Simply speaking, a WeChat Mini App is an App within an App. Mini Apps lets users open an app page within WeChat, instead of downloading an app. The Chinese have been accustomed to using WeChat to do everything – from ordering food to booking a doctor to paying their bills – since its launch in 2017. Within a year after launching Mini Apps, they had reached over 500,000 users and 170 million active users per day. WeChat’s mini apps now manage an amazing 1.1 billion transactions per day for more than 440 millions users.
With a growing mini app eco system, there is so much to do on WeChat, that many users spend over four hours per day on WeChat. They make business transactions, order all the products they need and manage services they use. WeChat users use about 10 apps on a daily basis.
Mini Apps solves two major problems
Although this webapp idea may seem simple, it solves two major problems. Mini Apps require less space on your smartphone. Apps get larger when developers add more features or media. If a smartphone has a lot of memory, this isn’t a problem. If you’ve ever used a 16GB iPhone you will know what I mean. Mini App allows users to simply scan a QR code or link to the app page. Mini App doesn’t require installation, so users are more inclined to try other apps.
Secondly, Mini App means less registration hassles on different apps. It can be very frustrating to enter all your personal details in order to register for an app. Your credit card information is required for e-commerce apps. You will need to consider whether the app is secure, if it is protected, if an identity thief could use your credit card information, and how the app developer might use my personal data. Mini App uses WeChat wallet to make payments. Users don’t need to save their credit information on another app.
What are the benefits of Mini App for businesses?
1. Smaller businesses can reduce their costs. This is great news for small businesses and startups with a limited budget. It is expensive to develop an app. You also have to make it available for both Android and iOS markets. For exmaple, a Shanghai-based tech startup that builds 3D digital models of brick-and-mortar buildings said that an app could cost them between 40 000 and 50 000 USD. They can only develop the software using the WeChat-integrated programme for 15 000 USD. To get noticed in traditional app stores you will need to pay for distribution. Mini App makes it easy to share your app page and QR code via social media.
2. Apps can be used to brand and engage users. Mini app increases branding opportunities and customer engagement. Mini App allows brands to create store, service or game apps to engage their followers and increase traffic. Your brand could go viral with a gaming app. Chinese love instant gratification and addictive games. The game should encourage users sharing content and results via their WeChat accounts. Your business does not have to be in gaming. As long as the games are shareable and addictive, any brand can make small games related to its brands.
At the end of the day, users have fewer reasons to quit the WeChat app with the Mini App feature. They simply use what is available as mini app. However, this doesn’t mean Chinese users don’t require additional apps or don’t want full-size apps.
Lessons learned from WeChat Mini Apps
We at IKANGAI learned a lot from WeChat mini apps for our own zero install app platform. We also provide support for mini apps on platform. To that end, we’ve implemented a plugin system that – unlike WeChat mini apps – is based on open Web standards. This makes it easier for integrating third party services. Get in touch with us and learn how your business can benefir from zero install apps with mini apps. Follow us on our blog app to stay up to date.