How beacons work with WeChat

Nicholas Bortoluzzi

Nicholas Bortoluzzi

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How do beacons work with WeChat Shake [Video]

WeChat global usage

With an astounding 700 million WeChat users globally, as well as an increasing adoption and use of mobile wallet technology, it’s time to dig a bit more into the features and functionalities that can be performed through the app owned by the Chinese company Tencent. In this article we will focus mainly on beacons and how they can work when paired with WeChat wallet and Shake functionality.

The chart below shows the growth of global WeChat users from January 2013 to December 2015.

WeChat users

A little word on beacons, and how beacons work with WeChat

In general, a beacon can be defined as extremely accurate location device that broadcasts signals at set intervals so that smart devices within its proximity are able to listen for these signals and react accordingly. Beacons run off of Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) wireless technology. They broadcast signals to user users in a range that can vary from centimetres up to 75 meters.

WeChat beacon
Example of WeChat beacon

To have a grasp of the underlying potential of beacon technology, the value of in-store retail sales influenced by beacon-triggered messages in the United States in 2015 and 2016 was $4.1 billion. And the trend is growing.

But before jumping into the details of WeChat beacons, I would suggest taking a moment to download our beacon 101 guide which thoroughly explains what beacons are and how they work. The guide can be downloaded here.

All of the above sounds pretty exciting. So what happens if we combine this exciting new technology with the largest social network in China?

The good news is that beacons do work with WeChat. On the other side, Tencent limited the use of connected objects to the shake function only. This means that you can shake your phone to:

  • Access web-pages of WeChat iBeacons in your surrounding.
  • Download coupons and digital cards directly onto your WeChat wallet.
  • Access relevant information to the location or shop you are in proximity to.

Unlike Apple Wallet and other wallet applications, WeChat currently does not allow notifications triggered by beacons (unless through the shake functionality from within the app). 

Discovery process for WeChat beacons

First and foremost, make sure your bluetooth is turned on. Secondly, to experience beacon technology on WeChat you have to open the app (see image below) and follow the steps below:

  1. Once you are in the app, tap on the discover icon at the bottom. This will take you to the ‘discover’ section where you can access WeChat Moments, Games, Scan QR codes and enable the Shake functionality.
  2. At this point tap on ‘Shake’.WeChat beacons
  3. The screen will change into ‘shake’ mode. There are three shake-related icons you can potentially tap on: nearby, people and TV. People function allows to find people nearby who are shaking their phone, TV allows to broadcast entertainment channels and Nearby recognises beacons signals.
  4. To discover beacons nearby, you have to tap on ‘Nearby’ and then shake your phone.
  5. The screen will change into the one you can see on the right side on the image below.
  6. NOTE: if there are no beacons in your proximity, the Nearby icon will not appear.Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 5.22.47 PM
  7. After shaking, your device will provide an output with the available options in your location. The example below shows a ‘welcome to our store’ message.

how beacons work with WeChat

A WeChat beacon case study – how beacons work with WeChat in Hong Kong

Here’s an example of proximity browsing experience with WeChat beacons in Hong Kong during Chinese New year 2016. The experience was designed to deliver the user a ‘luck rating’ for the year of the monkey. To find out more about that experience, please take a look at this article.

So, how do beacons really work with WeChat? And how can you leverage this technology?

It is quite simple. Get your own WeChat beacons here. This will allow you to broadcast notifications and relevant information to your customers who use WeChat.
If you liked this article please leave a comment in the section below and share it on your social media. Also, if you are interested in finding out more about WeChat and its features you might want to take a look at our previous article Is WeChat Wallet The Strongest Mobile Wallet Available?.

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