- Who is Conne Chan? Connie is a General Partner at US venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. She is known for spearheading the firm’s Asia network to bridge the gap between Silicon Valley companies looking to navigate opportunities in Asia, and companies in Asia seeking to understand Silicon Valley. Her knowledge of the Asian market, particularly China, makes her well placed to provide business and cultural insights that can help inform brand and campaign strategy.
- What is social commerce? Social commerce is leveraging other people that you know, or don’t know but follow, to do product discovery or shop together in a socially engaging experience. Social media can solve the discovery problem when it comes to finding your products or services. E.g. We all shop on Amazon but their recommendations aren’t great. We always go to Amazon with something specific to search for already. Social discovery gets you to buy something you never needed to buy, or didn’t know was available. This can be seen as a positive or a negative (Personally, I hate consuming more and try harder every year to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle, but each to their own!).
- What are Super Apps? The poster child is WeChat. It started off for talking to friends but now you can live your entire digital life through it- linking you to other use cases such as engaging with the media. Celebrities, business and paying for services and more.
- Video first media is on the rise- as we all become video natives. Super Apps reinforce the value of video as this medium provides more information, which is conducive to increased shopper confidence- creating the ideal social commerce environment. TikTok has the potential to push social commerce in the West, since it is used for shopping in China. Uber is also considered a front runner for the social commerce movement. While Facebook and Instagram would usually be considered the front runners, recent advertising boycotts have brought their business models into question.
- Discovery and recommendations are the future of social. A personalised approach to content is gaining traction, and this will likely influence the current business model of social media. A welcome move from monetising ads, to monetising discovery and recommendations, which will make the user experience more feel more personal, and less like we’re constantly being sold to.
A little more context:
Buisness Casual inteviews Connie Chan, “The U.S.- China Tech Battle: Social Commerce, Super Apps, and the Future of TikTok”. You can listen to the full podcast here.
“There’s an app for that… But there’s also an app for all of that…”
Want to send message? From there you could order your food, pay for your food. This is very popular in China. WeChat has pushed the idea of an app as an operating system.
WeChat is used for payments. Once payment is enabled, it’s like single sign on for the web. Think of every site – they have your payment details, they know a little about you, it’s a more seamless digital experience. Less friction between parts of your digital life and actions means a smoother user experience and potentially a more lucrative business/commerce experience.
This single sign on approach does raise questions of privacy though.
But despite this, users will see the positive in this. They will likely choose convenience.Super apps are all about convenience. Some users will be put off by the privacy obstacle- giving away some of your data. But often the average person says they’re concerned about privacy, but when it comes to weighing up privacy vs convenience, convenience always wins.
Connie goes on to explain that “We all have like 15-20 opens at a time. We often use tabs as to-do lists in our browser, especially on mobile. Super apps have taken off already because Chinese market is even more mobile-first, and often mobile-only.”. In China, developers and the people building the tech are optimising for mobile first.
Discovery is huge in WeChat. Discovery as a concept is in its infancy.
We all assume Facebook and Instagram will be leading the Super App movement in the West. Uber is one to watch. Yes, they’re focused on travel and food. But the recent postmates acquisition makes them even more interesting.
Discovery is also a great lead-generation opportunity for businesses.
TikTok is currently leading the way with regarding to enabling content discovery, with its algorithm. It’s worth noting that TikTok in the West has fewer features than in China, which begs the question – how will the app evolve in the future?
In China it has livestreaming e-commercing- for clothes, beauty, food.
What does it look like to use tikTok for e-commerce?
Video is a great way to sell stuff. It just gives you more information. Commerce is about discovery and about giving your audience confidence in what they buy. Video gives them the more information about a product to build that confidence.
Gamified pricing is prevalent in China already – i.e. as demand goes up, price goes down.
Social companies already know so much about us and use our data. Right now it’s monetised with ads. Switching the monetisiation to commerce is a relatively simple switch. And from a user perspective, having few ads would be great, and having more persona;ised discovery and purchasing options would likely be more favourable to most.
Personalisation and recommendations are the future of social.