● Pinduoduo aims to build up agri-focused logistics infrastructure platform that will reduce waste, lower costs and speed up delivery of agricultural products
● Grocery goal part of broader plan to strengthen food supply chain resilience, promote digital inclusion in rural communities
Pinduoduo’s reported fourth-quarter revenue topped analyst estimates, as China’s largest agriculture platform pledged to make basic necessities more affordable and set a goal to become the world’s top grocer.
Revenue in the quarter ended Dec.31, 2020, rose 146 % from a year earlier to RMB 26,547.7 million ($4,068.6billion), beating consensus analyst estimates. The number of annual active buyers increased 57 million to reach 788.4 million for the trailing 12 months. Monthly active users, a measure of user engagement, reached 719.9 million.
“We hope that in the next stage, Pinduoduo will become the world’s largest agriculture and grocery platform, and make groceries sourced around the world affordable and available to our users,” said Chen Lei, Chairman and CEO of Pinduoduo.
To achieve this goal, the company will build an agriculture-focused logistics infrastructure platform that will reduce waste, lower costs and speed up the delivery of agricultural products, Chen said. Calling it a “work in progress,” the infrastructure will require “a few more years of investment before it can realize its full potential and achieve efficiency,” he said.
Pinduoduo will continue to invest in agriculture and food technology to contribute to China’s agricultural sector development and increase the resilience of the food-supply chain, Chen said. The company will look into global investment opportunities in alternative proteins, food safety and precision farming.
In giving a recap of 2020, Chen noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has put Pinduoduo through its “toughest test” since its founding six years ago. The pandemic also accelerated the “blending” of the online and offline worlds, making a distinction between the two spheres increasingly irrelevant.
This seamless merging of the two spaces has been powered by the mobile internet and has thrown up new opportunities. Pinduoduo launched Duo Duo Grocery in August 2020 after observing that consumers are increasingly turning to online platforms to purchase food. Duo Duo Grocery allows consumers to order their groceries through the (online) Pinduoduo app the day before and pick up the orders from selected (offline) collection points, connecting local farmers with local consumers and giving new impetus to the farm-to-table movement.
Last year, consumers bought more than RMB 270 billion worth of agriculture-related products on Pinduoduo, a doubling in value from 2019 and cementing the company’s position as the largest agriculture platform in China.
At the same time, the hardships and dislocations brought on by Covid-19 have underscored the importance of doing more to promote digital inclusion of rural communities and disadvantaged groups, Chen said. The company was among the leading technology companies commended for making outstanding contributions to the fight against rural poverty.
“Pinduoduo started off by selling fresh produce online. It was a conscious decision because we found them to be a necessity, and optimizing their production, distribution and consumption would bring the greatest widespread benefit,” Chen said. “We have never lost sight of this beginning, and agriculture has consistently been a strategic priority for us.”
The company is creating a more level playing field for businesses of all sizes by not charging additional sales commissions, while its personalized recommendation emphasizes individual products. This includes the agricultural sector, where margins are thinner, he said.
“Going forward, Pinduoduo, as a pioneer in this space, will build on the lessons we have learned and double down to improve our offering to our users,” Chen said. “We will always be on the lookout for new ways to create more value for them.”