Temu sprang onto the US e-commerce scene with a bold claim that it can deliver quality products at affordable prices for just about any budget. Yes, that’s right – “quality” and “affordability” in the same sentence.
While most people would have dismissed this as marketing hyperbole, a closer inspection reveals that Temu is a sister company of Pinduoduo, the fast-rising e-commerce giant that surpassed Alibaba in the number of active buyers in China last year. Both Pinduoduo and Temu are under the Nasdaq-listed group company with the ticker PDD.
Pinduoduo is known for its value-for-money products and for helping manufacturers to create direct-to-consumer brands that were great bargains because they skipped the intermediaries and passed on the savings to consumers.
Could Temu be taking a leaf out of its sister’s book? There may be something to this yet.
Living on the West Coast of the United States, I’m no stranger to shopping apps from China. Many have come knocking on these shores, from Wish, which receives plenty of complaints about its poor quality, to ultra-fast fashion phenom Shein. And of course, Amazon, the e-commerce market leader, hosts plenty of merchants from China. Can Temu really do something different and better?
There was only one way to find out. Downloading the app from the Google Play Store, I was surprised to learn that the app made it to No. 1 shopping app just two weeks after its launch. A recent check showed that Temu was No. 2 for iPhone users on Oct. 16, according to data.ai, which monitors app downloads. Temu is also available as a website at www.temu.com.
Unlike the Pinduoduo app, the Temu app interface was much less “busy” and did not have the flurry of activity that characterizes many Chinese mobile apps. Buying from the app was easy enough – they had many different categories and I ordered multiple items, including toys for my pet, a Peppa pig popsicle maker, and a salad oil spray bottle.
While shopping on Temu, I noticed that items seem to get sold out quickly. The items I left in my shopping cart often sold out after just a day. This means Temu is doing brisk business and prompts me to place orders more decisively in order not to miss out.
Considering that Temu had just launched in the US and that my items are ordered from different vendors, getting the package in fewer than five business days was very impressive. Usually, orders from Shein or AliExpress would take up to at least two weeks to arrive.
For me, the most attractive part of the Temu app is the New User section, where the prices of goods are mostly priced below $3.99, including wearable accessories, electronic product accessories, and daily necessities. Given that a dozen eggs in southern California cost $5.99, I wonder how some of these items are cheaper than eggs.
Temu says that it shares the same sourcing and fulfillment network as Pinduoduo, which features more than 11 million merchants, many of them top manufacturers in their respective fields. So even though it is less than two months old, Temu’s advantage in sourcing the best quality products at the lowest prices shows.
My orders came in one neat package. The items were well organized, with the breakable items packed in the middle with ample cushioning. The highest-priced item I bought was a large faux fur carpet for $12 after a discount. The overall quality was good, and the faux fur felt very soft. Typically, such carpets would cost about $30 in retail stores.
My dog was very fond of the “red lobster” toy ($0.80) that I got for him. It soon became his favorite and displaced other toys. This was perfect because I often felt that dog toys were costly given how quickly they get torn apart by my feisty puppy. The oil-spray bottle similarly cost $2.50 compared with a similar item for $9 that I saw on another site.
I got everything I ordered, and I got it well before the indicative delivery date, with free shipping. I would use Temu again and recommend it to my friends. If Temu can keep up its promise to deliver quality products at affordable prices, I believe it will find many eager customers.