Online retailer Yoox recently joined the handful of luxury retailers that have started to create an official presence on WeChat. This week, Yoox opened up a WeChat account specifically for U.S. and Italian users, and revamped its Chinese account. L2’s Intelligence Report: Social Platforms found that WeChat’s user base grew 500% between January 2012 and January 2013, from 50 million users to 300 million. At the time of the report release, 19.8% of brands were present on WeChat. In this interview, Yoox Corp (U.S. division of Yoox Group) President Clement Kwan said he believed even more Prestige brands will flock to WeChat in China, and some will even bring those experiences back to the U.S. and European markets.
WeChat gives brands the ability to inspire the pre-purchase experience with interactive editorial content. For example, Burberry routinely gives fans a peek of events such as #Art of the Trench Exhibit# and its Shanghai store opening through WeChat. But WeChat also offers payment support (installed in March) to offer a comprehensive shopping experience for consumers.
Furthermore, Kwan believes social commerce hasn’t taken off because while shopping can be a social experience, a lot of consumers appreciate the privacy of an online transaction. The key to a successful social commerce strategy is enabling users to converse and give feedback to each other, but giving them the option to depart from that and scroll solo. Full Q&A below:
Why WeChat? What does WeChat offer for fashion brands that other social media platforms don’t?
We’re particularly excited to be at the forefront of WeChat’s exciting global expansion. There’s something very exciting about how our paths have intersected: our roots are Italian: YOOX was born in Italy 14 years ago and now serves over 100 countries worldwide. WeChat was born in China, and is now the leading worldwide mobile social communications application. With the US as our first market both in terms of growth and sales, it made perfect sense for us to pioneer this partnership in the US, Italy and China – extending our leadership in mobile innovation.
In your opinion, why hasn’t social shopping not taken off yet? How does WeChat promise to be different?
At YOOX we think about what many call “social commerce” a bit differently. Social shopping is different from social purchasing. We all shop socially but we believe online shopping is also loved for being a private individual experience. We ask our friends and trusted advisors for their opinions and look at what others are wearing to inspire us but we don’t necessarily have to have our friends standing next to us at the register (or checkout page) when we make our purchase. On WeChat, your friends (and our experts and influencer community) are right there with you for as much of the journey as you want them to be; but also with the freedom to scroll solo.
Your official WeChat account offers style advice, live chat, outfit inspiration photos, access to special events with celebrity influencers. What do you think consumers are most interested in when connecting with a brand on social media?
At the end of the day, fans are looking for something that’s really hard to deliver: something that makes them feel unique and appreciated while at the same time, a part of a larger community. On WeChat, we are excited to learn how to deliver that “something special” across all touch points and keeping them surprised is our sole mission every day. Offering a direct line to customer care, one-to-one style advice, and special promotions just for our WeChat fans are all once again aimed at delivering a highly customized, unique online fashion experience. Features such as group chat with fashion influencers are aimed to welcome fans into our world. For us, it’s about threading that needle between one-to-one and many-to-many.
Do you anticipate that a lot of fashion brands will be on WeChat by year-end or the end of 2015? Why or why not?
We’ve seen prestige brands across many categories flocking to WeChat in China and expect that trend to continue. What will be interesting to watch is how many brands will leverage these learnings in Western markets.In our case, we were thrilled with the closeness-at-scale were able to create with our WeChat fans in China, and are excited to bring those experiences of discovery, high-touch service, and interactivity to our fans in the U.S, Italy (and beyond) in the coming months. We wouldn’t be surprised at all to see more and more fashion brands doing the same.
L2 is releasing the Intelligence Report: Omnichannel this week. The report examines the efforts of 100 retailers to drive consumers from clicks to bricks and back again. How can WeChat help create a better Omnichannel experience for customers?
At YOOX our goal is to make the online and offline shopping experiences more fluid for the ever-evolving luxury customer. Specifically on WeChat, through our internal development expertise and the platform’s capabilities, we have the ability to span the entire purchase journey in a unified location. There is the possibility to inspire the pre-purchase experience through interactive editorial content, offer innovative checkout flows at-purchase, and continue to emphasis high-touch service and robust loyalty programs post-purchase. The possibilities are truly endless.