At Zudu, we consider ourselves to have the best of both worlds.
We’re able to help UK and Scottish businesses with their digital marketing, app development and web design, and we help brands looking to tap into China through social media, event management, and more.
During our time working in China with Zudu China and Nihao Scotland, we’ve learned a lot about apps from big players like WeChat and Weibo, who tear up the rulebook when it comes to app development, doing things differently to the way they’re done in the West.
Though not everything that works well in China will translate into the UK, there are things we can learn from China when developing new apps. Below, we’ve rounded up the biggest…
Everything under one roof
In China, WeChat is the “app for everything,” allowing consumers to chat with friends, book a taxi ride, buy their evening meal and even travel halfway across the world. The key to the app’s success lies in its convenience – every customer requirement is met inside of one app.
In the West, it’s more common to break off ideas and concepts into separate websites, brands, and apps, and though that can work well in the majority of cases, it’s also a good idea to assess customer demand and expectations and give people what they want.
Facebook, for example, did well by porting its Messenger service into a separate app, but it found less success in splitting off Marketplace, Pokes, Friends, and Groups into their own apps.
Know what customers want and give it to them where they want it; that might mean streamlining your business and putting several different services under one app “roof”.
Doing so can also cut costs and allow you to reach more customers in the same place.
Social media counts
In China, social networking websites like WeChat aren’t just for sharing cute dog selfies and arranging an afternoon out with your friends – they are there to connect with brands and buy products and services.
Closely integrating social networking into your app is a great way to give shoppers access to the right information at the right place, but also to raise your profile.
There’s no Facebook version of the WeChat Mini App (where brands can build their own apps that live inside of the WeChat ecosystem) but you could bring more of your app and website’s functionality to your Facebook and Instagram pages.
You could experiment with Android Instant Apps to load unique functionality in seconds, and allow your followers to purchase products via the Instagram shopping tool and the soon-to-launch Facebook Pay.
Pay on the go
Alibaba is the biggest e-commerce platform in China, and its consumer-facing business is called Taobao, the country’s equivalent to Amazon.
Virtually everything you could ever want to buy is available on Taobao, and Chinese e-commerce brands carefully craft product descriptions that incorporate the necessary keywords to rank when shoppers search.
What’s different about Taobao and Amazon, however, is that Taobao shoppers can pay for their goods using AliPay, one of the biggest mobile payment platforms in the world.
Users can connect AliPay to all of their favourite apps like WeChat and Weibo, and purchase goods and services without having to leave the website or social networking site they’re on.
The nearest equivalent to AliPay in the West is Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal; make sure you integrate these payment methods into your own app to make it easy for users to complete transactions.
Digital payment wallets are not only more convenient for consumers, but they reduce dwell time and cart abandonment, leading to an increase in sales.
Artificial intelligence and recommendations
China’s answer to Netflix and Amazon Prime is IQIYI, and one of the reasons why it has proven to be so successful is because of its advanced algorithms and recommendations.
Because IQIYI is funded by advertising rather than subscriptions, its developers have worked tirelessly to track users around the web and collect relevant information about them, such as their age, gender, interests, salary, and shopping habits.
IQIYI then uses this data to recommend the most appropriate TV shows and movies, and the right advertising, too.
You can improve the value of your app by collecting data on users and relying on artificial intelligence to offer smart recommendations. Show users products they’d want to buy, ads they’d be interested in, and content that will keep them engaged with your app for hours.
Finally, a quick word on ‘snackable’ content.
The meteoric rise of Chinese social networking site Douyin, known as TikTok in the West, has encouraged everyday folk to record their own short content that lasts between one and ten seconds. Already popularised by Instagram and Snapchat, this short-form, engaging content racks up billions of views every month.
With consumers’ viewing habits changing and attention spans shortening, creating super short-form video content to engage your audience inside of your app makes sense.
Convert your onboarding and tutorials into short-form tappable videos, promote your products with featured user-generated video content, and make text and graphic content shorter and more snackable for smartphones.
The easier it is to consume, the more people will engage with it.
We’ve put together five things that UK businesses can learn from China when developing their own apps, but we’ve barely scratched the surface. Whether you’re thinking about a new app for your business or you’re ready to refresh an existing product, get in touch with the experts in mobile app development in the UK. Call 01382 690 080 to arrange a consultation.