Shein in recent years has been one of the most popular ecommerce websites and apps in America.
But what exactly is Shein and How is it different than other Chinese apps and ecommerce companies like Temu? And more importantly, if you're a shopper, what makes Shein good and what makes Shein bad?
Related Reading: How Is Temu Different Than Wish and Amazon?
What Is Shein?
As previously mentioned, Shein (pronounced she-in) is basically a Chinese version of H&M. In other words, it's a direct-to-consumer fashion brand focusing on affordability. It was launched in 2008 in China by Chinese entrepreneur Chris Xu and was introduced in the United States in 2014. Currently, it's no. 2 on App Store for shopping (right after another Chinese brand, TEMU).
What Does Shein Sell?
Shein sells mostly clothing products. It's what is known as “fast fashion” meaning they frequently release new designs and collections based on the latest fashion trends. Other examples of popular fast fashion brands would be H&M and Zara.
In addition to clothing, Shein has been increasingly selling other beauty accessories including makeup.
How Is Shein Different from Temu and Amazon?
The biggest difference between Shein and Temu and Amazon is the fact that Shein is not a marketplace. In other words, unlike Amazon or eBay, where multiple sellers can list and sell their products, Shein designs and manufactures its own clothing and accessories
Let's examine how Shein is different from Temu and Amazon
|Free Shipping?||Yes over $29||Yes over $20 (currently promotional)||Yes over $35 (or free with Prime)|
|Primary Products||Mostly Clothes||Everything (mostly <$50)||Everything|
|Shipping Location||Mostly China||Mostly China||Mostly USA|
|Percentage Chinese Vendors||95%+||95%+||60%+|
|Shipping Time||~7 to 20 business days+||~7 to 20 business days+||~1 to 5 business days|
|Who Ships?||Shein||Seller||Mostly fulfilled by Amazon (FBA)|
|Returns Window||90 days||90 days||30 days|
|Free Returns?||Yes – free return shipping||Yes – free return shipping||No – buyer pays for return shipping|
|Headquarters||USA (San Francisco)||China||USA (Seattle)|
|Year Entered U.S.||2014||2022||1994|
|Marketplace or Retailer?||Retailer||Marketplace||Marketplace & Retailer|
Why Is Shipping from Shein So Slow?
One of the common complaints about Shein is the slow shipping. Whereas most consumers in America have come accustomed to 2- to 3-day shipping times, Shein shipping times are typically 10 to 14 days.
The reason for the slow shipping time is the fact that nearly all items are shipped from warehouses in China, unlike other retailers like H&M or Zara who ship domestically from the United States/Canada.
Are Shein Products Ethically Sourced?
One of the main controversies around Shein has been around its sourcing standards. Specifically, Shein has faced allegations of poor working conditions including low wages, poor working conditions, and exploitation of workers.
More controversy ensued when the New York Times reported in July 2023 that Shein was flying US influencers to China to try and paint a positive image of the company.
It should be pointed out that many of Shein's largest competitors have faced similar accusations around poor labor standards as well.
With Shein hoping to go public in the United States in the near future, you're likely to hear more about Shein in the near future. Overall, the deals are typically very good on Shein if you're willing to sacrifice fast shipping times and, unfortunately, potentially suspect labor practices.
Have you used Shein in the past? If so, what has your experience been with it?