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WeChat vs. WhatsApp: how to choose the best for your business

WeChat vs. WhatsApp: how to choose the best for your business

WeChat and WhatsApp are two of the most popular messaging apps in the world:

  • As of September 2021, WhatsApp had over 2 billion active users worldwide, making it the most popular messaging app globally

  • WeChat had over 1.2 billion monthly active users as of March 2021, primarily concentrated in China and Asia

While they share many similarities, they also have significant differences that make them better suited for different types of communication needs. Comparing the differences between WeChat vs. WhatsApp is important for businesses that want to choose the best platform for their communication needs. Read on and explore the similarities and differences between WeChat vs. WhatsApp and choose the best platform for your business communication.

What is WeChat?

Instant Messaging apps for work: WeChat

WeChat, a Chinese messaging app crafted by Tencent, emerged as a messaging app for smartphones back in 2011. Since then, it has grown into an all-in-one platform that boasts of a plethora of features including social media, online shopping, and payment services. As a rival to global messaging applications like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, WeChat was introduced to the Chinese tech industry and became an instant hit. Today, over 1.2 billion users worldwide are hooked to WeChat, with the majority being from China.

What is WhatsApp?

Instant Messaging apps for work: WhatsApp Business

WhatsApp, founded in 2009, is one of the messaging apps similar to WeChat. It enables users to send text messages, photos, videos, and other multimedia content to one another. Initially, it was launched as a paid app for iPhone, but later in early 2010, WhatsApp's creators decided to make it available for free due to its growing popularity. Over the years, WhatsApp has grown to become one of the most widely used messaging applications in the world, with over 2.2 billion monthly active users as of 2023.

Pros and cons of WeChat

Successfully logged in to WeChat Web

Pros:

  • Offers payment integration for businesses

  • Additional features such as social media-like profiles, in-app games, and QR code scanning

  • Large user base in China, making it a good option for businesses with a significant Chinese customer base

  • Offers end-to-end encryption for secure messaging

Cons:

  • Primarily designed for Chinese speakers, making it less accessible for non-Chinese speakers

  • Limited global reach compared to WhatsApp

  • Charges businesses for payment integration and other features

Pros and cons of WhatsApp

WhatsApp Business API interactive messages

Pros:

  • Global reach with over 2 billion active users worldwide

  • Supports over 60 languages, making it accessible for businesses operating internationally

  • Free to use

  • Offers end-to-end encryption for secure messaging

Cons:

  • Does not support payment integration

  • Limited additional features on the free version

WeChat vs. WhatsApp: a comparison table

The differences between WeChat vs. WhatsApp can be summarized as follows:

Feature

WhatsApp

WeChat

User base

Over 2 billion worldwide

Over 1 billion primarily in China

Geographic reach

Global

Primarily used in China

Language support

Supports over 60 languages

Supports multiple languages, but primarily for Chinese speakers

Payment integration

WhatsApp Pay is only available in specific regions, the paid WhatsApp Business API allows payment integration

WeChat Pay available in app

Security and privacy

End-to-end encryption

End-to-end encryption, but subject to China's censorship laws

Additional features

Group chats, voice and video calls, file sharing, status updates (advanced automation, chatbot, and integrations available on the WhatsApp Business API)

Group chats, voice and video calls, file sharing, social media-like profiles, in-app games, QR code scanning

Find out more about the differences between the free WhatsApp Business App and the premium WhatsApp Business API.

WeChat vs. WhatsApp: how to choose the best business messaging app

How to improve retail experiences with messaging apps?

If you’re still deciding on whether to use WeChat for your business, use this checklist to help you choose the best messaging app for your business:

  • Determine your business needs based on your location, customer base, language requirements, payment integration needs, and security and privacy concerns

  • Evaluate app features and functionality based on your business needs

  • Compare with other apps similar to WeChat

  • Consider user experience 

  • Test the app before committing to it

  • Consider integration with other tools, such as CRM software and e-commerce stores

  • Cost and value

1. Determine your business needs

The first step in choosing the best messaging app for your business is to determine your business needs. Consider the following factors:

  • Your business location

  • Your customer base

  • Your language requirements

  • Your payment integration needs

  • Your security and privacy concerns

Once you have identified your business needs, you can determine which messaging app is best suited for your needs.

2. Evaluate app features and functionality

The next step is to evaluate the features and functionality of each messaging app. Look for features that will help you meet your business needs. For example, if you require payment integration, WeChat may be the better choice. If you need a platform that supports multiple languages, WhatsApp is the better option.

3. Compare with other apps similar to WeChat

Once you looked at the differences between WeChat vs. WhatsApp, it’s also good to consider other messaging apps similar to WeChat:

  • Telegram: Telegram is a cloud-based messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages. It also has a feature to create channels and groups with a large number of members.

  • LINE: LINE is a messaging app that originated in Japan, offering various features like voice and video calls, group chats, and stickers. It also allows users to follow celebrities and companies on the app and interact with them.

  • Viber: Viber is a messaging app that offers features like voice and video calls, group chats, and stickers. It also allows users to make calls to non-Viber users at a low cost.

SleekFlow omnichannel inbox live chat widget on e-commerce website

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4. Consider user experience

Another important factor to consider when choosing a messaging app for your business is the user experience. Consider how easy it is to use the app and map out the customer experience on messaging apps like WeChat. If your employees or customers find the app difficult to use them to message your brand and inquire about your products, it may not be the best choice for your business.

5. Test the app

Before committing to a messaging app, it's a good idea to test it out first. Try using both WhatsApp and WeChat and see which one feels more natural to you. You can also ask your employees or customers to try both apps and provide feedback.

6. Consider integration with other tools

If your business uses other tools such as CRM software, it's essential to consider how well the messaging app integrates with those tools. Look for apps that offer easy integration with the tools you use to make communication more streamlined.

7. Factor in cost

Finally, factor in the cost of using the messaging app. Messaging apps like WeChat charges businesses for payment integration and other features while WhatsApp has a free business app. Consider how much you're willing to spend and how much value the app will bring to your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Complete your omnichannel business strategy with WeChat and WhatsApp on SleekFlow

Businesses should carefully consider their communication needs and choose the messaging app that best aligns with those needs. While WhatsApp vs. WeChat have their respective strengths and weaknesses, businesses can use both to attend to customers who prefer one over the other. 

Omnichannel integration tools on SleekFlow

If managing multiple messaging apps gets too overwhelming, smart tools can be incorporated to strengthen your omnichannel business strategies. By adopting an omnichannel strategy, you can then streamline your communication channels and provide a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints.

We selected SleekFlow because it had the ability to connect with our in-house-built system using APIs. It provided a stable platform for our team to access and manage one WhatsApp number. It also had a user-friendly interface, making it an obvious choice for us.

Bill Lau

Bill Lau

Founder of Holimood

SleekFlow is a comprehensive omnichannel communication platform that can help businesses manage conversations on both WeChat and WhatsApp. There is a wide range of features that can help businesses juggle tasks and manage conversations effectively, including:

Stay ahead of the competition. Complete your omnichannel business strategy today with SleekFlow.

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