Chinese E-commerce Social App Transforming Retail World
Colin Huang is a one of a rare group of China's entrepreneurs who started their careers in Silicon Valley and then came back to home to launch successful tech enterprises. Huang, who was engaged in search algorithms in e-commerce in Google, started his fourth and most promising company.
Pinduoduo (PDD) is a type of Facebook-Groupon blend that according to its creator can transform the e-commerce world. PDD has already raised over $100 million and passed $1.5 billion value line just two years after its creation.
PDD's idea is quite simple: usually, buyers know what they want to buy beforehand. A person goes to Amazon or Walmart, enters a keyword and choices the thing after scrolling several offers and reviews. Huang decided to give shoppers an opportunity to make purchases with friends not even leaving home. You can share ideas with friends, get their feedback, and make purchases together while getting discount for this.
Huang works on PDD wisely – he integrated it into a popular Chinese messenger called WeChat that is used in China for everything – from chatting with friends to make different electronic payments. Using his previous experience with game apps, Huang made PDD a fun app that is interesting to use.
And he seems to succeed in this. Demand for PDD has burst. Today PDD is the biggest private e-commerce company in China, sales volume of which is close to Vipshop Holdings Ltd., the third largest e-commerce after Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and JD.com Inc.
The idea of PDD came to Huang when he was scrolling though the websites of China’s two successful e-companies – Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Ltd., the popular games company and WeChat owner. These companies are both successful and popular, but neither of them thought of cooperation.
But Huang Did. Having experience in e-commerce and games, he was sure in a great perspective of bringing these two worlds together. He raised $8 million from investors in May 2015 and launched the company.
The most users use PDD app within WeChat. You just open WeChat and click on PDD icon in it. PDD's home screen has tabs for different categories of goods, such as clothes, food, etc. You can select a category and see a list of goods you can scroll through.
When you use the app you feel like playing a game – all bargains are bright and accompanied with images. You see the discounted prices under the images. If you buy, say a dress, alone, you pay $25.3 and if you buy 2 these dresses with a friend, you can save up a significant percent of the price. And since you are already on WeChat, you can invite your friends to join you right away.
PDD raised around $100 mln in 2016, the total amount of goods sold increased 40 times for this year.
PDD's founder sees it as a chance to make the retail experience richer and more interesting for both buyers and sellers. Customers learn what products they friends choose, they can create groups by interests. And producers can make their supply more customized by learning customers' behavior.
Despite PDD's success Huang is not planning to stop on it – he always wants to try new things. Huang says he has two idols: Lee Kuan Yew, the father of Singapore, and Benjamin Franklin. He is delighted with Lee for his intrinsic work in transforming a poor state into a modern highly-developed country. As for Franklin, he is amazed with the number of different things he made in his life – from business to science and politics. That is which Huang think to be a "genuine life".