Pinduoduo CEO on the road ahead for China e-commerce after coronavirus pandemic

Pinduoduo CEO on the road ahead for China e-commerce after coronavirus pandemic

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
Pinduoduo Content Team
July 19, 2020

· PDD to study how to use technology to improve agriculture in China, CEO says

· PDD CEO Chen Lei took on the role on July 1 in round of management changes

Pinduoduo (PDD) will strive to bring the benefits of the digital economy to more people while staying relevant to changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Chief Executive Officer Chen Lei.

Agriculture is one area where the interactive e-commerce pioneer will study how to make better use of technology to transform the industry and improve its efficiency, said Chen, who was Chief Technology Officer before he took over as CEO of PDD on July 1.

“We hope that through building up PDD, we can offer even more experiences that can bring the best of the digital economy to everyone,” Chen said in his first remarks to media since becoming CEO. “We hope that this can help provide equal opportunities to both our users and sellers.”

PDD is the fastest-growing e-commerce platform in China, attracting more than 600 million users in less than five years with its interactive team purchases and social commerce model. The company, which started out selling fruits and fresh produce, is also the largest online marketplace for agricultural products in the country.

Founded by ex-Google engineer Colin Huang and his team in 2015, Huang stepped down as CEO on July 1 while remaining Chairman of the board of directors. Huang said in a letter to staff that he plans to spend more time with the board to formulate mid- to long-term strategy and further develop the corporate structure to strengthen and promote the company’s culture.

Chen, a trained data scientist and prolific publisher on data mining, attributed PDD’s growth to it providing consumers with interactive and value-for-money user experience made possible by the mobile internet.

At the time of PDD’s founding, online user behavior was undergoing a “paradigm shift” from the desktop internet to the mobile internet because of the smartphone, Chen said. The desktop era produced search companies like Amazon and Google that emphasized efficiency because people would allocate time during their day to browse the internet.

The popularity of the smartphone and mobile internet “freed people from that paradigm,” Chen said, but consumers were “still stuck with the utility-driven e-commerce model born of the desktop era” even though mobile payments and logistics were well-established.

Podcast: American youths want e-commerce to be as social as that in China

Rising living standards also meant that more and more consumers were looking to meet not just their basic needs but were also seeking new enjoyable experiences both online and offline, Chen said.

“We didn’t see the virtual as separate from the physical world, and we felt that the virtual world could also offer fun and engaging experiences,” he said.

On the road ahead, Chen said that PDD will keep its signature fun and engaging, interactive experience, while value for money would remain the cornerstone of the company.

Watch this video explainer to learn how the PDD app works

Still, with the coronavirus pandemic fundamentally changing consumer behavior, PDD is studying how it can develop a business that is suited to the new era, Chen said.

“In the future, there won’t be a distinction between online and offline as no business can do without technology. So how do we become a pioneer and leader in this new world is something that we ponder a lot on,” he said.