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Tencent moves into social commerce, launches group-buying mini program on WeChat

The social giant is not only an investor of Pinduoduo, it is developing its own version of the popular social commerce platform.

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Tencent has rolled out Xiao’e Pinpin, a mini program for social commerce on WeChat that the Chinese tech juggernaut has made available to its 1.1 billion users.

Xiao’e Pinpin went online on April 29. It carries a multitude of lifestyle products, from lipsticks to iPhones, and marks Tencent’s latest move in China’s e-commerce sector after investments in tech companies like JD.com and Pinduoduo, as well as brick-and-mortar supermarket chain operator Yonghui.

In the past two years, Tencent has been developing social commerce functionality in WeChat’s mini programs, gradually adjusting its features and offering incentive to intertwine users’ purchases—and bulk up the total transaction volume.

Screenshot of Xiao’e Pinpin.

Xiao’e Pinpin shows merchandise in a “content feed,” showing details about one merchant’s products, followed by goods from a different vendor. Two slots are reserved at the top of the feed for special promotions. For now, Xiao’e Pinpin hosts more than 100 shops. Goods on sale are not categorized, and there is no search function for users. At the moment, it is unclear how the mini program’s algorithm determines the order in which products appear on feeds.

Like in Pinduoduo, Xiao’e Pinpin’s group-buying feature allows one user to form a “group” and invite their contacts for purchases. Those who are part of these “groups”—clusters with at least two people—can take advantage of lower prices.

By Monday morning, more than 300 WeChat users had bought the iPhone SE at RMB 2,899 (USD 410) apiece—at 400 yuan lower than the retail price—from an online store called Qilianhe Digital Flagship Store through groups formed on Xiao’e Pinpin.

Xiao’e Pinpin charges a deposit from merchants that runs between RMB 5,000 and 60,000 depending on the type of merchandise they carry, in order to guarantee timely shipping and to ensure that sellers follow the platform’s regulations, according to 36Kr.

For now, Xiao’e Pinpin does not have a stand-alone app or website.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company.