Apple has launched an online store on Tencent’s messaging app WeChat as it looks to expand its reach in one of its most significant markets around the world.
The store, which has been launched as a mini program or an app within WeChat’s ecosystem, gives users access to not only the full range of Apple products, including the latest iPhone 14 but also services such as the company’s device trade-in program.
Customers that choose to shop through Apple’s WeChat store will also get access to other benefits, such as free shipping and three-hour delivery for a fee, according to CNBC.
Apple, a company well known for its focus on tightly controlling its user experience, whether in-store or online, has recently been looking to expand to other third-party channels to reach new Chinese customers. The company already operates an official store on Alibaba’s eCommerce site Tmall, making JD.com the designated reseller for Apple products in the country.
These efforts have so far paid off. In Q1 2023, smartphone sales in China fell 5% year-on-year — the lowest figure recorded since 2014. Yet, Apple recorded a 6% year-on-year sales growth for its iPhones.
It is worth noting that even though China is a critical sales market for Apple today, the company is starting to move its manufacturing out of the country — largely to shield its business from the whims of China’s fast-evolving regulatory landscape. Over the past year, the country’s strict regulatory environment has prompted many U.S. businesses to exit China.
Just last week, the Chinese government imposed export controls on rare metals critical in chip making. The new rule is largely seen as a response to U.S. and Europe’s export limits on semiconductor manufacturing equipment.