Pinduoduo to launch cross-border retail platform to compete with Shein: report

Pindudouo is reportedly planning to launch a cross-border platform designed to connect Chinese and overseas suppliers with global customers as the Chinese e-commerce giant expands its approach to take on rival Shein.

Why it matters: The move highlights a growing trend of Chinese technology companies considering going global, partly accelerated by China’s regulatory crackdown on the tech sector as well as intense competition and weakening consumption in the domestic market.

Details: Pinduoduo is currently seeking sellers for its new cross-border online marketplace, which the company aims to make available first in the US in September, Chinese media outlet LatePost reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

  • The online retailer is offering registration and referral fee waivers for small and medium-sized merchants in a bid to attract them to sell on its platform, the report said. It is also providing various fulfillment services such as picking products, packing orders, and arranging shipments once the goods are transported to its warehouses in China.
  • Aiming to differentiate itself from Shein, which primarily focuses on fast fashion, beauty, and lifestyle products, Pinduoduo’s new platform will be more of a general marketplace for low-priced household products and other daily necessities, where the company has experience and a competitive advantage.
  • Pinduoduo has set up a team of 80 employees in the southern city of Panyu, where Shein is headquartered, and chief operating officer Gu Pingping is leading the project, according to the report.
  • Pinduoduo did not respond to TechNode’s request for comment on Thursday. 

Context: Shein’s success selling clothing products at super-cheap prices has prompted more Chinese tech firms to follow its model, while existing major players are ratcheting up efforts to maintain their lead in the market.

  • Alibaba was considering the expansion of its Southeast Asian arm, Lazada, into the European market to boost overseas growth, Reuters reported in April.
  • JD.com partnered with Canadian e-commerce company Shopify in January to allow Chinese merchants to sell products to consumers on the latter’s platform, TechCrunch reported.
  • TikTok parent company Bytedance launched a standalone shopping app called “Fanno” late last year in several European countries, including France, Germany, and Britain, SCMP reported.
  • Driven by interest in its summer sales, Shein became the most downloaded e-commerce app in the US with 6.8 million downloads during the second quarter of 2022, surpassing those of Amazon for the first time.
  • Pinduoduo’s active buyer accounts increased 10% to 868.7 million last year, lower than analysts’ expectations of 883.3 million, according to a Bloomberg report.

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