In this episode of The Negotiation, we speak with XinYi Lim, Senior Director of Corporate Development at Pinduoduo. She is responsible for Pinduoduo’s international corporate strategy efforts. As most of you know the growth story of Pinduoduo has been described as “miraculous.” It’s the fastest-growing e-commerce scale-up in China, cracking the RMB one trillion (about $141 billion) in transactions milestone in less than half the time it took Alibaba and JD. That, alongside a few other numbers, tells the story of an irresistible force shaking up China’s e-commerce landscape. If you took that story to the bank and picked up PDD shares at IPO, you’d be up 150% right now. Needless to say, this was all a story we were very excited to dig into. We talk to XinYi about interactive eCommerce and PDD’s backstory and differentiating factors and discuss observable trends in consumer behaviour. We also talk about which of those shifting behavioural-trends will be temporary or permanent and why. We also discuss Pinduoduo’s long-term growth strategy in the coming months and into next year, and their plans for international expansion. Enjoy!
Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Xin Yi Lim, Senior Director of Corporate Development at Pinduoduo and former Technology Analyst for GIC in Singapore and New York.
Xin Yi discusses interactive eCommerce, a relatively new term that aims to reproduce the experience of offline shopping by “trying to understand human needs through the community that surrounds each and every one of us.” Pinduoduo has created a team purchase model on a mobile-first, mobile-only platform where, if you buy something with a friend or anybody else in your social network, you enjoy lower prices.
According to Xin Yi, traditional eCommerce is “a targeted, solitary shopping behavior that is also ultimately efficiency-driven.” When we shop offline (i.e. at a mall), we typically have conversations with our companions when considering a purchase. This type of interaction and feedback is essentially absent when we shop online on a conventional eCommerce platform—no algorithm can match this element of human touch.
Pinduoduo differentiates itself from other eCommerce platforms with their fundamental understanding that “people’s needs can be very dynamic, and they can be influenced by those around them.” The company’s goal is to create true value for money, both for consumers and merchants, by creating a platform that mimics the offline experience and quite literally takes the term “sharing economy” to a new level.
Using data gathered from Pinduoduo’s interactive eCommerce platform, certain trends emerged. There is now a tendency towards “rational consumption”, which means that consumers are ultimately looking for value-for-money goods. Xin Yi discusses the trend known as C2M or Consumer to Manufacturer. China, known for decades as having an export-driven economy, is now beginning to focus on manufacturing products that appeal to an increasingly savvy domestic market. Pinduoduo allows its brands to collect anonymous consumer feedback, and from this create better, more marketable products that expand existing markets, and even create new markets.
COVID-19 has caused the sale of agricultural goods to skyrocket. These goods have always been available through Chinese eCommerce platforms, but they were “rediscovered” through necessity, by consumers. To further encourage and comfort online shoppers of agricultural goods, Pinduoduo began to conduct livestreams with farmers and other stakeholders demonstrating the quality of their products. Other newly popular verticals include fitness and culinary brands.
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