When SHEIN – a Chinese cross-border ecommerce app focused on fashion—overtook Amazon as the most downloaded shopping app in the US in May 2021, most people over the age of 30 hadn’t even heard of it.

Earlier this year, SHEIN was valued at $100 billion in a funding round, making it the 3rd most valued unicorn in the world, just after ByteDance and SpaceX. Every couple of weeks, there is a rumour saying that it is going for IPO soon.

So what underpins SHEIN’s meteoric rise to success – we think of 2 reasons.

First, the company’s (fairly accentuated) leadership, people, organization, and strategy. This is covered in Jianggan and Professor Guoli Chen’s upcoming book “Seeing the Unseen: behind Chinese tech giants’ global venturing”. These factors led the company to focus on the right things at the right time: acquisition, (notably) supply chain, and user stickiness. You can find more details in our recently published report: Who is SHEIN:

Second, it is due to the broader trend of growing cross-border ecommerce from China. Chinese cross border sellers were estimated to have sold between $160-200 billion worth of goods on Amazon alone in 2021. The competition amongst these cross border sellers, brands, and independent sites/apps like SHEIN has led to a lot of innovation.

To navigate these macro trends from China and this mysterious Nanjing-born company, we will be hosting an online sharing session on Friday, 02 September

Jianggan Li, CEO of Momentum Works and Ian Goh, Managing Partner of 01VC, a Shanghai-based VC fund which has been investing in cross-border companies for more than 5 years, will take us through the following burning questions:

  1. Market logic and evolution of SHEIN: How did SHEIN go from ‘growing too slowly’ (in the eyes of all VCs) to a $100 billion valuation? Why did many cross-border competitors, who seemed to fare better than SHEIN, eventually collapse? 
  2. History and trends in cross-border ecommerce beyond fast fashion: How has cross-border ecommerce from China evolved in recent years? 
  3. Outlook for the future: What can we expect from the cross-border ecommerce sector over the next few years?
  4. What can you do to take advantage of these learnings?  

We will also take the time to answer any questions you might have. 

Momentum Academy –  01VC’s: SHEIN and Cross border trends event is happening on 2 September, 3-4pm SGT. The event is complimentary and you can register here

If you have any questions about SHEIN that you would like us to answer in the talk, please email them to me at [email protected] 

See you there!

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].