What is Happening?

Shein is a Chinese online fast fashion retailer.

Founded in 2008 in China, the company has exploded into the world of fast fashion, with Google data showing it's surpassed other brands like H&M, Zara and ASOS in terms of search interest. It's also held the second spot in the iOS App Store Shopping category for much of this year, even overtaking Amazon briefly.

Shein is now the largest cross-border fast fashion e-commerce company in China and makes traditional fast fashion players look slow. While fast fashion used to mean that designs from fashion shows and runways could be delivered to stores in weeks, Shein takes this a step further.

If a top or garment design goes viral on TikTok, Shein can ramp up production almost instantly thanks to its tight control of production, and relatively small initial batches of items.

💰 Pricing:
Although such fast fashion brands like Zara are not expensive – a small dress may cost more than $30 dollars, while a similar dress on Shein costs half that price. The styles of Shein’s clothes are more diverse, and the colours and patterns are more varied.

🏆 Shein is the #1 brand for TikTok teens:
Shopping purchases are driven by a constant stream of coupons and discount codes. TikTok users appreciate the large selection of inclusive sizing, ranging from XS to 4XL. On TikTok, Shein has created armies of fashion bloggers supporting the brand with haul videos of their purchases under the hashtag Shein. Influencers get free merchandise every month for their posts on TikTok.

😠 Shein is also facing criticism from consumers:
Lots of customers have warned of poor quality. For example, in Trust Pilot, 43% of people rate a brand as “bad”. In addition, there are many YouTube videos showing Shein’s clothes come in the wrong size or fit differently as seen from the photos. On social media, consumers brought product quality concerns with clothes falling apart and received with odd smells.

What Does it Mean?

Lowest prices and the latest styles sound amazing. And it is. But, how exactly does the company achieve this?

The sheer scale and speed of Shein's operations are quite hard to get your ahead around. Its website has a feature that lets you filter which products arrived on the site by which day (there are no physical Shein stores). Shein reportedly racked up more than $10bn of sales last year, but otherwise relatively little is known about the company, its operations, its owners or how sustainable its production is. Its supply chain is impressive, but many question its transparency and sustainability.

Shein also beats its competitors with fast delivery and cheap prices. The company is becoming more and more vertically integrated with leading in-house developments. Average delivery time is 6-8 days. Processing usually takes 1-3 business days. It is also possible to choose premium delivery and receive the goods in 2-4 days.

👗 The online apparel market is changing rapidly, and strategies must be constantly updated to beat competitors. Shein’s success demonstrates that its marketing strategy based on a sincere understanding of the new generation works well but there remains large questions about the companies labour practices.

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