Help Desk

It's not as difficult as you might think...

Troubleshooting & FAQ

Getting Started

How can I set up an account?


You can first register for a 14-day trial account here: https://api.mini.azoyagroup.com/management/register.html. After the trial ends, please contact us to upgrade your account to the full version.




Where do I register for a WeChat mini-program?


You can register your WeChat mini-program account here: https://mp.weixin.qq.com Please note that you should register as an overseas corporation. Registering the account under a civil person will not grant you permission to launch an e-commerce mini-program. The application should take 5 - 15 working days, and you should provide all relevant documents required by Tencent. After submitting the application for verification, you will need to pay 99 USD directly to Tencent from the bank account you put in the application. Please note that one overseas entity can only register 50 mini-program (11/07/2018 policy). Details of the documentation for the mini-program application: - Authroization letter (download from Tencent) - Business license (digital copy) - Phone bill of the contact person - Passport or personal ID of the contact person - Trademark registration letter (if you are a known brand in China)




I don’t know any Chinese. Can I still sell to Chinese consumers?


You can, but you should hire a native Chinese marketer or agency. The China market is incredibly competitive and full of local players. After all, China is the world’s manufacturing hub, so there are many ready and willing suppliers to compete with.

If you’re going to set up a cross-border e-commerce store on WeChat, it needs to have Chinese content, the product descriptions must be in Chinese, and Chinese customer service is a must, because all of your local competitors will be providing these.




Do you provide translation or marketing services to help me grow my brand?


Azoya provides fully managed e-commerce site set-up and operations for large, enterprise-level brand and retailers. If you are looking for such services, please check out our official corporate website here: http://www.azoyagroup.com/.

At this point Azoya does not provide any such marketing or operational services for small brands. What you can do is 1. hire an experienced, native Chinese social media marketer or 2. hire one of our partner agencies. We have a list of preferred service providers here: https://www.wechat.azoyagroup.com/list-of-service-providers




Do I need a China company to set up a mini-program store and sell to China?


No. Our platform was designed for cross-border e-commerce players. It integrates cross-border payments, IT infrastructure, logistics, and customs clearance processes so that overseas brands and retailers can set up and operate their own Chinese WeChat mini-program stores without having to set up a China entity.





Fees & Payments

How do I deal with cross-border payments?


Azoya will help you settle local Chinese transactions and remit the funds back to a bank account in your home country on the next 2 day ( T+2 settlements ). We charge a transaction fee that varies depending on the situation. Please contact us to learn more. Please note that to register an account for cross-border payment, you should have a valid business in your home country. Azoya Expert may ask you to provide your AML (anti-money launcering) declaration letter, shareholder's passport, utility bills, and other information as part of the KYC (know your customer) requirement by AML center from China, New Zealand, and WeChat.




What fees do you charge?


We charge a fixed monthly fee and a payment transaction fee that varies depending on the situation, as well as a sales commission that depends on your package.

Our LITE package charges 249 USD a month plus a 3% sales commission and payment transaction fee.

Our STANDARD package charges 499 USD a month plus a 1.5% sales commission and payment transaction fee.

We will collect monthly sales commission from you and issue you an invoice that specify the amount to pay.

We also offer more customized WeChat store solutions for those looking for a more sophisticated solution.




How do we get paid?


Azoya doesn't handle payments and settlements for you - we will set up a payment account for you to collect WeChat Cross-border Payment from a certified PSP provider. You will enter a payment agreement with the PSP provider, who will remits the money back to your bank account in your home country for each transaction ( T+2 settlements ).

Your account receivables will deduct the payment gateway fee from your total revenue. We charge commission on a monthly basis, and we will collect directly from you.





Logistics & Customs Clearance

How does cross-border shipping and customs clearance work?


There are three primary ways in which you can ship products to the customer:

1. Postal shipping,

2. Commercial (B2C) shipping,

3. Bonded warehouse stocking & shipping (B2B2C).

Postal shipping involves the use of personal customs clearance processes to ship goods across borders. You may consider your local postal offices for rates, or contact these following logistics service providers: DHL, PostNL, FedEx, UPS, Royal Mail, China Post, Hong Kong Post, Australia Post.

Commercial shipping is also a way for merchants to ship directly to consumers, but the customs clearance requirements, processes, and taxes are different and you generally need to register a China entity to do so. You may contact these companies for detail: SF Express, EWE, FedEx, Aramex, DHL.

Lastly, you can store items in bonded warehouses in China free trade zones or Hong Kong so that items can be fulfilled faster. We cover logistics, customs clearance, and taxes in more detail here. For bonded warehouse solution, you may need to contact us for further information at wechat@azoyagroup.com.

For those starting off for the first time without a China company and low sales volumes, we recommend the postal shipping option and commercial shipping, such as DHL and Post NL.

Our solution enables you to integrate logistics tracking so that your customers can track cross-border shipments. Please remember to fill in your logistics tracking number when you fulfill each order.




Do you have a list of shipping providers we can use?


Yes, Our list of recommended shipping providers is here: https://www.wechat.azoyagroup.com/list-of-service-providers.




How do I manage cross-border returns?


Generally, it is very difficult to manage returns for a cross-border e-commerce business. Once the products have been paid for and shipped, the costs of refunding/remitting the money and sending the products back across borders are too high. Though it is possible to set up a returns address, generally we recommend that brands adopt a less lenient returns policy and avoid selling products where the return rate is abnormally high (apparel).

For those who do choose to offer lenient returns policies, you can set up a returns address in China and try to re-use returned goods through other marketing channels. WE DON'T RECOMMEND TO RE-SELL RETURNED PRODUCTS ON YOUR MINI-PROGRAM STORE. Many brands write off returned goods or donate them to charity. Typically a good tactic is to award coupons to customers who return goods, instead of cash.




How do I track my goods in transit?


Our platform enables you to integrate logistics tracking into your store, so that customers can input a tracking number and see where the package is. If you did not found your logistics partners when you fulfill the orders, please contact us at wechat@azoyagroup.com.




What are the restrictions for cross-border imports? What is the ‘Positive List’?


Postal Import (or UPU for reference) For postal shipments, there should not be more than six items, and altogether the value of the items should not be more than 2,000 RMB. However, if the shipment consists of just one item, then there is no limit on the value of that one item. Merchants should think carefully, however, if they want high-value items such as handbags to be handled by postal couriers. Products cannot be on the list of banned items of either the national post office or China customs. There is no requirement for the products to acquire import permit from the Chinese customs or registration filing. Retailers should provide details of the products and the recipient for customs declaration purposes. Cross-border E-commerce Import The Positive List was introduced in April 2016, and the government designates certain items as eligible, and other items as ineligible. Products not on the list need to have import permits, registration forms (e.g. nutrition products need to apply for CFDA permit for domestic circulation and sales) and other filings, which are pre-requisites for customs clearance certificates. However, these requirements have not been enforced and all items are still regarded as personal items, though they are taxed under the Business Commercial tax rates.




Do I need a warehouse in the free-trade-zone?


If you are just starting to sell to China, the answer is most likely no. Free-trade-zone warehouses, also known as bonded warehouses, store goods closer to the customer so they can fulfill orders quickly. However, the inventory risk is high as a newcomer to the market; if you cannot sell your inventory you will likely have to write it down. Bonded warehousing is more for larger players who have predictable volumes. Once you build up your business and customer demand, then you can think about moving your stock to a bonded warehouse for a better customer experience.





WeChat 101

What is a WeChat mini-program and why should I care?


WeChat mini-programs are mini-apps within WeChat that can be easily searched and accessible by WeChat users. Since they are limited to 2 megabytes per page, they can easily be loaded. Brands and retailers can set up small e-commerce stores on mini-programs, which can be equipped with WeChat pay. For many brands, their Wechat mini-program stores act as their official store in China. This is because China is a mobile-first internet market and many Chinese internet users do not regularly use desktop or laptop computers. This is also why e-mail is less commonly used in China (people prefer instant messaging via QQ/WeChat). The advantages of mini-programs is that one can launch social marketing campaigns that WeChat users can share with one another, such as group buying, coupon sharing, e-commerce games, raffles, and more. Compared to a WeChat H5 store on an official account, mini-program stores have much more functionality and more room for attractive, enticing marketing materials and campaigns.




What is a WeChat Official Account?


WeChat Official Accounts are similar to brand pages on Facebook. They are primarily used for providing information on your brand and products, acting as a crucial content marketing tool and social media link between brands and customers.

Brands can send updates and push notifications to their WeChat official account followers. They also can link to H5 mobile stores within WeChat, though the functions are much more limited than those of WeChat mini-programs.

There are three different kinds of WeChat Official Accounts: service accounts, subscription accounts, and enterprise accounts.




What’s the difference between a service account and a subscription account?


Service accounts

Service accounts are suitable for businesses and organizations that may not send updates very frequently. When users follow a service account, they can receive messages that show up on their main chat interface.

Those running a service account are only allowed to send four campaign messages a month, though these campaigns can consist of up to four articles.

However, service accounts can provide a wider set of services, such as customer service, mini e-commerce stores, and other interactive features. Many merchants use service accounts so that customers with questions can directly contact their customer service teams.

Overall, the functions for services accounts are more broad and comprehensive; you can better track user data and their locations. Such data can provide better insights into your users.

Subscription Accounts

Subscription accounts are designed for media and individual content publishers whose main function is broadcasting content.

Subscription accounts can broadcast one campaign a day, but are hidden in a special Subscriptions folder that aggregates all accounts followed. This is to prevent too much spam from negatively impacting the user experience.




Can foreign companies register for WeChat official accounts?


Service accounts are the only accounts that foreign legal entities are allowed to register for, and are limited for them in that they don’t have API access nor WeChat Pay.

However, as a content marketing tool, service accounts can still be a powerful tool in that they show up in user’s main chat window instead of in a larger folder like subscription accounts.

What foreign companies can do is hire a local agency to set up and manage a WeChat account for them; however, this means that the account would belong to the agency and not them. This method is much quicker, taking around a week for approval.

In comparison, a foreign legal entity registering for a service account may have to wait 2-3 months for approval. For certain countries, Tencent also requests that companies invest in advertising services in order to create an account.




What are the drawbacks to WeChat mini-program stores?


The main problem with mini-program marketing is that they cannot send out push notifications when a new piece of content, product, or marketing campaign is released.

Mini-programs also cannot be shared on users’ WeChat moments, which limits their ability to go viral.

These two drawbacks severely limit mini-programs’ ability to draw user traffic.

What brands and retailers have to do is leverage the use of WeChat official accounts as a marketing tool. Official accounts are designed to push content. They can send notifications and also link to mini-programs.

Working with influencers can also help, as many of them have their own official accounts that can link to other mini-programs.




How do I drive traffic to my WeChat mini-program store?


Unfortunately, there is no Facebook equivalent in terms of basic advertising for small & medium businesses on WeChat. The barriers to entry are much higher as WeChat’s advertising options are less developed and less targeted.

Additionally, since WeChat is a closed network, users cannot see the news feeds of users they are not connected with and vice versa. This means that the network is more fragmented and users can only see content from users they are connected with and official accounts they are following.

What this means is that brands need to create highly compelling, useful content that will encourage users to share amongst themselves. Chinese e-commerce platform Pinduoduo was able to reach 300 million users within three years by providing steep group discounts on every day goods, targeting less affluent customers in smaller Chinese cities and encouraging them to share such discounts with friends and family.

Brands and retailers usually drive traffic through 1. content marketing on WeChat official accounts, Weibo, Little Red Book, 2. KOL/influencer marketing, and 3. devising unique, innovative marketing campaigns that may include promotions such as group-buying, coupon-sharing, loyalty member awards, raffles, etc. Some even go as far as to design interactive games.




Where do I register for a WeChat mini-program?


You can register your WeChat mini-program account here: https://mp.weixin.qq.com Please note that you should register as an oversea corporation. Registering the account under a civil person will not grant you permission to launch an e-commerce mini-program. The application should take 5 - 15 working days, and you should provide all relevant documents required by Tencent. After submitting the application for verification, you will need to pay 99 USD directly to Tencent from the bank account you put in the application. Please note that one overseas entity can only register 50 mini-program (11/07/2018 policy). Details of the documentation for the mini-program application: - Authroization letter (download from Tencent) - Business license (digital copy) - Phone bill of the contact person - Passport or personal ID of the contact person - Trademark registration letter (if you are a known brand in China)




Why should I set up a WeChat mini-program store over a full-blown e-commerce website or marketplaces such as Tmall or JD.com?


Many brands nowadays treat their WeChat mini-program stores as their official mobile stores. China is a mobile-first market and many internet users do not use desktop/laptop computers nor shop on standalone e-commerce sites designed for desktop users. Mini-programs are made for mobile in that they are limited to 2 megabytes of data per page, load quickly, and can be easily accessed through the WeChat interface. The benefits of mini-programs over marketplaces are that the costs are lower and brands have more control over their store - i.e. they don't need to pay high commissions and they can decide what kind of content, banners, and promotions to put on the store. On marketplace platforms where there are tens of thousands of brands, there is much more limited space to come up with creative marketing campaigns. Lastly, marketplaces are getting more and more difficult to get on. Generally speaking you need to pay tens of thousands of dollars in upfront costs to qualify and many marketplaces are only taking brands from certain categories. Most small and emerging brands do not qualify for large marketplace platforms. The benefits of mini-programs over a standalone site are 1. the costs are lower to set up, 2. there is less maintenance required with regards to IT, design, and payments, and 3. you can leverage WeChat's billion-plus user base to help drive traffic and brand awareness. Brands often devise innovative social commerce and marketing campaigns on mini-programs that can go viral.





Cross-Border E-Commerce Basics

What is the definition of cross-border e-commerce in China?


To put it simply, cross-border e-commerce is the online purchase of goods from abroad, typically from merchants that operate in different countries, different jurisdictions, and even different languages. This means that brands can sell and ship products directly to Chinese consumers, through special customs clearance regulations that are different from those of general trade. China’s CBEC pilot zones and their special customs clearance gateways enable them to do this. International retailers and merchants can stock goods in their home countries or bonded warehouses in Hong Kong or Chinese free trade zones, reducing the inventory risk of exporting to China and stocking them in Chinese warehouses. This also eliminates the need for wholesalers or importers in the middle.




Is cross-border e-commerce a long-term solution for me?


For some brands/retailers, cross-border e-commerce is a stepping stone for those who want to test the market but eventually move to general trade, where they can stock inventory in China and set up offline retail operations. For others, cross-border e-commerce can be a long-term solution for those who choose not to build out complete retail operations in China. Sometimes going through the general trade import channel is a major hassle. For health & nutrition products, entering China through general trade requires an expensive and lengthy product registration process with the China Food & Drug Administration, which sometimes can take years. For cosmetics products, entering China through general trade requires animal testing for product approval purposes, which many international cruelty-free brands refuse to do. For other categories such as mom & baby or luxury products, consumers may prefer to purchase from abroad because of the prevalence of fake goods in China. Since China customs is cutting down on the gray-market daigou trade, cross-border e-commerce is likely to become more popular over time.




How should I budget for a cross-border e-commerce strategy?


Retailers that choose to enter the China market via cross-border e-commerce and WeChat mini-programs need to invest in these areas: · Warehousing and stocking inventory · Cross-border shipping · Promotional campaigns and other marketing activities · Daily operations for China market and miscellaneous spending





WeChat Policy

WeChat Team asked me to delete user data for GDPR compliance


WeChat may occasionally contact you to delete certain user data from your mini-program system. They may send you an email containing a .csv file with user info. Normally the .csv should only have your mini-program name and the APP id. If you found that the .csv file contain other user's name/wechat ID, please contact us at wechat@azoyagroup.com so that we can help you remove the user info and authorization.





 

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