Pinduoduo, the latest challenger to China’s e-commerce dominators Alibaba and JD.com, wants to bring affordable, imported items to shoppers in China’s smaller cities and rural areas.
The three-year-old Tencent-backed e-commerce upstart is recruiting importers to set up shop on its marketplace. The business is known for offering cheap, sometimes counterfeit goods that initially appealed to users from the less prosperous parts of China but have gradually garnered more price-sensitive urbanites. Its rise is closely linked to Tencent’s popular WeChat messenger, which lets it toy with viral marketing schemes like group deals, a level of access that’s unavailable to Tencent rival Alibaba. Furthermore, the app is focused on direct sales between manufacturers and consumers to help keep costs down.
Pinduoduo’s social group-buying model works so well that it is rapidly closing in on its larger rivals. It claimed 232 million monthly active users by the end of September. That represents only a fraction of Alibaba’s 700 million user base but the newcomer is growing at over 200 per cent year-over-year. Pinduoduo already eclipsed JD.com in terms of market penetration according to data analytics company Jiguang. Over the past year, Pinduoduo was installed on 27.4 per cent of all mobile devices in China, placing it ahead of JD.com which stood at 23.9 per cent and behind Alibaba’s Taobao at 52.5 per cent.