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E-gift card lures Valentine's Day shoppers

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

02-13-2017 07:27 BJT

For those scratching their heads about a decent but budget Valentine's Day idea, a Starbucks-branded e-gift card might take your fancy.

A woman surfs internet at a Starbucks outlet in Beijing. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

A woman surfs internet at a Starbucks outlet in Beijing. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

You can now text your beloved one with a peach frappuccino, after mobile social app WeChat partnered with Starbucks Corp to roll out its first ever social gifting feature that allows the completion of a social-to-commerce loop within the app.

The new function, "Say it with Starbucks", is embedded in Starbucks' official WeChat account and enables WeChat users to gift a beverage priced from 31 yuan ($4.50) or a digital gift card (up to 500 yuan) with personalized messages.

With just a few taps on the phone, the transactions are handled through WeChat Pay, its affiliate payment tool. The coupons will then be saved in the recipient's WeChat app and can be redeemed at Starbucks' 2,500 stores in the Chinese mainland.

The partnership follows a December agreement when the coffee giant began accepting WeChat Pay as a payment method. Starbucks China Chief Executive Officer Belinda Wong said the move aimed to foster closer human relationships through instant deliveries of gratitude and love.

For WeChat, the collaboration is also the latest example of how the all-purpose app banks on its 846-million user base to mine bigger potential for mobile shopping. Li Peiku, deputy general manager of WeChat Open Platform division, said it will continue to connect users with quality services with an enhanced and constantly-evolving digital experience.

WeChat Pay is still second to archrival AliPay in China's third-party payment sector, but it is quickly eating up the market share and will hit an estimated 30 percent in 2017, according to Counterpoint Technology Market Research.

The gift-card function is another area where WeChat flexes its muscles to divert more traffic to the broader Tencent ecosystem including payment, just as it did with the virtual red packet campaign, said Zhang Mengmeng, a senior analyst at Counterpoint.

Social commerce-or the ability to purchase goods directly through a social media platform-has become pervasive among internet users.

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