Is Tencent joining social-commerce race? Maybe. At the end of April the company 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 carries a multitude of lifestyle products, from lipsticks to mobile phones and according to experts this is 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, but with not so great success. Thus, Tencent is gradually adjusting its features and offering incentive to intertwine users’ purchases—and bulk up the total transaction volume.
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. For now, Xiao’e Pinpin does not have a stand-alone app or website.
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. Xiao’e Pinpin hosts, for now, more than 100 shops and it is unclear how the mini program’s algorithm determines the order in which products appear on feeds. By the way, goods on sale are not categorized, and there is no search function for users.