When Cecilia Zhang first placed her order for a Damascus Chef kitchen knife on Pinduoduo (PDD) from her new apartment in Shanghai, she was a bit skeptical.
She had never used PDD before, but her interest was piqued when friends in China highly recommended the e-commerce platform that has more than 600 million users.
A graduate student at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Cecilia had returned home to Shanghai in January so she could attend classes remotely after the coronavirus outbreak forced universities to move online.
Like her peers, Zhang, 27, spends her free time doing online shopping, and soon found PDD to be a perfect solution as she began a new life.
“I just got married, and I am in this WeChat group of young married housewives who discover good deals on PDD and share with each other,” Zhang said. “PDD encourages customers to form groups to shop at lower prices.”
Zhang is part of PDD’s growing consumer base in China’s first- and second-tier cities who are grateful to find reasonably priced items on the world’s largest social commerce platform, at a time when frugal consumerism is rising because of the uncertain economic outlook. A recent study also showed that young women are likely to shop together online, underscoring the importance of social commerce as interactive shopping becomes the new buzzword.
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When Zhang placed her order in January for the knife that cost her 80 yuan ($11.28), she said she was surprised at how efficient the process was and how soon the product was delivered.
Enthused by her new “super handy” knife, Zhang began to actively look for more items on PDD, such as furniture and housewares to decorate her new apartment.
“A common misconception people have about PDD is that its products are poor in quality, but personally I have never had a bad experience,” Zhang said. “I think their products are of much better quality than the same-priced ones on other e-commerce platforms.”
Zhang said her shopping strategy involves studying a product extensively on Taobao, the e-commerce website owned by Alibaba, then looking for a more value-for-money version on PDD.
Zhang’s knife now has other companions from PDD in the kitchen, the latest being a 2-in-1 steam and grill oven purchased for 280 yuan ($40), about 15% less than Taobao’s price. She has also started exploring grocery items and apparel now on PDD, enjoying the experience of buying quality products while also being able to save money, she said.
“If you save 30 yuan every day, you’d save 200 every week and over 800 after a month. It’s not little,” Zhang said.