Shein's slow but steady rise has reached a crescendo as the fast fashion e-commerce app takes the crown from Amazon as the most downloaded shopping app on Android and iOS in the United States.
Shein Beats Amazon as Most Downloaded App
According to the data released by app tracking firm App Annie, the rise of Shein is quiet because the company maintains a very low profile, despite exceeding $15 billion in valuation, and does not try to make itself known to the media.
The app is also called as the "TikTok for e-commerce" by Matthew Brennan, a China-focused internet analyst who wrote a piece about the company.
The difference is that Shein controls its own production chain, from the design, its prototype, to its procurement to manufacturing, according to TechCrunch.
Each step is highly digitized and integrated with another, which then allows the company to churn out hundreds of new products made for different regions and user tastes. The production always meets its daily rate.
Shein's strategy is not unlike TikTok matching content creators with its users by using algorithms in order to understand the habits and likes of the user in real-time.
On May 11, Shein officially became the most installed shopping app on Android in the United States. Six days later, it became the most installed shopping app on iOS. The app briefly topped the Android chart in late April.
Shein's Rise to Fame
The origin of the company Shein, which was previously named She Inside, is little understood.
On the company's official website, it describes itself as an international B2C fast fashion e-commerce platform that was founded in 2008.
There is no mention of its found and CEO Chris Xu. In a 2018 corporate blog that was posted on the platform WeChat, it wrote that it was headquartered in Nanjing, an eastern Chinese city home known for its historical heritages and the home to famous Chinese appliance brand Suning.
Shein also opened offices in other major Chinese cities as well as in the United States, Belgium, and the United Arab Emirates.
The company's low profile is understandable, especially in times of geopolitical tensions and heightened regulatory scrutiny over China-related tech companies around the world.
Furthermore, Shein owns its sales channel and its user data, which distinguishes it from the numerous generic consumer brands that are relying on Amazon for customer acquisition without any meaningful access to user data.
In June 2020, the Indian government banned Shein among 59 apps, including WeChat and TikTok, that it deemed prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, the defense of the country, as well as the security of state and public order.
As of May 17, Shein was the top iOS shopping app in 54 countries and it ranked top in the category on Android devices across 13 countries.
Shein has not announced who its investors are, but Chinese media reports have listed JAFCO Asia, Capital Nuts, IDG Capital, Greenwoods Asset Management, Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital China, and Xiaomi founder's Shunwei Capital among Shein's backers.
Out of all the listed investors, so far only Sequoia Capital China confirmed that it is one of Shein's backers.
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Written by Sophie Webster