Temu is a shopping app marketplace that’s been downloaded millions of times, first launched in the US, has made it’s way to the UK, and it’s making waves in the ecommerce world with their ‘Shop like a billionaire’ tag line. The question that remains unanswered is will it’s influence be positive and become a marketplace for Western brands and retailers, or is it simply a distraction?
You can hardly avoid Temu ads and it’s all over TikTok, mainly drawing attention for it’s ultra low prices. It’s trying to compete with the likes of Amazon, but all the products are cheap and most appear to ship from China. This means you won’t be receiving your purchases next day, but will likely be waiting a week or more for them to arrive.
You’ll also quickly discover that the products are mainly from the lower end of the ecommerce spectrum. With ultra low prices, you’ll also discover ‘Open sale Limited Time Offers” touting everything from ankle socks reduced from £1.49 to 39p and things you never knew you needed (and really don’t need but now you want one) such as a Cute Animal Toothpaste Tube Squeezer reduced from £1.49 to just 58p.
If the product prices weren’t enough to tempt you, add in the standard free delivery on all orders and you start to wonder who is footing the bill. Take out VAT, and at these prices there’s not even enough left to pay for half a second class stamp, let alone manufacturing and material costs.
The only conclusion it’s possible to draw is that someone is buying market share (and by all accounts very successfully – I have friends who have succumbed to the allure of that must have gadget they didn’t know they wanted but purchased anyway.
What you won’t find on Temu, at least not yet, is higher priced branded goods from names that you recognise. If it’s not cheap, lightweight and easy to ship, and especially sold at unbelievably low prices, it’s not on Temu. So if you look for a DeWalt drill, you’ll find some cheap drill bits but you won’t find any DeWalt products but you’ll find plenty of unbranded drill bits, accessories and paraphernalia, like perhaps a wall mounted Power Tool Organizer reduced from £19.99 to £10.48.
Perhaps it’s best not to visit Temu with a shopping list in mind, but to use it as a discovery engine and you’ll end up buying the stuff you really didn’t want, much of which probably turns out to be great for what it is, but how long you’ll want to keep it and use it is up to you to decide once it arrives. At least you’ll have fun shopping which is what Temu is all about and it won’t cost you a fortune to get your ecommerce fix.
There is one company that’s not buying the Temu story though and doesn’t trust it’s prices and deep investment pockets to buy market share, and that’s Amazon. Amazon have excluded Temu from their price comparison engine, used to ensure offers from sellers displayed to consumers are competitive and reducing visibility for offers the marketplace considers too far from the market norm.
Amazon say that they don’t compare or match prices from marketplace which are questionable, and especially not from marketplaces which may display counterfeit goods. Temu have a policy that sellers offers which infringe copyright are not allowed, and indeed we struggled and gave up attempting to find a single product on the marketplace which is from a recognisable brand. What you will find is a deluge of products from Chinese manufacturers and their army of pseudo brand resellers all listing the same products under different labels on behalf of parent factories.
Temu isn’t going away and their investment must be eyewatering to support their opening deals and free postage offers. It remains to be seen how long the ultra low pricing can last and how much market share they want to buy before they decide it’s time to turn a profit.