A New Dawn: How 3 Eastern Shopping Apps Have Eclipsed Amazon

Shopping App

Ask anyone what the top global shopping app is and they’d say ‘Amazon, d’uh!’, right? Well, prior to 2021, they’d have been right (D’uh-huh!).

The story’s a tad different based on new 2021 figures, though, especially in Asia. Three apps have come to prominence, shunting Amazon down to 4th in the global take-up of shopping apps.

In the U.S., Amazon remains in the top spot. But even there, downloads of its shopping app have dropped 2.4% year-on-year. So, what is this new dawn, and should Amazon sellers, and Amazon aggregators, be worried?

Shopee, Shein and Meesho: are they a threat to Amazon in the West?

I know what you’re thinking. How do I know? Because I thought it, too…
…until I looked at the figures.

You’re thinking, ‘Yeah, but that’s, like India and China. That’s not going to affect my business!’

Hold that thought, will you? Here’s why one should never assume:

Shopee, Singapore (launched 2015)

Shopee and Shein appealed to consumers more than other shopping apps in 2021 by some margin. More on Shein in a second; let’s look at Shopee, first.

203 million buyers downloaded Shopee in 2021, an annual rise of 46%. Like Amazon, it’s home to mom-and-pop stores, SMEs and larger interests. It also sells clothing, white goods and electronics. More recently, it’s moved into food and drink, including delivery/on demand.

So, yes: it’s a direct competitor to Amazon, but that’s not the big story.

Leveraging its digital gaming roots (yes, really) it appeals to current and future generations on a different level. Through gamification, customers can earn rewards and discounts to claim against purchases on its platform. Clever, right?

And it works! South-East Asia and Brazil are already in Shopee’s thrall. Poland, India and Argentina are its next targets, so expect growth to continue.

Shein, China (launched 2008)

Here’s an odd one for you. Rather than try to cover all bases, Shein concentrates on the disposable fashion market. And despite being a Chinese interest, it doesn’t sell to its domestic market. Told you it was different, right?

What Shein does really well is connect the Chinese workforce to the western world. Gen-Z can’t get enough of it, their influencers often defining new trends overnight.

Recognising that gap in the market earned them a 70% rise in global downloads (190 million) in 2021. It’s a prominent platform in over 200 countries, and doesn’t look like slowing any time soon.

Meesho, India (launched 2015)

The rise in take up of Meesho in 2021 can only be described in one word: astronomical! Downloads of the shopping app rose an incredible 744% to 153 million. And most of that was in its native India.

Meesho’s deployed another innovative strategy. First, it allows manufacturers and resellers to sell through social channels. Instagram, Facebook Marketplace and WhatsApp are the most popular.

Even with just those, customer insight data and reach are enviable. But the other reason it’s popular with sellers is that there’s no set up fee. Anyone can create an account and start selling through their social reach immediately.

The potential once it goes global? Mind: Blown!

OK, what about the Amazon shopping app, then?

Overall, Amazon’s global reach over the same period dropped by 12%. Of the top ten global shopping app downloads in 2021, only Wish and Pinduoduo performed worse.

Don’t get me wrong, Amazon isn’t going away. But here’s the thing: in 2020, only 50% of its income came from its online stores. (figures for 2021 not yet available).

AWS, Prime/subscriptions, third party vendors and physical stores made up the other half. So, does Amazon now need to innovate its online shopping experience to compete? I’d say: definitely!

What form that will take, and what it might mean for Amazon sellers one can only guess. What we know for sure is that 2021 saw it surrender its #1 spot for the first time in years.

Is it the start of a trend? Does Amazon marketplace have the flexibility to adapt? And are its vendors, especially Amazon FBA sellers, willing to change with it?

Only you can answer that, in time. If you’re even remotely interested in getting out while the going’s good, here’s our step-by-step guide to selling your Amazon business. Good luck!

Further reading:

This website was created by ex-Amazon sellers, Martin Smith and Richard Turnbull.

To learn about our story, our private label FBA brands, and our first-hand experience selling to Amazon aggregators, click here.

You may also wish to check out our 2022 Definitive Guide to Amazon Aggregators.

Written for FBA sellers, this simple, easy to follow document takes less than 5 minutes to read and represents the culmination of over 100 hours of research into the Amazon aggregator space. To access the guide today, click this link.


Step 1

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Step 2

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Amazon Aggregators

Step 3

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