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Tencent launches feature for selling products directly on WeChat

Will WeChat become an e-commerce app?

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Chinese social and gaming giant Tencent (HKG: 0700) has gone live with a mini program called WeChat Minishop, allowing all businesses and individuals to open their own online stores, according to a post Tuesday on the company’s WeChat public account.

WeChat Minishop features easy-to-use embedded tools designed for merchandise display, translation, order and logistics management, marketing, payments, customer service, and livestreaming.

The mini program inside WeChat, China’s “do everything app” with 1.2 billion users, is now available to all businesses for testing, and will be open to ordinary individuals later, said Tencent in the post, promising to enable them to do e-commerce without a technical team.

During the trial, each company is allowed to open 50 mini-shops, while a self-employed individual, with a business operations license, is allowed to have five. One WeChat account can only have one mini-shop. Products for sale should fall into the categories of pet care, home appliance, smartphones, clothes, among others.

WeChat Minishop marks another attempt by the tech juggernaut to enter the e-commerce sector. Tencent, which is an investor in JD.com (NASDAQ: JD), Pinduoduo (NASDAQ: PDD), and brick-and-mortar supermarket chain operator Yonghui (SHH: 601933), unveiled its social e-commerce mini program called Xiao’e Pinpin, featuring a group-buying function, in late April, reported KrASIA.

“The arrival of WeChat Minishop could bring a negative effect to Pinduoduo, Taobao, Douyin, and Kuaishou since it allows users to livestream product sales,” said Cecilia Xu, an analyst with 36Kr Research, a market research unit of 36Kr.

“However, since Tencent itself is quite a late comer in the e-commerce sector, the effect would be very limited in the short term, and it takes time to see what supportive measures the company will bring in the future to WeChat Minishop to judge the long-term effect,” she added.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company