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One to Watch: IWC Schauffhausen Launches WeChat Store

Swiss luxury watchmaker IWC has launched its online China shop this week. The brand does not sell its watches through Chinese e-commerce giants such as or TMall, but through the versatile messaging app WeChat – which allows official accounts to build their in-app shops.

Manya Koetse



Swiss luxury watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen has launched its online China shop this week. The brand now exclusively sells its watches through messaging app WeChat –  a significant marketing strategy that brings social media and e-commerce closer together.

WeChat, a.k.a. Weixin (微信), is best known as China’s most popular messaging app. But since the Tencent platform has offered developers the possibility of building e-commerce stores in 2014, it is now competing with online shopping platforms such as

As reported by Frank Tong for, international luxury watchmaker IWC (IWC万国表) launched its online retail shop on WeChat this week as its only authorized online channel in China. The ‘Weixin specialty shop’ (微信专卖店) opened on March 30, and can be easily found by WeChat users following the official IWC WeChat account, or by customers who can scan the QR code of the shop on IWC posters.

For now, WeChat shoppers can buy 30 different watch models from IWC.


IWC’s choice is noteworthy, as most international brands choose for platforms like Tmall to sell their products. But according to IWC, selling through WeChat helps to easily communicate with its customers and better serve those who live far from the larger cities in China.

The move of IWC to do its China online sales through WeChat has also attracted the attention of several Chinese media. As Tong writes, IWC is not the first international retailer to choose to sell via WeChat. Online fashion company Yoox Group set up a similar shop on WeChat in 2014.

WeChat is a multifunctional app, and with a staggering amount of users in China (now up to 650 million active users and 93% penetration in China’s major cities), it is an attractive option for retailers. The app allows them to gather followers when they set up an official account, from which they can post their latest news and promotions. By making sure their shop is just one click away, they make it easier for customers to make a purchase – by staying within the app, customers do not need to switch to a different platform or go to another link in order to visit the online shop.

According to Walkthechat, there are more and more official accounts that link through to a WeChat store, with many of them proving successful. In four case studies, they mention children’s toys&books company Kidsbookmama (童书妈妈市集), publishing platform Logical Thinking (逻辑思维), skin care brand WIS (维希) and sock producer Aun Socks (爱优恩) as good examples of WeChat e-commerce successes.

The possibilities of opening online stores within WeChat might drastically change China’s e-commerce market in the future – altering where and how people make their online purchases; bringing social media and e-commerce closer together. As IWC already understands, WeChat’s e-commerce is one to watch.

– By Manya Koetse

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©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at, or follow on Twitter.

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    April 4, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Binfer messaging app is private. Also, it is free. The site is

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China Digital

TikTok’s In-Video Search Function (And How to Activate It)

TikTok shows a glimpse of what in-video search is going to look like in the future.

Manya Koetse



What is TikTok’s new in-video search function and how to activate it?

Twitter’s most awesome WeChat guru Matthew Brennan recently posted about an “in-video search function” launched in the Chinese social video app TikTok (抖音). (Click here to read about the difference between the Chinese and overseas version of TikTok).

As shown in a video posted by Brennan, the function allows TikTok users to select the face or clothes of a person appearing in a short video to search for other videos or images containing the same person or clothes.

The ‘vision search’ is a powerful new function within the super popular app.

The idea is that it becomes easier than ever for Tiktok users to find (and buy!) a piece of clothing, that perfect handbag, or even a snack featured in a video.

It also helps users to quickly find other videos in which an online celebrity appears. The function ultimately is an additional feature that keeps users scrolling and shopping within the app – increasing app traffic – as long as possible.

On September 16, Chinese media reported about the function as a “powerful” new tool that greatly strengthens the functionality of the popular short video app.

The function might not immediately seem completely new to Chinese app users; like Google Image Search, Baidu and Taobao also have similar functions (百度识图, 淘宝识图).

On e-commerce platform Taobao, for example, you can take a photo of an item you want (e.g. a certain snack as in example below) and Taobao will try to find the exact same product and list the online stores where you can buy it.

But TikTok’s in-video search function is on a whole new level; it does not require users to scan or upload a photo at all. It gives an indication of what visual search will be like in the future.

Whatever video comes by in your TikTok stream, you only need to click the “search” function (识图), select the part of the video you want to search for (you can drag the square from area to area), and TikTok will find the product or face you’re looking for – as long as there are comparable products/faces (it does so very fast).

Very much like Taobao, TikTok will recommend various (in-app) online stores where the product can be purchased.

Want to try out the function? For now, it only works in the Chinese version of the app and is still in the ‘testing phase’ and does not work with all videos.

Make sure you have an updated version of TikTok.

1. Go to “me” (我) page within TikTok
2. Tick the three lines in the top right corner
3. Go to the last option in the sidebar menu titled “lab” (实验室)
4. Activate the function (image below).

So now if you spot a dress you like and would like to buy, press the ‘search’ button on the right of a video, select the dress, and TikTok becomes like your personal shopping assistant looking for similar dresses for you.

Tiktok makes shopping supereasy.

This really makes online shopping more addictive than ever, and also makes it more difficult for people in online videos to hide where they bought their clothing, or what other videos they are in.

Read more about Tiktok here.
Read more about Chinese apps here.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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China Digital

Didi Riders Can Now Have “Verified Party Members” Drive Them Around

Party-building 3.0? Didi has got it covered.

Manya Koetse



First published

This is Party-building in the new era: Didi now allows users of its Premier Car Service to let a verified Party member drive them to their destination.

On September 20, as the People’s Republic of China is nearing its 70th-anniversary celebrations, the country’s most popular taxi-hailing app Didi published an article on Weibo and WeChat explaining its verified Party Member Driver Program.

Recently, riders in Beijing may have noticed something different at Didi’s Premier Car service, which is called “Licheng” 礼橙专车 since June of last year.

Some of Licheng’s drivers now have a red background to their profile photos accompanied by a Communist Party emblem. Upon clicking the profile of these drivers, customers will see that this driver is a Party Member Driver (“党员司机”) – meaning that the Didi driver’s status as a Party member has been verified through Didi’s “Red Flag Steering Wheel” program (红旗方向盘项目) that was set up in November 2018.

Didi’s “Red Flag Steering Wheel” program (红旗方向盘项目) that was set up in November 2018. Image via Guancha.

Didi writes that these drivers can also be identified as Party members through the red sticker on the dashboard at the passenger side, which literally says “Party member driver.”

The article explains that the recent project is an effort to contribute to China’s Party-building in the digital era, and that Didi aims to establish a Party member community within its company.

This car is driven by a Party member (image via Didi/Weibo).

The company is apparently planning to make this community a lively one, as it promises to provide online and offline activities that will help these drivers stay up to date with the latest developments within the Party, and that will increase their “Party awareness.”

Starting this month, Didi will reportedly also offer “patriotic classes” to all of its drivers via its online classroom program.

China has more than 88 million Party members. Party membership does not come overnight; those who want to become a Communist Party member need to attend Party courses, pass written tests, be recommended by other members, and pass a screening (read more here).

As for now, riders cannot manually pick to have a Party member as their driver; a nearby driver will be automatically selected when they order a car – if it is a Party member, they will know straight away from the driver’s profile.

For now, Didi has set up “mobile Party branches” in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and a number of other cities.

On Weibo, some see the initiative as a marketing move from Didi’s side. “If you hear the driver is a Party member, you know it’s reliable. It’s a good thing.”

The past year was a tough year for Didi, after the murders of two young women by their Didi driver made national headlines, causing outrage and concerns about customer’s safety when hailing a car through the Didi company.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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