Temu and Shein: A Deep Dive Into Their Differences

by Maria Williams

Temu has been making headlines in the dynamic world of e-commerce, with CNN calling the Boston-based shopping app “an online superstore for virtually everything.” Temu gained substantial attention after making its advertising debut during the Super Bowl with an attention-grabbing slogan “Shop Like a Billionaire.” Its top ranking in the US iOS app store, along with its popularity in other regions, also reaffirmed its widespread appeal among consumers.

Temu’s meteoric rise and widespread popularity have drawn comparisons to Shein, another popular shopping site that many consumers are familiar with. Shein has burst into public consciousness in recent years, particularly among Gen Z, by offering trendy clothing at incredibly affordable prices. Their fashionable garments have gained extensive exposure through TikTok and Instagram videos, featuring Gen Z influencers showcasing their shopping hauls. However, our detailed comparison reveals many differences between Temu and Shein.

In this article, we embark on an in-depth exploration and meticulous comparison of these two influential shopping apps. Additionally, we provide an extensive introduction to Temu, the up-and-comer that may still be unfamiliar to some. With this knowledge, you can make more informed decisions during your next shopping spree.

What is Temu?
Temu, established in September 2022 and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, is an expansive digital marketplace that offers an extensive range of products across more than 250 categories. Temu has said that its primary goal is to foster a safe and inclusive environment and enable you to shop with confidence without compromising on quality, enjoying the best online prices available.

Temu, which means “Team Up, Price Down,” garnered a lot of attention in the US after its first Super Bowl advertisement in February, attracting new customers and further establishing its presence in the e-commerce industry.

Is Temu owned by Shein?
No, Temu and Shein are two unrelated platforms. There is no ownership or affiliation between these two shopping sites. Temu is not owned by Shein, and vice versa. Despite some of their superficial similarities, Temu and Shein are distinct and separate organizations that are not related to each other at all.

Is Temu the same as Shein?
No, Temu is not the same as Shein. While both provide highly affordable products, they differ significantly and fundamentally in terms of their merchandise offerings, business models, values, and customer service.

When it comes to product selection, Temu offers a carefully curated assortment of items at wholesale-like prices from merchants and brands worldwide. In contrast to Shein’s focus on fashion-related products, Temu provides a wider range of everyday goods across various categories. They have over 200 categories including but not limited to: apparel, footwear, toys and games, pet supplies, jewelry and accessories.

Temu resembles an online megastore offering a broader range of products compared to Shein, which is more a fashion-focused retailer. While both Shein and Temu provide affordable clothing options, Temu differentiates by offering access to an extensive array of products across multiple categories. In essence, Temu allows customers to find virtually any product they can imagine. Shein, on the other hand, is a more dedicated fast fashion shopping destination and it is one of the top choices when it comes to apparel.

Do Shein and Temu share the same business model?
No, Shein and Temu have vastly different business models.

Shein owns its inventory and has adopted a 1P model. As the company expanded, they developed a supply chain with thousands of manufacturing partners. Although Shein doesn’t own these factories, their high order volume makes them the primary customer. To maintain low prices, Shein sells directly to consumers in small batches, often resulting in product shortages.

In contrast, Temu has adopted an online marketplace model, or 3P model, that connects consumers with small businesses. These merchants, who have experience supplying top brands, now sell directly to consumers through Temu. Beyond being a sales platform, Temu implements the “Next-Gen Manufacturing” model to help suppliers enhance product development. By sharing consumer insights, Temu assists suppliers in meeting demand and creating popular products at affordable prices.

Is Temu also a fast fashion company?
Temu is not a fast-fashion company, because unlike fast-fashion companies, Temu is not involved in production or manufacturing. Instead, it functions as an online marketplace that hosts independent third-party sellers offering a diverse selection of products across over 200 categories.

Is Temu better than Shein or Shein better than Temu?
Well, it is hard to give a straightforward yes-or-no answer as different people may give you different views. After we tried out both platforms for a few orders, there are many reasons to love them both. What is unique more about Temu is that on top of their broad merchandise offering and affordable prices, Temu offers a very comprehensive customer protection program. For example, Temu goes the extra mile by offering a $5 credit if the delivery exceeds the estimated timeframe. It also offers free shipping and free returns, which are another plus points for consumers.

Does Temu actually give free stuff?
Another question we get asked a lot is specifically for Temu – does it really give away free items? The short answer is: Yes, Temu has various in-app games, campaigns and promotions that legitimately offer free stuff. This is probably another reason why Temu has attracted so many buyers since its launch in 2022.

Numerous users have shared their success stories of receiving complimentary items and rewards through the platform. It’s possible that you may know someone who has already benefited from Temu’s generosity! There are various ways for users to obtain free rewards or items. However, it’s important to note that you will only receive these rewards if you meet the specific criteria outlined in the promotion. So please be sure to carefully review the terms and conditions to see if you are eligible for the fantastic complimentary gifts.

In summary, Temu is a new choice when it comes to shopping online. Both Temu and Shein are reputable companies that offer competitively priced clothing, with Temu also offering many other products beyond apparel. When deciding between Temu and Shein, you may consider the distinctions we have discussed to guide your choice. We suggest you take a look at both platforms before placing the order and make informed shopping decisions.

Presented by: Retail Insight







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Yvonne June 11, 2023 - 11:48 PM

Temu won’t take any of my credit cards. They was only 2 kinds of pymt.

Cindy Blanks June 12, 2023 - 12:51 PM

I’m very happy with temu I order once a month and yes I have got some stuff I weren’t happy with I told temu they make it right but I mostly love their products.

Lavonne johnson June 27, 2023 - 5:49 PM

Can I order items by paying with a money order as I have trouble with credit card I would order more if I could

Lavonne johnson June 27, 2023 - 5:53 PM

I would also like atelophone number where I could talk to a life person

Christina July 1, 2023 - 10:24 PM

I ordered a cute pair of casual shoes (size 7.5) from Temu. When they arrived they were a huge size like a size 12. They did not have the size of the shoe anywhere. Not on the box or in the shoe. There was glue sticking out from one of shoes. I will never order from Temu. They are not trustworthy. You do not get what you ordered.

MG August 2, 2023 - 10:30 AM

I returned 11 items to Temu on 7/27 the package arrived 7/28 then they claimed they did not received it so they won’t give me any refunds (over$100)! Also, one item I ordered it looked exactly like a copy straight from Zara, so I had to return it. I have no problem with Shein at all and they are fast for sure, love them!

MG September 6, 2023 - 5:26 PM

Update on my post from 8/2/2023, I finally got all the refunds, but it’s still painful to go through live chats and many follow up emails.

Maria September 9, 2023 - 2:04 AM

I have ordered from Temu for several months now and have been very impressed with their delivery process, always on time, and daily step by step info on where they are. The materials I ordered are of good quality at low prices and no delivery costs. I have found similar goods on other websites at a much greater expense than Temu. I am very pleased with their products and service.

TK Blackburn September 23, 2023 - 12:31 PM

Just returned $500 of badly sized & weirdly made swimwear to Shein. Due to a hurricane, I fell out of the 35-day window for returns, but they worked me to make the return. I appreciate that, but they can’t have tiny skinny people make plus-sized clothes if they don’t understand sizing & the physics of what happens when a 2mm cord cuts into the flesh of a plus-size person where there should be a 1″ elastic band.
USPS lady told me about Temu, so I’ll check it out.


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