WeChat cross-border e-commerce

How To Open a WeChat Cross-Border E-Commerce Shop [Guide]

Last Updated on July 8, 2024

Beyond social networking and improving brand visibility among Chinese consumers, did you know that the WeChat ecosystem can also serve as a cross-border e-commerce channel?

It facilitates B2C transactions, allowing international brands to sell cross-border products and services through its e-commerce platform. With the super app serving a massive consumer base of 1.427 billion WeChat users, it’s a business opportunity that’s hard to pass up.

In this post, we’ll explain how WeChat cross-border e-commerce works and the advantages its features bring to the table.


How Does WeChat Cross-Border E-Commerce Work?

WeChat’s cross-border e-commerce features are an alternative method to enter the Chinese market, especially for foreign brands with no scale to open a physical store in the country. These channels also present themselves as lucrative testing grounds before launching at full capacity.

The ability to sell directly to Chinese customers on WeChat as a foreign brand comes with a different process than that of a traditional e-commerce business. Like other cross-border platforms, it follows specific import trading rules, including customs product filing, clearance, and lowered import taxes.



Foreign businesses with official brand accounts on the platform can conduct cross-border transactions by launching WeChat mini-programs or virtual storefronts. These features allow local users to shop online and discover your offerings.

After that, the WeChat payment from these users will go through the app’s internal e-wallet system. This in-app payment feature automatically settles the transaction from CNY to the foreign currency set in your overseas bank account.

Once orders are confirmed, Western brands can ship products directly from their country, store them in Hong Kong, or use warehouses in China’s Free Trade Zones. Direct shipping is simpler but slower, whereas local warehouses offer faster delivery and easier returns management.


Step-by-Step Guide To Opening E-Commerce WeChat Stores

1.   Open a WeChat Official Account

Businesses must apply for WeChat official accounts to maximize the platform’s social and e-commerce capabilities. Typically, new registrants can choose between subscription and service accounts.

However, the latter is more recommended for overseas brands, especially if you intend to launch elaborate marketing and sales strategies on the WeChat app.


WeChat website


When opening WeChat official accounts, foreign businesses can use either a business partner’s Chinese business license or a third-party agency. This option will require you to apply for a cross-border payment account because a normal WeChat payment account is typically linked to the business license you provided during the setup process.

Alternatively, companies can directly apply through Tencent using their international business license, though this process can be more complex and time-consuming. The approval can take up to 60 days or two months and requires an additional fee.


2.   Apply for a WeChat cross-border payment account

Before you create WeChat shops, it’s important to ensure that your WeChat official account is integrated into the platform’s e-wallet system.

Setting this up will enable local users to pay in RMB while the brand receives payments in their preferred currency. The conversions and transfers happen within the app, making this setup more efficient than in other platforms.

The creation of a WeChat cross-border payment account is free. However, you should expect a transaction processing fee of 3% and a minimal settlement amount.


WeChat qr code


Users may choose to settle payments to a WeChat shop or mini-program through WeChat Pay or Alipay. Either way, the payment process times may vary depending on the user’s chosen setup.

WeChat payments also often come in the form of a QR code, as 95.7% of the Chinese population prefers cashless transactions over traditional ones. The prevalence of mobile payments in China is a testament to the importance of e-wallet integration for your WeChat store.

Due to specific Chinese regulations and laws, some businesses, like international financial firms and gambling companies, cannot apply for a WeChat cross-border payment account.


3.   Create your own WeChat Store or Mini-Program

Once your official WeChat account and e-wallet integration are set up, you’re now ready to create a cross-border e-commerce channel within the app. The features that allow you to facilitate sales are the WeChat Store and the WeChat Mini-Program.

These channels allow WeChat users to browse products, place orders, and make payments directly without leaving the platform.

While you can create these sales channels from scratch, you also have the option to rely on a domestic WeChat store provider. You can seek customizable templates from services like Weimob, Youzan, Weidan, etc.

Unlike developing WeChat stores with an expert programmer, remember that some of these third-party services only include industry-specific templates, and you could be limited in terms of customizability.


Weimob’s Backend Customization

Weimob WeChat Store Back-End


These applications can integrate personalized and flexible shopping cart systems into your WeChat store. They can also expand the inventory capacity of e-stores, allowing brands to accommodate the sales of tens of thousands of virtual products in a single platform.

If you’re not keen on using third-party platforms to create a WeChat store, custom API integration is always a viable option to consider.

WeChat cross-border e-commerce channels are also good sources of consumer trends and behavior. Because of this, we highly recommend managing your WeChat store through CRM systems to gain access to more in-depth data reports.


WeChat social CRM understand your customer


These insights allow you to understand WeChat Store behavior better and examine the specific needs of your target audience more closely.

Managing your WeChat e-commerce channel through a CRM system can also help centralize the customer lifecycle. You’ll gain access to sales and marketing automation tools that will make your WeChat store operations more seamless and convenient.


4.   Customize and Localize Your WeChat Shop

Beyond your WeChat official account, e-commerce stores are the gateway to converting an audience into a paying customer. With that being said, it’s a no-brainer that your WeChat shop should cater to the tastes and preferences of Chinese consumers.

Start this process by ensuring that all content in your WeChat store, including product descriptions, customer service, and marketing campaigns, are in Simplified Chinese characters.


Duckhorn WeChat store

Duckhorn’s WeChat Store Creation


Remember, the aim is to make your WeChat shop not only visually appealing but also culturally relevant and user-friendly for the Chinese market. For example, you can update your product descriptions, images, and overall WeChat store branding to align with upcoming holidays and festivals in China.

This strategy not only engages your existing followers but also gives your brand the leverage to utilize the hype generated by the 520 festival in China.


How To Improve Your WeChat Cross-Border E-Commerce Strategy

1.    Utilize Video and Influencer Marketing

With the launch of Channels in 2020, WeChat KOLs and KOCs found a more effective and engaging way to connect with their fanbase. By launching short videos and live-streaming content, their influence in swaying purchasing decisions can bring ample benefits to your WeChat store.

Marketers can integrate e-commerce links on these influencer-hosted videos to lead viewers to WeChat stores or specific product pages they assign.


WeChat channels KOLs collaboration


Depending on your marketing goal, the video collaboration can span across different formats, from unboxing and product demonstrations to in-depth reviews.

Regardless of your chosen strategy, don’t forget that consumers see these influencers as credible sources of information and reliable recommendations.

So, while it’s tempting to work with KOLs with very high follower count, you should choose ones who align with your brand values and have a strong following among your target demographic.


2.    Launch Targeted Ads on WeChat

As the most popular domestic social commerce platform in China, chances are your WeChat shop is lost among the sea of businesses trying to stand out in the Chinese market.If you want your in-app store to reach beyond your existing followers, launching WeChat ads can help you reach the right audience. The super app’s ad platform targets potential consumers based on demographics, behaviors, and interests.

Mini-program ads are typically more interactive. In addition to banner advertisements, they appear in formats like mini-games or pop-up cards.


Advertising in China WeChat ads


Links to cross-border e-stores can also be placed on WeChat Moment ads. These formats are particularly effective due to their native designs and high engagement rates​.

You can align these paid advertisements with time-limited promotions and discounts happening on your WeChat shop to create urgency and encourage immediate purchases. Highlighting these deals in your ads can drive higher traffic and potential sales.


3.    Maximize Your WeChat Public Account

Another way to lead your WeChat followers to your virtual storefront or mini-program is to post engaging content that captures their attention. You can take advantage of the power of social sharing by providing your followers with invaluable information that aligns with their interests.

Focus on producing high-quality content that resonates with your audience. With a WeChat public account, you have the tools to create articles, videos, infographics, or interactive posts that provide value and align with your followers’ interests.

Regular posting about your WeChat stores helps keep your brand and offerings at the top of your followers’ minds.


WeChat official service account

SDG’s work with VEJA: WeChat Content Marketing


4.    Take Advantage of WeChat Groups

WeChat marketing is all about making a personalized connection to your target audience, and what better way to do that than by offering loyal consumers exclusive deals and discounts?

In this social messaging app, you can create groups dedicated to specific audience segments. And through this private channel, you can send WeChat messages to inform them about flash sales or limited-time offers.

The exclusivity of these deals can fuel potential sales and trigger heightened engagement, which will eventually solidify the group’s sense of community.


WeChat messaging


For every product or promotional event on WeChat stores, marketers can organize live-streaming sessions, Q&A sessions, or virtual launches on these WeChat groups to  foster a closer connection between your brand and its customers.

They can also host contests, giveaways, and other promotional activities within these groups to drive engagement and excitement for new products coming into their WeChat stores.


Advantages of WeChat Cross-Border E-Commerce for Brands

●     The convenience of WeChat Pay

One of the most significant benefits of using WeChat for cross-border e-commerce is the convenience of WeChat Pay. This payment system allows foreign brands to transact in RMB without needing a local bank account.

Payments are settled directly into the merchant’s overseas account in their local currency, with automatic currency conversion handled by WeChat Pay. This simplifies the financial process and eliminates the need for complex banking arrangements in China​.


WeChat Pay Website Homepage


●     Access to customer behavioral data

WeChat provides brands extensive access to customer behavioral data, including purchasing habits, preferences, and engagement rates. By analyzing this information, brands can tailor their marketing strategies, personalize customer interactions, and improve overall customer satisfaction.

Integrating e-commerce with social networking allows for seamless tracking and analysis of customer journeys, giving marketers the power to retarget and engage with their audience more effectively.



●     Reduced Import Tax

As mentioned earlier, China has reduced import tax for cross-border e-commerce transactions compared to traditional import methods.

Products shipped through these channels often benefit from lower import duties and more straightforward customs procedures. It makes products more competitively priced and accessible to local consumers while also easing the logistical burden on foreign brands


●     Faster Market Adaptation

WeChat enables brands to quickly adapt to the Chinese market by providing real-time feedback and data. This agility is crucial in a fast-paced market like China, where consumer preferences can shift rapidly.

On top of that, the platform integrates various marketing tools, content marketing, influencer partnerships, and targeted advertising. This complete digital ecosystem helps create a cohesive marketing strategy that drives traffic to the WeChat Store and increases sales​.



Quick Q&A

Do you need a Chinese business license to open a WeChat store?

Opening WeChat shops requires the creation of official brand accounts, and that process in itself presents the need for a Chinese business license. However, you have the option to submit a license from a third-party agent or a business partner. You can also apply directly through Tencent as a foreign brand, but the approval can take up to two months.

How do you sell products on WeChat?

To sell products on WeChat, you first need to create an official brand account, which allows you to engage with customers directly. Next, set up an in-app virtual storefront or an e-commerce mini-program where users can browse and purchase your products. Finally, integrate WeChat Pay into your store to facilitate monetary transactions and currency conversions.


Your Trusted WeChat E-Commerce Partner in the Chinese Market!

Having a WeChat account opens many opportunities for foreign brands, including selling directly to Chinese consumers without needing a physical business presence. With the right strategy, a cross-border e-commerce store on China’s biggest social media platform can serve as your brand’s biggest sales generator.


You may also want to read:

WeChat Marketing guide 2024


At Sekkei Digital Group, we understand the importance of WeChat shops in your market entry in China. With our team’s extensive industry knowledge and expertise, we can guide you in maximizing the platform’s potential audience reach and e-commerce capacity.


Sekkei Digital Group Services


Whether you intend to create a WeChat mini-program or store, we have all the digital solutions you need. Contact us today to learn more and discuss how to improve your cross-border e-commerce strategy.


contact us SDG



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