Celine Lin, 42, an executive with a real estate company in Shanghai, receives invitations periodically from her friends on social media to join them in so-called team purchases on Pinduoduo (PDD), where groups of consumers band together so they can get a lower price for an item.
She made her first PDD purchase on Feb. 8 during the COVID-19 outbreak when she ordered a pack of four-ply surgical masks for 62.64 yuan (US$8.80), shipping included. When her family later moved to an apartment nearer her daughter’s school, Lin went back to the PDD app to buy kitchen accessories, and spent 110 yuan for a shelving rack.
“The shopping experience on Pinduoduo has exceeded my expectations, to be honest,” Lin said in an interview. “I’d expected the quality of the products to be poor because the prices are so low, but they are the same as what you’d buy on Taobao.”
PDD is the largest interactive e-commerce platform in China, with more than 600 million users across the country. The platform’s focus on social interaction and value-for-money products and services has resonated with consumers like Lin, who want to stretch their paychecks and experience more fun while shopping online.
Forty-five percent of PDD’s GMV last November was generated from users living in first and second tier cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, buying things like electronics, high-end cosmetics and imported fruits.
Having bought surgical masks and shelving units through PDD, Lin said she may buy fresh fruits next. Even though she had a negative experience buying fruits from another e-commerce platform, Lin said she is willing to give PDD a try because it is China’s largest agricultural e-commerce platform.
PDD recorded 136.4 billion yuan in agriculture GMV in 2019, a 109 percent increase from the year earlier. A total of 240 million annual active buyers purchased agricultural products on the platform in 2019, with over 70% of them repeat customers. In all, PDD had 586,000 active agricultural produce merchants on its platform, connecting to more than 12 million farmers.
“I’ve been buying more fresh food online after COVID-19,” said Lin, who has plans to send her daughter to study overseas. “Times are challenging so it’s always good to be frugal.”