PDD's Temu budget e-commerce app said to enter UK as it ramps up competition with Shein, TikTok in accelerated expansion

·3 min read

PDD Holdings subsidiary Temu, the Boston-based budget shopping app, is said to launch in the UK just weeks after entering Australia and New Zealand, bringing the number of markets in which it operates to five, according to local media reports on Monday.

As part of the official launch planned for March 25, Temu will exempt merchants on the platform from commissions and deposit fees, according to Chinese media All Weather TMT.

The company is currently looking for senior legal counsel based in Dublin, Ireland - the top city for European headquarters owing to favourable tax policies - with "experience with both US and EU privacy laws, regulations, and standards" and "deep understanding of UK/EU laws", according to job postings on LinkedIn.

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Neither Temu nor PDD immediately responded to requests for comment on Monday.

Temu has accelerated the pace of its expansion into new markets since finding some early success in the US, where it launched in September and ran a Super Bowl ad in February.

Last month, Temu expanded to Canada. On Sunday, the company announced its launch in Australia and simultaneously added New Zealand as an option on the platform.

The app has quickly gained traction in Australasia. Temu was Australia's 10th most downloaded shopping app on Apple's iOS by Monday, up from 22nd on the day of its launch, according to market intelligence Data.ai. In New Zealand, the app was at the top of the same chart on Monday, up from 8th place a day earlier.

With the UK expansion, Temu is showing how next-generation Chinese-backed e-commerce apps have grown in recent years to become a powerful retail force in large consumer markets on the back of aggressive pricing strategies made possible through supply chain advantages in China.

Temu's launch may also have raised the profile of rival Shein, a fast-fashion company founded in China and now headquartered in Singapore. Shein was the most downloaded shopping app on iOS devices in Australia on Monday, up from third place the day before, according to Data.ai.

Shein became a hot app in the US during the pandemic, amid the boom in online shopping, and has become one of the world's most valuable start-ups. The emergence of Temu, owned by the same company as Chinese budget e-commerce powerhouse Pinduoduo, has put Shein on notice as the two fight to become the next big Chinese internet success story overseas after the viral short video platform TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance.

But TikTok has also entered the budget e-commerce fray with aggressive marketing of its online shopping features in the UK, US and Southeast Asia.

Still, Temu is relatively green compared with its rivals, and PDD is not as experienced overseas. The company's "international business is currently in a very early stage", Liu Jun, PDD's vice-president of finance, said in a conference call with analysts in November.

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