How are sales associates using WeChat
The WeChat article titled “Luxury Brands’ Sales Associates Update on WeChat Moment in Chinese” goes to highlight the grey practices of sales associates using WeChat to sell.
- Wither Wing, the author of the article, writes extensively about how more than 10 sales associates from various luxury brands have ended up on her WeChat list.
- Wing says that she would get a WeChat friend request after showing doubts or hesitation about a product.
- She would also be encouraged to send any styles she liked from mainland stores, for the associate to check if they had any in supply.
Along with one-on-one interactions, sales associates would also post events and offers onto their moments (WeChat’s equivalent of a Facebook Timeline. Studies show that users spend 60% of their use time browsing through Moments) in a way to promote their brand’s content directly to the consumer.
Has any brands actually benefited?
The question we all want to know, has this actually helped brands or have sales associates across the world actually degrading the reputations of their brands?
Apparently (and not surprisingly), it actually HAS been successful. A sales associate at a luxury boutique in San Francisco says, “they often approach me to ask me WeChat contact to keep in touch.”
Miquel Cardona, co-founder of Oriental Retail Ventures says, “because through the personal use of WeChat, the communication is more authentic, it feels like what’s given to you is more personalised.” Cardona however, addresses that despite the advantages, the usage of WeChat in luxury sales can be a double-edged sword.
The risks of using WeChat in luxury sales
From exaggerated harassment reports to being unable to monitor the quality of conversations, brands that allow sales associates to use WeChat as a sales tool are opening themselves up to possible implications. Let’s look at two of the more immediate risks.
Conflict of interest between sales associates and brands:
- While brands aim to develop strategies from a long term perspective, a sales associate’s focus will be on fulfilling their sales quota in the next two to three months, which may cause them to neglect other objectives of the brand, such as marketing and customer relationship.
Inability to monitor conversations due to issues of privacy and ethics:
- Not knowing the quality of the content that sale associates share about the brand can put brands’ positioning at risk, impacting on how the brand is perceived in the market.
- Consumers that the associates are attempting to friend may spread negative word-of-mouth, which in turn damages reputation and can cause loss in traffic and opportunities.
What if there is another way to approach WeChat as a sales tool?
Despite these risks, it is still undeniable that there are brands that ARE having success with sales associates using WeChat privately. Let’s take a break from the negatives and look at how WeChat COULD be used effectively as a sales tool.
In Wing’s WeChat article, she encounters brands publicly setting up their own CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system on WeChat in store.
- A luxury shoe store at SKP Beijing mall that Wing was shopping at had set up a public iPad with master WeChat account where customers could add in their birthday along with their name.
- On the contact list page, the brand would organise sales associates’ names so customers could clearly see how many ‘WeChat friends’ each associate has, and in turn would not only openly invite customers to friend the associates of their choosing in the future, but empower the associates.
“Brands should think about ways to empower sales associates to post quality content,” proposing an alternative way, Cindy Xie, founder of retail consultancy firm Retail Connection said, “because the open rate of luxury brands’ official WeChat campaign is often low, and customers are more accustomed to checking updates on their WeChat if it’s someone on their friend’s moment page.”
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