Temu to open its platform to third-party sellers in the United States

February 29, 2024 by
Frank Calviño

Chinese retail portal Temu is preparing to open its platform to third-party sellers in the U.S. This is an attempt to compete with local platforms but also, ultimately, to benefit from the positive impact of U.S. merchants. 

This strategy also heralds what it plans to do in Europe, where Temu rolled out last spring. The opening of the Pinduoduo-owned portal to U.S. sellers was announced by the Wall Street Journal, which notes that this approach will further increase competition between platforms wishing to attract as many merchants as possible.

Temu will challenge Amazon, Walmart and Target

Beyond Amazon or retailers such as Walmart, Target or Macy's, it is portals such as Etsy or Wayfair that could be affected by this change.

Even before welcoming local sellers, last year Temu had a turnover of more than $9 billion in the US market, where the Chinese portal also stood out by shining in some of the most coveted Superbowl advertising space.

Temu's main goal is to attract U.S. retailers who, in terms of both image and pricing, are not necessarily looking to see their products surrounded by very low-cost Asian products.

Fighting for the U.S. market 

Accommodating U.S. sellers could also be a way for Temu to retain its U.S. audience. A KeyBanc survey recently showed that 30% of customers who visited the portal in September returned the following month. The figure dropped to 14% in December, showing disinterest 16 months after the portal arrived in the United States.

This market has so far served as a laboratory for the strategies subsequently deployed in Europe, another Western market where Shein has entered the top 10 of cross-border sales portals operating in the European Union in just a few months. 

The Chinese portal thus ranks ninth in the annual ranking prepared by Cross-Border Europe. It remains to be seen if and when Temu also intends to accommodate European sellers.

Let’s remember that Temu continues to be criticized in the United States for the massive flow of parcels entering its territory. According to Cargo Facts Consulting, 4,000 tons of Temu parcels are shipped to the U.S. market every day, contributing to saturate the airfreight supply over the Pacific. 

Last June, a Congressional report estimated that Shein and Temu together accounted for 600,000 packages entering the U.S. market daily, taking advantage of a customs tariff niche.

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