Israelis flock to Chinese e-commerce giant Temu, but buyer beware

Budget-friendly online marketplace saw surge in popularity with 4.76 million visits in January, surpassing competitors like SHEIN and closely rivaling Ali Express; Analysts caution that the app collects and sells user data, allowing Temu to offer products at remarkably low prices

Orna Yefet, Calcalist|
Temu, a Chinese e-commerce platform, has gained significant popularity among Israelis, experiencing a surge in monthly visits that have surpassed those of its popular competitor, SHEIN. According to data from SimilarWeb, the number of Israelis visiting Temu reached 275,000 in September 2023. This number doubled to 510,000 in October, but dropped to 420,000 in November due to the escalation of the Gaza war.
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However, in December, there was a remarkable jump to 3.47 million Israeli visits to the site. This positive trend continued into 2024, with a 37% increase in January, reaching 4.76 million visits. It's important to note that these figures represent the number of visits to the site, and each visit is counted separately, even if a user visits multiple times.
The increase in Israeli visits to Temu can be attributed primarily to Google searches and paid promotions of the platform. In December, the top search terms on Google that led Israeli users to Temu were related to winter products, such as electric blankets and scarves.
SimilarWeb data reveals that, from July 2023 to January 2024, Temu surpassed SHEIN in terms of Israeli visits. During this period, Temu averaged 1.22 million visits from Israel, while SHEIN had 1.13 million visits. Despite this, AliExpress remains the leading e-commerce site among Israelis, with 8.5 million visits during the same period. Nonetheless, Temu is the fastest-growing platform and almost caught up to AliExpress in terms of Israeli visits resulting from Google promotions, particularly in December.
Temu, originally founded in the United States in July 2022, is now operated by the Chinese company PDD Holdings. The platform offers a wide range of products in various categories at competitive prices, positioning itself as a competitor to AliExpress and Amazon. According to "Financial Times," research firm Bernstein estimates that Temu invested $3 billion in marketing and advertising in the United States last year, with the aim of gaining market share from its major competitors, especially Amazon. Notably, $1.2 billion was allocated to Facebook advertisements in 2023.
Temu's reported user base saw a significant surge, reaching 70 million users in January 2024 compared to 13 million the previous year. However, when it comes to online sales market share in the United States, Temu's presence remains modest at just 1%, while the e-commerce giant Amazon dominates with a commanding 40% share.
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Huge bargains on ANC earbuds on Temu
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Amid Temu's surging popularity, analysts in the United States are sounding the alarm, labeling it as a risky application that incorporates programs designed to collect and monetize users' personal data. This, according to these analysts, is the underlying reason why Temu is willing to sell products on its platform at a loss.
In recent weeks, a class-action lawsuit has been filed against Temu in the United States, alleging that the platform unlawfully gathers sensitive user information including credit card details, bank information, national identification numbers and email addresses. Customers have voiced complaints regarding instances of credit card fraud, and reports indicate Temu frequently offers numerous counterfeit products, particularly within the electronics category. Additionally, assertions have been made regarding the subpar quality of products, resulting in a lack of repeat purchases from many customers.
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