The Rise of Temu and Online Knitting
Some notes & quotes from recent reads:
A chicken-shaped lamp. A toilet paper holder in the shape of a smiling velociraptor. An apron that catches beard hair during shaving. The list of unusual products goes on.
Among the more everyday items are cleaning products, smartwatches, novelty T-shirts, knock-off sneakers and barbecue tools, but the common thread across all of them is that everything is incredibly, mindbogglingly cheap.
Its appeal is clear. In the midst of rising inflation around the world, Temu has attracted customers through its seemingly limitless range and incredibly low prices. Men’s running sneakers cost lest than £5, an avocado slicer is advertised for £0.89, a well-reviewed outdoor tent sells for under £2. The company earned itself the nickname “the price butcher” during Black Friday sales last year, according to the China Project – and the total value of products sold on the site has gone from US$3m in September 2022, to US$400m in April.
But it has also drawn controversy, and rising consumer complaints. Temu is engaged in a US-based legal battle with rival Shein. The two companies have sued each other in US courts over alleged anti-trust activity. Shein accused Temu of misleading consumers to think they were the same brand, then Temu accused Shein using “exclusionary practises” including making its suppliers sign exclusivity contracts which Temu said hindered its commercial growth. The two companies have rejected the allegations against them. Temu has also been accused of circumventing US anti-forced labour sanctions, and forcing suppliers into difficult conditions.
There’s also widespread scepticism over how long it can sustain its business model.
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