Last week, a message has been circulating around China’s cross border ecosystem: “Is Temu entering Southeast Asia?

The rumour of Temu’s global ambitions has been brewing for a couple of months – and Temu itself has expanded from just US to 17 countries by last week, topping the charts in most of them.

Since then, Temu has added Ireland to make the country count 18. It is also rumoured to be launching in Japan this week.

The specific message about its potential Southeast Asia foray comes from a survey Temu has sent out to its sellers.

Entitled “Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea cross border ecommerce platform seller study“, the survey asks Temu sellers which platforms they are already using in Southeast Asia (see the screenshot below), as well as key products, daily orders and GMV.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the platforms they mentioned include:

  • Southeast Asia: Lazada, Shopee, TikTok, Tokopedia (the 4 leading platforms covered in our Ecommerce in Southeast Asia 2023 report)
  • Japan: Rakuten
  • Korea: Lotte, Gmarket, Unit808
  • Others

Pinduoduo, Temu’s Chinese ecommerce business, has been known for excelling in competitive intelligence gathering. We are sure that if they are serious about Southeast Asia market, this survey might not be the only tool they use.

As to whether Temu is serious about Southeast Asia, as explained earlier in our podcast, the market is obviously not as attractive as US, Europe and other developed markets. The consumption power is nowhere as high, there are complex regulatory environments to navigate, and Chinese-backed competitors Shopee and Lazada already dominate.

However, a few factors are at play here:

  1. In Southeast Asia, there are markets like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand which still account for dozens of millions of middle class shoppers;
  2. Cross border fulfilment infrastructure into the region is mature and at scale;
  3. Shopee has demonstrated that an ecommerce platform in the region can be possible;
  4. TikTok has just made pledges to invest “billions” in ecommerce in the region

A combination of feasibility and competitive dynamics might push Temu to launch into Southeast Asia earlier than expected.

We shall see.

More insights

Get a copy of Momentum Works Ecommerce in Southeast Asia 2023, released last week, where we discussed about the dynamics of ecommerce in the region, strategies and performances of leading platforms as well as ecosystem players such as brands, as well as how Temu’s potential entry can impact the whole ecosystem.

You can also find out more about Temu, its background, strategy and competitive advantages in Momentum Works Who is Temu report.

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].