Temu Vs. Shein – What You Must Know Before You Buy

Temu and Shein have quickly become household names, with each app experiencing explosive growth and racking up millions of downloads in just a few months.

While Temu is relatively new to the market, Shein has been building its reputation for over a decade.

But how do these companies fare against other Chinese competitors like AliExpress? And more importantly, which offers a better shopping experience: Temu or Shein?

In this article, I compare Temu vs Shein using the following criteria:

  • Business Model: How does each company make money?
  • Popularity: Which platform is more popular?
  • Website Interface: Which website offers a more user-friendly experience?
  • Product Category: Which company has more product categories?
  • Product Quality: Which platform has better products?
  • Product Price: Which platform is cheaper?
  • Shipping times: Who delivers orders faster?
  • Discounts: Which site provides more discounts?
  • Payment Options: Which platform offers more payment options?
  • Refunds & Returns: Which platform has a better refunds and returns policy?
  • Support: Which platform offers more reliable customer service?

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What Is Temu?

Temu logo

Temu, pronounced “tee-moo,” is an online marketplace that sells a wide range of everyday items direct from Chinese manufacturers.

Temu’s headquarters are in Boston, Massachusetts, but the company is based in China and is owned by a Chinese company, Pinduoduo.

Since their launch in September 2022, Temu has become popular among consumers of all ages thanks to a massive 500 million dollar advertising campaign which included commercials during the Super Bowl.

Products ship directly from China, which helps Chinese vendors save on the cost of storing inventory in the US. This means lower prices for shoppers.

What Is Shein?

Shein logo

Shein, pronounced “she-in,” is a Singapore-based fast-fashion retailer that offers over 600,000 products in 21 categories.

Although its headquarters are in Singapore, Shein is owned by a Chinese parent company, Nanjing Lingtian Information Technology.

Shein was launched as “SheInside” in 2008 and initially focused on women’s clothing. Since then, Shein has broadened its catalog to include accessories, home decor, office supplies, and more, though women’s clothing remains its flagship category.

Shein excels in making high-fashion styles accessible by offering similar looks to those seen on celebrities at a much lower cost.

Unlike Temu, which primarily targets the US market, Shein began selling products in China and only started selling in the US in 2017.

Temu Vs Shein: Pros And Cons

clipboard with a pros and cons sheet

Temu Pros

  • Flexible return policy: You can return eligible items to Temu within 90 days of purchase.
  • Free shipping: Temu offers free shipping on nearly all items, saving you even more money.
  • Extensive catalog: Temu has over a million products in categories such as home decor, luggage, pets, and clothing.

Temu Cons

  • Slow refunds: Refunds from Temu are initiated only after the return is received, which can take a week to a month, plus another 7 to 30 days for the refund process.
  • Discount coupons: There are many complaints about Temu providing heavy discounts and coupons that often expire or don’t work.

Shein Pros

  • Inexpensive fashion: Shein dominates the online fast fashion space, offering most of its trendy products below $20.
  • In-house production: Shein produces its own goods, which gives it greater control over product quality.
  • Free shipping: Shein offers free shipping on orders above $29.

Shein Cons

  • Support issues: Many customers find Shein’s customer service unhelpful or slow to respond, and they don’t offer phone support.
  • Damaged item window: You must report any damaged items to Shein within 24 hours of receipt.

Temu Vs Shein: How Are Their Business Models Different?

Business ModelTemu is an online marketplace, whereas Shein is an online retailer that manufactures most of its own products.

When you make a purchase on Temu, a third-party seller prepares the order, and Temu delivers it to your address.

As of 2024, Temu has expanded its marketplace to include sellers beyond China and now allows sellers from the US and Europe as well.

When you buy from Shein, Shein handles the shipping and handling because they produce and stock the items themselves.

However, Shein introduced Shein Marketplace in 2023, allowing third party sellers to list their products on Shein’s platform. But as of 2024, it’s available only to sellers in the US, Brazil, Mexico, and China.

While Shein mainly sells their own clothing products, you will find third-party sellers in non-fashion categories like home decor and accessories.

Winner: Draw

Temu Vs Shein: Which Marketplace Is More Popular?

person reading an online review on a mobile device

When it comes to downloads from all app stores, Temu has over 250 million, and Shein has more than 500 million. However, Temu has four times as many active US users as Shein.

Here’s a closer look at their performance metrics:

Active Shoppers80 million active users in the US17.3 million are based in the US
Gross Merchandise Volume$16 billion$40 billion
TrustPilot Rating3.4 on 54 on 5
Sitejabber Rating2.4 on 51.8 on 5
Better Business Bureau C+F

Overall, Shein has more global users, but Temu has higher ratings and is more popular in the US.

Winner: Draw

Temu Vs Shein: Which Company Has A Better Shopping Experience?

Homepage of Temu.com

Temu has a classic marketplace look, whereas Shein offers a more modern and stylish user interface.

Both websites are easy to navigate and have well-organized listings. Product catalog pages have filters that help you find the exact item you’re after

Temu’s homepage has sections dedicated to top deals, discounts, and featured products. Shein, however, highlights its latest arrivals, trending items, recommended styles, and special deals.

When you hover over any of Temu’s products, you can click “Quick look” to get a quick overview of the product, while Shein provides an “Add to Cart” option.

Shein homepage

Overall, both platforms deliver a personalized shopping experience, thanks to their curated product recommendations and intuitive interfaces.

Winner: Draw

Temu Vs Shein: Which Company Offers More Product Variety?

Shein categories

Temu has a broad selection of products across 29 categories, whereas Shein only offers 21 categories.

Both platforms offer many different products, including clothing, electronics, beauty and health items, and home goods.

However, Temu is a general marketplace with a diverse selection of everyday items.

Shein primarily focuses on women’s wear, children’s clothing, shoes, and men’s fashion.

Winner: Temu

Temu Vs Shein: Which Company Offers Better Product Quality?

Shein customer ratings on a women's product

Both Temu and Shein source their products from China, offering them at significant discounts often at the expense of quality.

Feedback for both companies has been mixed.

Some customers appreciate the adequate quality for the price, while others have less positive experiences, mostly criticizing product consistency and customer service.

The inconsistency in Temu’s product quality is due to its reliance on third-party sellers who each have varying levels of quality control.

Shein faces similar quality concerns. Many of their products, especially clothing, are made from polyester and other low-cost materials.

Despite the poor craftsmanship, many Shein customers find the quality to be fair for the price paid, though their clothing can not withstand many uses or washes.

Winner: Draw

Temu Vs Shein: Which Company Offers Lower Prices?

A woman removing dollar bills from her pocket

Temu and Shein are known for selling Chinese products at exceptionally cheap prices.

Both platforms, along with their sellers, frequently provide discounts on almost all products, pushing prices down even further.

For clothing, Shein tends to be the more affordable option. Most fashion items on Shein are priced between $5 to $20, whereas similar products on Temu typically cost $10 to $25.

But if you’re interested in other categories like home decor, accessories, and toys, Temu is the better choice.

Moreover, Temu is known for its aggressive discounting, offering up to 90% off on some items, compared to Shein’s discounts, which can reach up to 50%.

Winner: Draw

Temu Vs Shein: How Long Does It Take Orders To Ship?

USPS van in a suburb

Both Temu and Shein ship products from China, which impacts delivery times. Here’s how their shipping compares:

Temu offers two shipping methods:

  • Standard shipping: Free for all orders, with delivery times ranging from 6 to 20 days.
  • Express shipping: Costs $12.90 per order, but is free on orders over $129. Delivery within 4 to 11 days.

If your order arrives late, Temu offers a $5 credit as compensation.

Shein offers two shipping methods:

  • Standard shipping: Costs $3.99 per order, free on orders over $29. Around 75% of orders arrive within 10 days.
  • Express shipping: Costs $12.90 per order, but is free for orders over $129. 80% of packages arrive in less than 7 days.

Both have issues with their delivery since products are shipped from China. Common customer complaints include late delivery or missing packages.

The delivery times for both can be a hit or a miss, so expect your orders to take at least one to two weeks.

Winner: Draw

Temu Vs Shein: Which Company Offers Better Discounts?

Red color "Sale" labels placed on a black table

Both Temu and Shein aggressively use promotions and discounts to attract customers.

Temu draws customers with discounts of up to 90%, along with extra markdowns and flash sales for even lower prices.

Temu often gives out free coupons and cashback rewards, and sometimes gives away free products and gift cards.

However, many customers have complained about Temu’s coupon codes and discounts being expired or not working.

Shein provides daily promotions on its website, with additional discounts for first-time shoppers. The platform capitalizes on retail holidays and pop-up sales featuring sitewide promo codes to increase orders.

Influencer marketing campaigns are a big part of Shein’s strategy, where they offer referral codes to provide special discounts.

Winner: Shein

Temu Vs. Shein: What Are The Different Payment Options?

Wallet with visa card, debit card, and other credit cards.

Temu and Shein both accept major credit cards, AfterPay, PayPal, and Klarna.

The only difference is Temu accepts Apple Pay and Google Pay, while Shein supports Affirm, Venmo, and ZiP.

Winner: Draw

Temu Vs Shein: Which Company Has A Better Refund & Return Policy?

Delivery man in a brown uniform delivering packages

Temu has a more generous and flexible return policy than Shein, which enforces stricter return conditions and a shorter return window.

Here’s how returns work on Temu:

  • You can return items up to 90 days from the date of purchase.
  • Items must be returned within 14 days after initiating a return request to be eligible for a refund.
  • First returns on every order within 90 days are free of shipping charges.
  • For second and subsequent returns from the same order, a $7.99 shipping fee applies, deducted from your refund.
  • Late deliveries are compensated with a $5 credit for standard shipping or $13 for express shipping as a gesture of goodwill.

Here’s how returns work on Shein:

  • You can return items up to 45 days from the date of purchase.
  • Shein provides free return shipping for the first return package per order.
  • Additional returns from the same order will have a $7.99 shipping fee, which is deducted from the refund.
  • Damaged items must be reported to Shein customer service within 24 hours.

In short, Temu offers a more extended and forgiving return period than competitors like Shein, AliExpress, and Wish.

Winner: Temu

Temu Vs Shein: Which Company Offers Better Support?

Man with headphones facing computer screen

Temu offers marginally better customer support than Shein.

You can reach out to Temu’s customer service through live chat or social media, and they’re available 24/7 to assist you.

Temu also lets you directly contact third-party sellers if you have specific questions or issues.

However the quality of Temu’s customer service can be hit or miss because it is based in China.

However, Temu acknowledges late orders and offers between $5 to $13 as compensation.

Shein, in contrast, doesn’t make it easy to get in touch for order-related problems. Without a phone number on their site, your only option is to use email.

Shein has a 24/7 live chat feature, but the responses are completely automated and lack the personalized assistance of a human support agent.

In addition, it’s impossible to find contact information for third-party sellers on Shein, as sellers don’t have a dedicated shop page with their details.

Overall, Temu puts more effort into solving queries and keeping its customers happy. Shein, on the other hand, could improve by using fewer chatbots and making it easier to talk to real people and sellers.

Winner: Temu

Temu Vs Shein: Which Is Better Overall?

Temu vs Shein

In the Temu vs Shein battle, Temu offers a slightly better shopping experience than Shein.

Temu is better because they offer better deals, have a more customer-friendly return policy, and provide better customer service than Shein.

If you’re looking for a variety of items at low prices, Temu is a solid choice. Meanwhile, Shein is the place to go for trendy, affordable clothing.

Besides Temu and Shein, there are other sites like Romwe and AliExpress that you should also explore.

If you’re a reseller looking for more options to source products, check out my article, “Best China Wholesale Websites To Import Direct From Chinese Factories.

You’ll learn what to expect when importing directly from Chinese factories and the steps you need to take to avoid being ripped off.

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About Steve Chou

Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com

His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times,  Entrepreneur and MSNBC.  

He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.

In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts

To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.  

Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.