Screenshots of Archive Editions in WeChat's Mini-Program
On April 24th, 2020, a limited edition of 500 Crystalised Pikuchu by Daniel Arsham sold out within hours raising overUS$1 million exclusively on China's WeChat Mini-Program.
With a user base of approximately 800 million people in 2016, WeChat launched Mini-Program, small applications embedded and functioning within the WeChat ecosystem, providing advanced features such as e-commerce, games and task management, etc. Three years later, monthly active users of Mini-Program hit 300 million, generating CNY¥800 billion (about US$113 billion) of transactions in 2019, along with the rapid growth of WeChat Payment service. Today, WeChat Payment executes over 1 billion commercial transitions every day, serving over 500 million merchants selling products and services of all kinds, including of course, the arts.
Audiences to Customers
Launching official WeChat and Weibo accounts is a critical first step for an overseas brand entering the Chinese market, but when the traffic dividend of WeChat official accounts begins to fade and the cost of follower acquisitions starts to rise, what next?
A few of the world's leading non-for-profit cultural institutions have adopted mini-program into their China strategy, museums like Centre Pompidou and MoMA providing in-depth function of free audio guides and visiting map, etc through their Mini-Programs.
Mini-Program, with the magic to convert audiences or readers of WeChat accounts directly into consumers, seems to be the answer for many. In the art world, Daniel Arsham, a contemporary American visual artist, who is engaged with elevating the retail experiences of the world's most valued and known fashion brands, such as DIOR, RIMOWA and UNIQLO, through his branded art series Future Relic, has made quite a splash on Mini-Program recently.
With 45k followers on Chinese Weibo (posting since November 2018), Daniel Arsham landed on WeChat by announcing his new initiative Archive Editions to his followers on Weibo and Instagram. According to Arsham, Archive Editions is a platform selling limited editions by him or his fellow artists exclusively in China. The debut of the platform presented 500 editions of Crystalized Pikachu at CNY¥14,200 each plus CNY¥ 200 shipping fee.
Thanks to the collaboration with the world's most famous brands and his first solo exhibition in China at Shanghai How Art Museum in 2019, Archive Editions' inaugural online shopping scheduled on April 24th (10 days after the announcement) was very much anticipated among his mainly millennial Chinese fans. Daniel Arsham was also very busy with all kinds of promotions to maximise the sales and impact of the platform, from live-streaming with Vogue Business In China on Weibo and Yizhibo, to an unboxing video preview with Hypebeast Weibo Story, as well as using his own Weibo account.
In addition, celebrities/influencers such as Chen He (actor) and Liang Tao (Blogger, Mr. Bags) plus Daniel Arsham's friends in the Chinese art scene, such as Michael Xufu Huang (Collector and Founder of X Museum), Kelly Ying (Collector and Co-founder of ART021 Art Fair) were given access to purchase the product or received it as a gift prior to the public release.
Archive Editions as a Mini-Program
The interface of Archive Editions is no different from most Mini-program shops, including the function of shopping cart, payments, coupons, delivery tracking and customer services contact. The home page of the shop spotlights the star product and all the related information to make the customer appreciate the rarity, exclusivity and authenticity, such as a pair of "handling gloves included" and the "holographic label" and "numbered".
It came as no surprise that the 500 items were sold out very quickly, which means Archive Editions hit CNY¥7,100,000 (roughly US$1 million) revenue. However, the poor shopping experience is unignorable.
Privileged group with priority purchase access
Lessons to take
Technology capacity, transparency level, and instant communication with customers are the three key aspects to the success of a Mini-program-based shopping event.