In today’s WeChat Essential Tip, brought to you by China Channel, we will provide a detailed case study illustrating how WeChat is revolutionizing the restaurant industry in China. We will show how brands and businesses are rapidly adapting and leveraging the new reality of a mobile commerce based economy. We also will demonstrate how businesses are putting a high priority on adding followers to their WeChat official accounts.
Our case study is a national chain restaurant called ‘Mr. and Mrs. Aysh’ 艾薯 (Head Quartered in ShenZhen). China Channel had our team meeting near this restaurant in the DaPing area of Chongqing yesterday. Upon entering and attempting to order food, we were pushed by one of their staff to join the company’s WeChat membership official account. The rational, the waiter explained, was that “Basically all of our customers are now using WeChat to pay.” The staff person also mentioned “We want our customers to follow our WeChat official account. It’s convenient for you and also good for our business.” Obviously WeChat has become very important to this restaurant. Let’s analyze how they are using it.
Member’s Card Discounts
The restaurant offers discounts to its customers through a virtual ‘WeChat Restaurant Member’s Card.’ The membership card, which is the restaurant’s main promotion, works in the same way as physical ones. The discount on offer however was higher than usually expected:
For example, if you add 100 yuan to your WeChat membership card, the restaurant will match it with another 100; effectively making everything you buy half price. The 2 for 1 discount is very attractive for price conscious customers. To join the membership card system you will need to enter their official account and input your name and phone number. Once you have done so you will reach this page:
Selecting online top up will request you to pay via WeChat Wallet. Interestingly, no other options are given.
Upon ordering, the service staff will take your order through the electronic till and then ask for your phone number which they will input into their cell phone.
The store will send you a message with a 4 digit code. You must tell the service staff the code in order to confirm the purchase.
The store is managing this system through an android WeChat POS App on the phone.
The system interface for staff looks like this:
Next, this restaurant is making use of a service called ‘WeChat Wi-Fi’. This requires customers to access the restaurant’s free Wi-Fi thru their WeChat Official Account.
This service is a huge bonus for bricks and mortar businesses in high traffic areas. It provides your customers with a solid reason to add your business’ WeChat official account. It can also automatically push a message and promotion to your customers when they come within range of your Wi-Fi. (Expect to hear more on WeChat Wi-Fi in future China Channel articles!)
‘Mr. and Mrs. Aysh’ WeChat Official account (picture above)
Upon adding the restaurant’s WeChat OA, we also now have access to a variety of interesting information and services. Let’s look at a few. Firstly we can view the restaurant’s (rather bizarre) brand story, which is told through a series of cartoon illustrations detailing the story of ‘Mr. and Mrs. Aysh’.
We have access to a 360° view of one of their restaurants (similar to Google street view)
We can also check out the individual location’s store information. The store we visited has mixed up their opening hours with their phone number (Whoops!).
Summary and Analysis
Restaurants and retail stores across China are now putting heavy priority in adding WeChat followers to their Official Accounts (OA). Sometimes the restaurant will even forgo short term revenue in order to gain followers, such as in this case. Another interesting point is that this particular restaurant is now basically a cashless business with all payments running through their WeChat membership card. They have been able to do this due to the universal adoption of WeChat wallet by the Chinese public.
This strategy makes a lot of sense. If they can first lock all their current customers into their membership card scheme with a heavy discount for a limited period, later those customers are likely to return to spend the remaining cash on their balance. A customer is very unlikely to unfollow their account if they have money remaining on the balance as they will risk loosing that money. This means the restaurant can continue to push messages 4 times a month indefinitely to their membership card holders. Even better, through WeChat’s Wi-Fi function they are able to push messages and discounts to customers once they are within range and connect with the store’s Wi-Fi.
The staff are currently using a messy combination of mobile phone and electronic cash register to take orders. The new system has clearly been rushed through in haste. Regardless, mobile transactions and cash free ordering systems are already appearing globally, and should be a major trend going forward.
China Channel has no association with ‘Mr. and Mrs. Aysh’. While we were excited by their WeChat focused business model, we were were disappointed with their food, not even being able to finish our meal 🙁
Join us tomorrow for our next article from the China Channel ‘WeChat Essential Tips’ series. Follow us on WeChat by scanning the QR code to follow our official account. If you have requests for articles or want to contact us, please message us through our WeChat official account or by email: email@example.com