How to shop safe on Temu, the hot shopping app that could be a fad


If you’re a sentient being in the United States, your eyeballs have in all probability been blasted with commercials for Temu.

The shopping app, a chaotic on-line flea market of Willy Wonka’s fever desires, is closing in on eBay as the third hottest shopping web site in the United States behind Amazon and Walmart, in accordance to information offered to analysis agency eMarketer by Comscore.

Temu grew well-liked no less than partly by changing into certainly one of the largest consumers of adverts on Facebook apps and Google. Temu has additionally purchased expensive TV commercials throughout the previous two Super Bowl video games, together with a number of adverts this yr with an earworm jingle.

The large questions on Temu: Can a firm promote its means into your coronary heart? And can America’s love for Temu final?

Quick solutions: Yes and perhaps no.

“I think it’s a fad,” mentioned Sucharita Kodali, a retail and e-commerce principal analyst with the analysis agency Forrester.

We have a behavior of falling arduous for shopping novelties — whether or not it’s a costume that sells like hot desserts out of nowhere or retailers corresponding to Zara, Poshmark or Wish. But a lot of our shopping infatuations are transient.

There might be not a lot hurt in the event you’re gaga for Temu and it turns into a has-been. Just be cautious not to stake an excessive amount of of your cash or your livelihood on a hot shopping app that may not final.

And hold studying for recommendation if you need to shop safely on Temu. Like many spots for purchasing on-line, you don’t have a lot details about the product sellers on Temu. That heightens the threat that purchases could be disappointing or hurt you.

What is our take care of shopping fads?

E-commerce crushes that cool off are a persistent phenomenon.

We had been infatuated in the early 2010s with websites corresponding to Groupon that featured short-lived reductions. Those websites have largely pale. Then we fell arduous for month-to-month deliveries of merchandise in a field corresponding to clothes, pet merchandise or razors. The mania died down, too.

Then Wish turned the hot bargain-basement shopping app.

Wish is fairly related to Temu. Both promote a seize bag of usually low-cost and infrequently random stuff instantly from distributors that are largely in China.

(Temu is predicated in Boston however owned by a Chinese firm, PDD. The firm additionally operates a well-liked e-commerce app in China known as Pinduoduo.)

Wish, like Temu, for a whereas blitzed Facebook and Google with adverts pitching oddball merchandise corresponding to meat socks. The technique labored on you, till it didn’t. Wish has lapsed into irrelevance.

In 2023, Temu spent more cash promoting on-line in the United States than all however three different giant corporations: Amazon, shopper merchandise big Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo, in accordance to estimates by Sensor Tower and Pathmatics that analysis agency eMarketer shared with me.

(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Temu’s promoting blitz could work. TikTok was amongst the largest advertisers on-line for a whereas, too. And TikTok has remained well-liked.

Temu additionally has caught on not solely due to its heavy promoting.

The app additionally sells every little thing you may think, together with backyard gnomes and pretend eyelashes. Its casino-style advertising contains restricted time gross sales that create a sense of urgency. If you rating a deal, Temu desires to unfold the information to your mates.

Juozas Kaziukenas, founding father of the e-commerce analysis agency Marketplace Pulse, says past Temu’s advertising savvy, it has benefits that Wish didn’t.

Temu can harness PDD’s observe report in wrangling giant numbers of Chinese distributors and making certain orders arrive effectively at your door, he mentioned.

“Fads come and go, but the desire for value does not,” Temu said. The company said it believes its expertise will “bring a new level of efficiency and cost savings.”

How to shop safely on Temu

Now that many on-line outlets, together with Amazon, Walmart, TikTok Shop, Temu and Shein, promote you merchandise that come instantly from factories or distributors that you don’t know something about, high quality management is trickier than it’s with the restricted choices in bodily shops.

That places the onus on you to strive to keep away from shopping for merchandise that are poorly made.

Read my colleague Heather Kelly’s recommendation on avoiding scams or different undesirable outcomes while you purchase on-line. Most of this recommendation applies to all on-line shopping.

When you’re shopping for on Temu, it’s your decision to see if the similar product or vendor is on Amazon, Etsy or Shopify. You are attempting to get a sense if persons are complaining about being misled or ripped off. Not all merchandise you discover on Temu will be offered different locations.

One reader instructed me final yr that she had a ruler useful when she shopped from Temu. The actual dimension of merchandise can be deceptive in pictures, she mentioned, however product dimensions might be included in Temu’s on-line listings.

If you peek at these, you possibly can keep away from shopping for a canine mattress that seems to be thimble-size.

If you’re shopping for a low cost ceiling-fan duster on Temu and it seems to be junk, it’s not a large deal. But do be cautious with or keep away from shopping for merchandise on Temu that go into your physique or on your pores and skin.

Without figuring out a lot about the reliability of the sellers, merchandise corresponding to faux eyelashes, nutritional vitamins or pores and skin cream could harm you.

Temu mentioned that it has particular high quality management to vet merchandise on your physique. Temu additionally mentioned folks ought to analysis elements and seek the advice of critiques earlier than shopping for merchandise.

Also on your security, be cautious of shopping for merchandise from Temu if they’re toys or different merchandise meant for youngsters, in the event that they’re powered by a rechargeable battery, or in the event that they’re protecting gear like a motorbike helmet.

Temu’s talent is making cut price looking really feel like a sugar-high treasure hunt. So have enjoyable on the market. Just be cautious. And don’t get in so deep with Temu that you’ll be left in the lurch if it winds up being a fad.

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