Shein showed the world how a combination of social media marketing, data analytics, and China’s good oil supply chain has created a Fast fashion giant worth 100 billion USD.
Its success naturally spawned imitators and challengers. Among the fastest-growing is Cider, which, like Shein, relies on keen Chinese clothing manufacturers to sell affordable, trendy products to customers around the world. .
Cider has achieved about 7.4 million installs worldwide to date, according to data provided by market intelligence firm Sensor Tower. That number was shortened by Shein, has achieved over 170 million downloads worldwide in 2021 and surpass Amazon was the top shopping app in the US last year.
But keep in mind that Cider was only founded in 2020 while Shein started over a decade ago. And Cider broke into the crowded US market, accounting for 43% of its total downloads. In the first half of 2022, it recorded 2 million downloads in the US, marking a staggering 1,686% growth over the same period last year.
Cider’s other major markets are the UK, Germany, France, Canada and South Korea, Sensor Tower said. App analytics firm Data.ai says the app is currently among the top 10 shopping apps on the French and Korean App Stores.
Shein has become too big to be easily toppled, so startups like Cider are instead targeting the giant’s untapped niches. A tour around Shein today shows the company is growing coming after Amazon and not bound by its origins in fashion. From pet toys to air purifiers, Shein is constantly expanding its products.
Meanwhile, cider is more concentrated. It clearly wants to be a shopping place for Generation Z consumers with its array of Y2K looks coats of crops and brightly colored tees.
The startup’s traction isn’t quite a shock at all given the list of resourceful investors it has attracted: a16z, of which the individual is partner Connie Chan explain how the market works according to Cider’s needs; DST Global, ByteDance’s original investor; IDG Capital, one of the most famous VC firms in China; and MSA capitalbet on global startups inspired by China’s tech business models.
As of last September, Cider had raised $130 million in funding and surpassed the $1 billion valuation threshold.
The company is vague about its facilities, saying only that it “has an office in Los Angeles” and employs between 200 and 500 people, according to its website. It wouldn’t be surprising if the company one day announced that its headquarters are located outside of China. Over the past few months, Shein, the company that has for years stuck to the story that its birth was inspired by its founder’s trip to LA, has move its important assets to Singapore.
As China tightens its grip on how tech companies move data across borders and Chinese companies become increasingly caught up in geopolitical complications, Chinese-founded startups will seek to position themselves as “global” companies, whether that is done through branding or actual corporate structures.