PDD’s push into the US with Temu is costing it so much, and angering a few of its suppliers, however it’s born of necessity. As Chinese language clients spend much less, different large ecommerce corporations are pushing into Pinduoduo’s core markets, promoting unbranded items and making an attempt to seize a much less rich demographic. Meaning the corporate has to look abroad. “Exploring the US market is the perfect, and doubtless the one technique Pinduoduo might use, when going through an saturated and overly aggressive home market,” Si says.
However the US market isn’t simply exhausting; it’s more and more dangerous for Chinese language corporations.
Temu at present takes benefit of a commerce loophole that permits for duty-free shipments as much as $800 into the US. By transport small packages from its warehouse in Guangzhou to particular person American clients, the corporate can primarily promote duty-free within the US. However small enterprise lobbies are advocating for this “de minimis” threshold to be lowered to $10. If that have been to occur, Temu’s prices would spike.
And, as a Chinese language-owned platform, Temu faces scrutiny from US authorities who see the gathering of knowledge by Chinese language corporations as a nationwide safety menace. In April 2023, the US–China Financial and Safety Evaluate Fee issued a brief that warned of knowledge and provide chain dangers rising from Chinese language-owned ecommerce platforms, together with Shein and Temu.
Calls to ban Chinese language-linked apps altogether have turn into commonplace within the US. In Might, Montana grew to become the primary US state to formally ban TikTok, the social media platform owned by Beijing-based Bytedance. The earlier month, a CNN investigation confirmed that the Pinduoduo app can bypass customers’ cellphone safety to watch actions on different apps, examine notifications, learn personal messages, and alter settings. Despite the fact that there isn’t a proof displaying that Temu has comparable information safety considerations, Montana’s governor Greg Gianforte included the app in a listing of applied sciences he stated are “linked to overseas adversaries.”
“Western governments are very terrified of TikTok as a result of it might direct folks’s pondering, however the handle info and fee info saved within the Temu app can be very delicate to the US authorities,” Li says. The US authorities is worried that non-public information of Americans may very well be transmitted to China, for the needs of intelligence gathering. If Temu will get large enough, the US authorities may come to the conclusion that it has an excessive amount of information on American customers.
However behind these dangers, there may be the possibility that the availability chain simply can’t maintain the low costs that folks have come to count on.
In China, some sellers have already given up. An enormous shift occurred in December 2022, when Temu began to require producers to bear half of the transport bills to ship merchandise from factories to its warehouse in Guangzhou.
Sandy says that she give up promoting pet merchandise on Temu in March. “We despatched them just a few merchandise to do a check run, these merchandise bought nicely, and Temu requested us to ship them merchandise in massive bulk,” she says. “However after we spent cash to get the stock prepared, and paid the transport bills to ship to their warehouse, Temu requested us to decrease our worth.”
That generally means being requested to promote at a loss, she says, but when sellers can’t meet Temu’s steered costs, their merchandise are delisted. The price of processing returns can be usually larger than the worth of the product being shipped, that means that whereas clients within the US really feel capable of ship again their items with out penalty, they’re actually pushing the issue again down the road to hard-pressed sellers.
After promoting her current stock at a loss, Sandy closed down her store on Temu. She remains to be being approached by Temu, which has requested her to ship a few of her best-selling merchandise to considered one of its warehouses, however she is not . “No matter potential the Temu is promising can not make up for the losses I incurred promoting on this platform.”