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Loyalty Without Walls

Rethinking Omnichannel Loyalty Programs

June 23, 2021 | Danielle Sumerlin

Imagine you frequently buy products from ABC convenience store right next to your office, always using WeChat Pay. You have also browsed its commerce mini program before, and you know the brand has a loyalty program, but you’ve just never bothered to sign up.

One day, your colleague sends you the store’s Official Account and asks you to follow it so that she can get a discount. You do so and, to your surprise, you receive a personalized welcome message letting you know that, based on your WeChat Pay transactions over the past year, as well as your previous engagement with the store’s WeChat Moments ad, if you sign up to be a loyalty member you can instantly earn 10,000 points!

After reading that, are you going to sign up for the loyalty program now? You betcha!

Or take this example:

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You love exercising and your favorite workout apparel brand is XYZ fitness. However, XYZ is a premium brand and you currently can only afford to buy a couple items each year, so you never bothered signing up for the loyalty program because you didn’t think you’d ever earn enough points to make it worth signing up.

Yet while you may not be able to afford buying new products all the time, you’re still a loyal fan of XYZ. You follow its Official Account, constantly browse through the e-commerce mini program, join its free fitness classes live streamed on WeChat, upload workout photos to its community UGC mini program, and attend XYZ’s offline pop-up fitness events.

One day you decide to buy a new pair of yoga pants. At the register, the sales associate asks you to scan a QR code with your WeChat account to see if you are eligible for any discounts. You don’t think you are, but you go ahead and do so anyway, not realizing that XYZ has been tracking your Union ID and rewarding you with loyalty points every time you interact with the brand on WeChat. You even earned points from offline fitness events because you register and sign in for them using WeChat.

The sales associates tells you that you’ve wracked up so many points that you can get 40% off your purchase today plus a gift with purchase if you sign up for the loyalty program.

Imagine how exciting that would be?! You’ve been earning rewards points without even knowing it!


The magic of WeChat

This is the beauty of treating WeChat as your brand’s core customer engagement hub in China.

WeChat’s vast feature set allows brands to bring many, if not most, of their key consumer touchpoints within the WeChat ecosystem, from marketing, to commerce, to loyalty and service.

This, in turn, means that brands can track consumer engagement across numerous data points, from WeChat Pay, to Official Accounts, to mini programs, and give users loyalty benefits for their actions without them ever having to sign up for a loyalty program.

You can do this through what is called a Union ID, which is a single unique identifier ID (29 letters and numbers) for each user across all WeChat touchpoints bound in your brand’s open platform account.

To better understand data binding, check out this article: WeChat Data Binding For Dummies

But why would a brand want to do that?

With the overwhelming number of brands vying for their attention, it is difficult to gain loyalty from Chinese consumers, particularly young consumers, therefore you do not want to wait for them to sign up for your loyalty program before you start rewarding them for engaging with your brand.

Many consumers may think that they don’t need the loyalty program, or may not take the initiative to sign up, so just go ahead and start showing them some of the benefits of being a loyalty member without them having to take that step.

This will encourage them to engage with your brand even more, which is more likely to lead to sales. And once they experience the benefit of being a member, it will be much easier to convince them to actually become a member.

Key takeaways & food for thought

  • By simply tracking a consumer’s WeChat ID, brands can treat consumers like they are loyalty members without them actually signing up for a loyalty program.

  • Brands can track a variety of metrics such as how frequently the consumer engages with the WeChat Official Account and brand mini programs, any past online or offline purchases with WeChat Pay, interactions with Tencent ads, registration and attendance at brand events, etc.

  • Using this data, brands can create automated, yet personalized offers and rewards.

  • Brands can also provide an extra incentive for users to join their loyalty programs by rewarding them for past behaviors.


WeChat E-commerce Mini Program Best Practices!

Today, customer experience is the core differentiating factor that drives loyalty and overall revenue growth for brands. Integrating teams, technologies, and tools required to effectively and consistently deliver a seamless, customer-centric experience is not easy.