by Queenie Yao
Private traffic is indispensable for fashion retailers. As global fashion brands seize opportunities to sell to China, they are focusing on increasingly digital-savvy Chinese customers who turn to the popular mega-app WeChat to follow brands’ activities. Among numerous China e-commerce options, WeChat has emerged as retailers’ must-have growth engine for their private traffic strategies in China.
Customer acquisition, retention, and repurchase are always fundamental to the fashion retail business. The mature WeChat ecosystem, however, is an ideal gateway for retailers to achieve their operational objectives.
What is private traffic?
WeChat private traffic empowers retailers to engage customers and build trusted, personalized, value-driven relationships through private domain practices. Private domain practices enable businesses to create and maintain their own customer database, increasing engagement and lowering marketing acquisition costs.
Fashion brands have relatively accurate and highly loyal customer groups. Thanks to these fan characteristics, the private domain has become an excellent destination for fashion brands to strengthen their brand influence and accelerate their business growth.
The fashion industry is already benefiting from private domain operations in China. Multi-brand fashion house I.T gained 100% YoY growth in sales driven by private traffic domain. In addition, Danish luxury fashion platform Miinto gained 78% of its total gross merchandise value (GMV) from private traffic in a month.
Let’s examine how fashion pioneers I.T and Miinto leverage WeChat social commerce strategies to improve performance results in this large, lucrative fashion market.
Private traffic domain emerges as a new social sales channel in WeChat
Amid various market uncertainties in the past three years, when offline stores closed in China, young people shifted to the online private domain to purchase designer fashion. Private traffic is particularly powerful on WeChat, which has attracted 1.2 billion monthly active users who are interconnected and form a closer personal network.
Hong Kong fashion group I.T is one of the first fashion brands to start a private traffic business. I.T has made the WeChat mini-program shop ITeShop its priority and official channel for new products. ITeShop owns a host of fashion and designer labels sought after by Chinese customers in its brand lab, namely: Acne Studios, Alexander McQueen, Off-White, Thom Browne, JUUN.J, Maison Margiela, WE11Done, and more.
As a distinctive multi-brand fashion group, I.T consistently delivers the latest in luxury and style, which helps ITeShop attract a large number of new and potential customers.
With WeChat’s social sharing feature, I.T disruptively initiated the “new arrivals lottery draw” gameplay. Customers who take part in the lottery can view the lottery results and choose to place orders through the ITeShop mini-program or pick them up in-store.
Additionally, ITeShop embeds a "friend sharing" link into the lottery so participants can increase their chances of winning by sharing the event with their friends and inviting them to help.
I.T lottery draw
Take a lottery event from last May as an example. The week after the event, compared to the previous best-ever results, GMV increased by 158%, the overall unique views of the ITeShop soared by 128% and the conversion rate rose 47%.
I.T mini-program has launched 25 lottery events in 2021, with nearly one million clicks, 550,000 new fans, and a member acquisition rate of 56.5%.
Reward loyal customers with exclusive member benefits
After reaching specific customers and establishing a private domain in WeChat, retaining customers and improving loyalty are also at the core of fashion retailers’ private traffic strategy.
I.T developed a membership program for SCRM[DD2] (Social Customer Relationship Management) that allows customers to accumulate and burn points. The system integrates online and offline sales data, so customers will always receive points whether they shop online or offline.
I.T divides membership into four tiers, from entry-level to the highest tier. Each has a name for its system: Insider, Influencer, Fashionista, and Guru. Each tier has its own points limit and spending requirements, and comes with redemption privileges, birthday rewards and gifts, exclusive deals on selected brands, exclusive information, and campaign priority.
One of the best ways to enhance member loyalty is to host an exclusive campaign for their members. The bi-annual “The Ultimate Sale” is the most important activity of the “ITeShop Mall” to reward their loyal customers.
I.T sets advance purchases as a benefit to efficiently reactivate existing customers through official account messages and WeCom group promotions. WeCom is a communication platform for enterprises. According to data from Tencent Smart Retail, roughly 50% of the reactivated customers contributed multiple orders, with the average customer unit price exceeding 1,300 RMB ($191 US), far higher than the average of other campaigns.
To attract new customers to join, I.T launches a reward feature to compensate existing customers with coupons for inviting new customers to the I.T member club. New customers who complete the membership registration also receive a coupon.
In 2021, I.T's two "The Ultimate Sale" events achieved outstanding results. In March, GMV exceeded 50 million RMB ($7.3 million US) and the campaign earned nearly 900,000 unique views in 7 days. The event in September set a new milestone, with a 7-day GMV of nearly 60 million RMB ($8.8 million) and nearly 1 million unique views.
During the just past Singles Day festive, the I.T shop assistant announced exclusive and limited-time offers to the WeCom group members in advance. Further, a series of new arrivals were introduced to loyal I.T customers.
I.T Main page
Community effectively keeps customers coming back
The value of private domains is not only about acquiring traffic and conversion but also more about connecting like a real "person" and the attraction between brands and customers.
Take Miinto, the Danish online luxury fashion platform, which has already embarked on comprehensive digitization in China. In November 2021, the Miinto WeChat mini- program boutique store officially launched. Miinto is leveraging the WeChat community to raise customer attention and interaction in WeCom groups.
Miinto proactively improves conversion with exclusive offers in WeCom groups. Within the group chat, members receive extra benefits like exclusive rewards, product purchase tips, and limited-time gifts with purchases.
Miinto creates a brand persona “Miss Fancy”, who effectively leverages WeChat groups, WeCom Moments, and 1-on-1 chat to stay updated on the latest activities for potential and high-value customers.
For the mid-autumn festival campaign in early September, Miinto group assistant Miss Fancy presented the group-exclusive lucky draw, which is only available for customers who have made a purchase through the Miinto WeChat boutique. This attracted high-value customers and increased their loyalty to Miinto.
Miinto put Miss Fancy’s WeChat account QR code on the homepage of the Miinto WeChat mini-program. Customers who scan this QR code can add Miss Fancy as a WeChat contact, then staff will send greetings and group invitations to new followers.
Miinto WeChat community
As TMI x BCG Private Domain Marketing Insight revealed, 96% of the survey participants responded that they prefer to access information through the private domain. In the WeChat community, 83% of both male and female consumers would purchase recommended products or have in-depth experiences. In September, purchases made by customers in WeChat groups contributed 78% to Miinto’s total GMV. For Singles Day 2022, Miinto’s China e-commerce business in October climbed 2.5X higher than its September results.
In this context, Miinto customers are willing to join the WeChat group to acquire the latest information about promotion campaigns or participate in group discussions to learn more about new releases.
Miinto's staff position themselves as personal fashion consultants, product seeding and recommendation ambassadors, and personal advisors to offer services, as needed.
Looking forward, expect fashion private traffic to soar
Thanks to the gradual maturity and stability of the WeChat ecosystem, the whole customer journey – acquisition, activation, and retention – can all be completed within the WeChat ecosystem. It caters to fashion retailers’ demands across multiple scenarios to fuel consumption.
Through the optimized operation of all the WeChat ecosystem's touchpoints and the innovative mini-program gameplay, I.T and Miinto have brought new inspiration and insights to other leading fashion houses, as they learn from each other, and emphasize exceptional service and experiences.
Backed by cutting-edge technology, Azoya’s solution continues to help brands and retailers quickly establish a presence within the WeChat ecosystem and marketplaces, and solve practical challenges of operating WeChat ads, content, livestream campaigns, and various other WeChat ecosystem activities.
1. Since user attention is increasingly divided among major apps, private traffic can help fashion retailers build more vertical, efficient, and direct customer acquisition channels.
2. The advantage of developing private traffic is that the brand can leverage it repeatedly, and can reach users within their private domain at a limited cost.
3. Fashion brands are becoming increasingly reliant on WeChat to reach shoppers, while consumers are more willing to purchase and share in the private domain.