Apple has launched an official virtual storefront on WeChat, China's most popular messaging app in a bid to widen its sales network in the country. The move comes at a time when Apple is slowly pivoting production elsewhere in Asia as part of its strategy to reduce reliance on Chinese infrastructure.
For the first time, Apple products like iPhones, iPads, and Macs can be purchased directly through WeChat. It must be noted that Apple already has online retail stores on ecommerce platforms like Tmall and JD.com, the WeChat shop provides another extension to reach out to the app's 1.2 billion users.
Unlike Apple’s official store on Tmall, which has over 23.7 million followers and only sells products, users on WeChat can purchase the full line of Apple products including the latest iPhone 14 range through the Mini Program and also make use of services like trade-in. Orders via WeChat are eligible for free shipping, and some users can pay for three-hour delivery, said Tencent.
Apple has 46 brick-and-mortar stores in mainland China and most recently opened a second store in Shenzhen. Most of the brick-and-mortar stores are located in first-tier and second-tier cities, making online channels tapping into lower-tier cities an expansion strategy to boost sales in China.
According to a report by South China Morning Post, in the first quarter of this fiscal year, Apple’s reported revenue in Greater China dropped nearly 3% from the previous year.