Is WeChat Going To Solve Logistic Challenges With Its New API?
WeChat introduced a logistics interface for its popular mini-program feature that claims to increase the efficiency for online retailers by saving time and money. The new interface has been happily adopted by companies like American skincare brand Kiehl’s (L’Oréal) and is now being made available to the public
However, established e-commerce titans like Alibaba are already well versed with the industry and already possesses the framework that the customers are familiar with, thus categorizing the move as an outdated one. WeChat stated that its goal isn’t necessarily to surpass Taobao but instead, it is focused on pushing forward innovation to its 1 million-strong ecosystem of mini apps and 1 billion users.
What Does The New WeChat Interface Promise?
The new WeChat Logistics interface enables developers to create logistic orders with major Chinese logistical providers. Merchants can:
- Create a new shipping order with their logistic provider via the WeChat API
- Track the order in real-time via the WeChat API or a PC tool provided by WeChat
- The end users get easy access to the shipping information via WeChat
Users receive notifications from a “Service notification” (服务通知) folder informing them of their delivery’s status.
What Are The Benefits Of The WeChat Logistics API?
WeChat claims that this new API leads to several benefits:
- Easily integrate a merchant’s system with logistics providers
- Enable convenient integration to multiple logistics providers
- Provides a centralized way for users to get notifications and shipment information
With the new add-on, WeChat mini-program developers can directly connect to logistics companies such as SF, ZTO Express, and YTO Express. In addition, customers who purchase items will be able to receive notifications and track their packages directly through a centralized “WeChat logistics assistant.” Previously, users had to enter the mini-program for each online store to check on their shipments.
The process of linking a mini-program to the logistics option requires developers one week on average, according to WeChat (in Chinese). In its official release, it cites two major sellers, including American skincare brand Kiehl’s, who have saved on costs and improved customer experience using the new feature.
Limitations Of The New API
One of the major drawbacks of the API is that it only works within WeChat. The creation of the new order will require the open ID of the WeChat user, so any other transaction taking place outside WeChat can’t leverage the new API.
This isn’t beneficial to those vendors that don’t use WeChat mini-programs and they would prefer using one single shipping API across their channels.
Who Does The API Benefit?
The WeChat logistics API is beneficial to small businesses that want to focus on WeChat mini-programs for online sales and are looking for a solution for shipping integration.
“The whole mini-program initiative is about helping startups, helping more businesses,” co-founder of China Channel, Matthew Brennan, said.
The WeChat mini program revolution is bound to benefit businesses that are keen on expanding within the WeChat mini program ecosystem. However, the API is a bit too late to the party amidst the existence of already well-established cross-platform solutions which have gained a significant market share.
Are you impressed with the new API? What are your views?