Is Shein Overshadowing Amazon?

Since the start of the pandemic, the fashion brand Shein has turned the world of e-commerce upside down. The fast fashion app recently reached 81 million downloads. In the United States, it is downloaded more than Amazon, which also offers clothing. In a study, Similarweb (a solution that enables website analytics) deciphers the success of the Chinese company and compares its performance with that of the Seattle company.

Shein, a rapid rise

Since its inception in 2008, Shein has grown exponentially. Launched as Sheinside and then rebranded in 2015, the Chinese brand has made a name for itself thanks to highly targeted advertising, fast international delivery and unbeatable prices. It is also distinguished by the amount of products on offer: it is estimated that between 5,000 and 10,000 new items are added to the site every day. For this it produces a number of articles itself, but also calls on other sellers. This is therefore comparable to the functioning of a marketplace. This allows it to mass-produce, much faster than its competitors H&M or Zara.

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To understand Shein’s success, you just need to take a look at social networks. Every day, many internet users post Instagram posts and TikTok videos to show off their valuable purchases made on the platform. Cheap, trendy and present on all social media, it was enough for Shein to entice consumers, especially Gen-Z. The research shows that the brand generated nearly 11% of its web traffic from social platforms. This is more than double that of the fashion and clothing sector (4.7%). On mobile, this figure rises to 20.9%.

As Similarweb explains, younger generations are appreciating the many benefits the brand offers: the more often you visit the site, the more rewards you get. It is even possible to enter contests to receive discounts. A gamification that encourages consumers to connect regularly.

The rise of e-commerce during the health crisis and its operation proved the Chinese brand right. In 2021, the platform posted revenue of $10 billion. Gradually, its place in the textile industry is gaining importance. With a market share of 28%, Shein is the largest fashion player in the United States (Earnest Research, June 2021). H&M owns 20% and Zara 11%.

Shein, new competitor for Amazon?

It must therefore be said that Shein outweighs the competition. However, a question arises: can it become a competitor to Amazon? The Seattle company also has a textile category. It is ahead of the fashion brand in web traffic with 89 million visits per month in the United States (August 2021). For its part, Shein registers 26 million.

Still, the Chinese company seems to be less affected by seasonal influences than Amazon. The number of visits is less variable and above all growing: the number of visitors has almost tripled since January 2020, from 10.6 million to 27.8 million. However, the US company enjoys greater brand awareness, receiving 58.8% of its traffic through direct channels, while Shein achieves 36.7%.

The brand’s investment in paid search continues to help improve this figure and drive growth. In 2021, Shein received 18.9% of its global desktop traffic through paid search. This is above the average for the fashion sector (11.7%) and than for Amazon (3.2%).

In terms of converted visits, the two companies are neck and neck. Amazon’s conversion rate (CVR) for fashion and apparel is 4.5% on desktop and mobile. Shein, who had a 1% CVR in 2019, is now catching up with the Seattle company. The percentage reached 5% in March 2021. This is explained by the fact that Shein’s model (cheap fashion, affordable clothes and fast delivery) facilitates the decision-making process when buying.

It must therefore be said that the Chinese company has quickly established itself in an already crowded market. Thanks to the diversity of its products and its market shares, Amazon is still holding up. It remains to be seen whether Shein will follow the US company’s path to diversify its offerings.

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