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How I Started a Profitable Side Business by Selling on WeChat

writer: Celine Fang source:

What if I told you that you can startup a profitable business through a simple mobile app called WeChat without investing too much money? A couple of months ago I took a trip to New York from Ireland (where I live) because I love shopping there. There are so many brands that are either not available in China and Europe, or are much cheaper in the US.

When my friends on WeChat asked me to get them the same dresses that I bought and wore in the US – I suddenly realized that I can make money out of shopping.

This is how my side business began.

Find a unique selling approach

When I first started selling on WeChat, I had no idea what to sell to take since I didn’t create my own products. There are a lot of people in China selling luxury products and other things like baby formula on WeChat already. Those products to me are boring, plus the markets are too saturated.

As far as I know, those who sell luxury products have a low number of sales while popular products like baby formula have very low margins. I believe there is no point in selling something you don’t enjoy yourself. Well, I came from a design background and I wanted to sell something that fits my identity. I like fashion and my friends on WeChat trust my taste, so why not sell unique clothing?

No investment and no inventory needed

The best part about selling on WeChat is I don’t need to purchase inventory in advance. Customers pre-order and then I purchase. Sometimes when a store is having a sale, I will purchase and store some unique items. Because I bought them at a discount, my margins will be much higher and I can always return the unsold products to the store.

WeChat Moments

I went into a shop and saw unique Minions clothing. The latest Minions movie was about to be in theaters soon in China so I knew it was a good opportunity. I took some pictures of the clothing, found photos of celebrities wearing Minions clothing and posted on WeChat Moments (similar to a Facebook post). Then the inquiries started coming in and the next morning I had about 80 orders. That day I had to carry 20kg of clothing home!

Setting up your own group

Since my customer base was getting bigger, I decided to set up my own group instead of posting everything to WeChat moments. It’s easier to communicate with my customers in the group who are interested in my product choices. Also, Chinese people tend to go with the flow, meaning if one customer in the group purchases my products, other customers in the group are very likely to follow.

Another benefit is that they can directly request the products they want you to source. I encourage my customers to introduce their friends into my group and I’ll reward them. Within one month, my sales reached over EUR 12,000 (US$13,400) with over 50 percent profit margin. Not bad for a hobby.

WeChat vs. Taobao

I am a loyal shopper at Taobao and you may wonder why I haven’t opened a shop there. The answer is simple. My advantage is the fact that I am living in Europe – so Chinese consumers approach me for products that are not available in China. Chinese consumers have the perception that foreign products have better quality and better design (even though many of the products are actually made in China). Friends in my WeChat circle know I am physically in Europe so the products I am selling are genuinely from Europe. A lot of sellers on Taobao claim they are selling western products, but usually aren’t. So there is no trust in Taobao when it comes to purchasing products from abroad.

WeChat payment

WeChat has its own payment system. Normally I receive the payment before I deliver the products. That’s why people on WeChat prefer to do business with friends or friends of friends whom they can trust. Alternatively, I offer the Alipay payment option to someone who doesn’t use WeChat payment.

How much you can sell on WeChat totally depend on the products you choose, and the effort and time you put in. I’m only selling on WeChat part-time and I’m making a business out of my shopping addiction. So if you are a shopaholic like me, I suggest you think about making a business out of it!