Temu, the new Wish?

Temu is an e-commerce platform that offers various products at meager prices. At least to those that are advertised. If you start searching in their catalog, you will soon realize that its prices are not as low for all its products as you might believe. Many products, especially those of well-known brands (that are not the majority), have the same price tag as other popular e-commerce platforms such as Aliexpress, etc. Temu, for the record, is a Chinese-based digital marketplace owned by PDD Holdings, headquartered in Shanghai. Its Parental Company is registered in the Cayman Islands and also owns Pinduoduo, another popular e-commerce platform in China.

So, what makes Temu such a success? And how did it manage to top the hit spot in both Google Play and AppleStore? Well, do you remember the once-popular Wish.com? Temu follows an almost identical strategy. Aggressive marketing strategies, extensive ad campaigns on all popular platforms, low prices on advertised products, and promising more than it offers. It achieves such low prices because it is not a physical store but a service that the sellers can sell directly to its customers without any other intermediates. Except for Temu itself, of course. And the low prices are applied only to lesser-known manufacturers. Mainly unknown Chinese vendors. It sounds like Wish.com. But why should someone care? And how is that different than other e-commerce platform strategies?

Well, it is not about strategy but quality (including the service at its core) and the security/privacy concerns regarding the app. All well-regarded manufacturers are bound to follow rules, laws, certifications, guidelines, and standards that apply to their products. There are some typical rules to follow, at least in theory. This is not always the case with unknown vendors. Some might not follow safety regulations or standards, resulting in dangerous products. There are reports that Temu-shipped products are not CE-certified. This doesn’t mean these products are risky, but they don’t comply with or are tested to comply with the strict European guidelines. It is something to be concerned about.

There are also reports of damaged products due to inadequate packaging. And last but not least, products that took too long or did not arrive. However, this is not the majority, and other platforms might occasionally face the same issues. What you should be most careful of is scams. Not necessarily hacking or suspicious activity scams -that you should always be cautious of-but falsely presented or tricky products.

For example, you see what looks like an electronic screwdriver for a meager price of $2. You should be cautious because the actual selling product might be just a part of this product, not the machine as a whole. These are grey zones because the seller might intentionally try to trick you into believing that the product is the screwdriver, but the selling product is just a part of it. This might be unethical, but it is not an illegal action. It is a scam paradox—Wish. com, at its best. Temu offers many products at low prices, but there are many things to be aware of, except all those above. Many offers are expiring or are for first-time users, illegitimate copies, lousy quality, $10-15 minimum orders, etc. But this is not the complete list. As I stated, there are legitimate security and privacy concerns.

Pinduoduo, the Chinese brother of Temu, came to be known to contain malware in unofficial apks outside Google Play. Google Play suspended it, and users were warned to uninstall it. This resulted even in the U.S. Government’s intervention. PDD Holdings officially denied these claims, but some actions seemed to be taken to ensure the best for the platform. Pinduoduo is far more aggressive than Temu about its privileges. That makes the Temu app less risky, according to analysts. There are two ways to order from Temu—the Site version and the app, as in almost all popular platforms.

Sites have their disadvantages, and the same rule applies to the apps. But apps are better optimized for smart devices and tailored to their needs. That makes an app more user-friendly but more “aggressive” regarding how data are handled and collected. It raises security and privacy concerns. You should note that almost everything has vulnerabilities and flaws, and apps are no exception. Temu app has its policy regarding data collection.

Although the app doesn’t require unnecessary permissions, that doesn’t mean it is entirely safe. And it is well-known that China is not the most privacy-oriented destination, among others. There have been numerous reports about suspicious marketing Servers, Networks, etc., in the past about many apps. Temu app might not be bulletproof, so you ought to be cautious. Moreover, using and uninstalling the app doesn’t mean there was no data collection. You only stopped further data collection, at least from legitimate apps. And preserved data are not deleted immediately. Temu app is “building” a user profile. It collects your IP, ID, info, etc., for its purposes. Although there are legitimate reasons for these, such as offers, ads, etc., privacy concerns exist. It is inevitable, but doesn’t mean that there are evil purposes. Still, you should be aware of it.

There are things you can do to eliminate data exposure and are applied to almost every app, including Temu, as well:

  • Inactivate the access to your location
  • Do not use the single sign-on feature
  • Do not give access to your contacts, camera, photos, and mic if it is not necessary to
  • Inactivate your advertising ID

This way, you are less exposed to unnecessary data collection. Of course, you can still not install the app at all if you don’t need to or use the Site version -that also has its flaws. Temu might offer street prices and exciting products, but it has its caveats, as should be expected. I hope this article helps you to understand what you should be aware of and that not everything is always as it seems. In the case of Temu, my advice is not to shop like a billionaire but to shop like you should. That rule applies to every e-commerce platform, and Temu is no exception. Stay safe, and stay in the know.

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