THE FACT : the japanese app with more than 220 million active users
LINE, the messaging app based in Japan, has more than 220 million monthly active users. Two-thirds of its active users are from Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia. As they have been trying for a long time to do more than just basic text chat and voice calling inside its app, LINE announced recently that it will release three new features in order to further enhance the convenience of LINE accounts and close the distance between users and businesses (LINE’s official accounts).
The first feature is LINE Reward Cards, from now on, users can collect stamps or points at their favourite stores then easily exchange them for rewards, using the LINE app. This service is now available in Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand.
The second feature is Coupon Book, LINE users in all geographical regions can use Coupon Book to manage coupons issued by various companies and stores, and Coupon Book official account can also send users expiration reminders for favorite coupons.
The third one is Online Store feature, with only a service charge of 4.98%, LINE official accounts (LINE@) can sell products within the app. Account owners can also add products only available to LINE@ friends, providing opportunity and incentive for users to add their LINE@ accounts as friends. But users have no obligation to log in or create LINE accounts to make purchases.
What’s more, LINE has plans to launch Official Web Apps, available to all existing official account customers with a monthly fee of JPY 20,000 (excluding tax). Official Web Apps are web services linked to LINE accounts, each official account can add up to 100,000 friends and send/receive unlimited messages using the API. Today, over 40 companies from different sectors have expressed their intentions or interest in becoming Official Web Apps.
Official Web Apps will be a new channel to gain new users, redirect users to perform specific actions, and deliver seamless experiences. Users, then, will easily and quickly enjoy various services without having to install standalone apps, everything can be done within LINE app. For example, the Profile+ feature allows users to choose automatically reservation, purchase, and inquiry forms with selected personal information saved on LINE. The more they use Official Web Apps, the easier it is for users to receive personalized information and services through LINE.
Since May 2016, LINE Beacon are available in Japan, so users can receive Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) data via LINE. It allows business owners to set up beacons in their stores and deliver beacon-based services which can extend offline customer retention and acquisition into the physical world.
INTERPRETATION : Engaging the customer through the app
Today, conversational commerce is a hot topic, from Facebook to WeChat, more and more tech companies which develop messaging apps are devoted to seizing this commercial opportunity.
The trend of introducing online shops into messaging apps and communicating with customers within apps can be explained by the fact that even though people rely more and more on smartphone apps, they actually keep very few apps in their smartphones for a long time. In addition, chat has already become a popular channel for customers to engage with a business in private: according to a survey, live chat has a 73% customer satisfaction rate, the highest rated even compared to traditional channels like email (61%) and phone (44%). Messaging apps have the potential to make customers more engaged with the brand, both online and offline (by beacon-based services for example).
Moreover, just like what WeChat has already done, Line is trying to implement In-app Billing, the company is working with Japanese banks for cashless payments, loyalty points, and more. It has also inked a deal with JCB to introduce a physical Line Pay credit card in Japan.