Chinese cross-border e-commerce platform Shein surpassed Amazon in app downloads on US mobile platforms for the first time in the second quarter of 2022, with 6.8 million downloads during the period, according to an August 7 Sensor Tower report

Why it matters: While it still lags largely behind Amazon in monthly active users, Shein has gained popularity in the US with ultra-cheap pricing and a vast selection of fast fashion. 

  • Shein has disrupted the market by offering about 600,000 products for sale at any given time, with pricing on average being around $20. The company employs an extremely short turn-around time and flexible production plan, typically only needing a week to deliver a product from design to shipping. It only asks its suppliers to increase production if the item sells well. 

Details: Shein saw a 13% quarter-over-quarter growth in downloads while Amazon had a 7% fall compared to the first quarter this year, according to Sensor Tower. 

  • Amazon’s average monthly active users (MAUs) were triple that of Shein in the second quarter of 2022, yet Shein is narrowing the gap in the US. In the second quarter of 2020, Amazon had nearly ten times more MAUs than Shein’s; for the same period last year, Amazon had four times the number of MAUs. 
  • Shein has seen consistent quarterly growth in the last three years regarding downloads. Its average number of active installs in the US had more than quadrupled last quarter compared to the second quarter of 2019. 
  • Shein tends to see a spike in app downloads in the second quarter as more users shop during summer sales. 

Context: This is the third time that Shein has surpassed Amazon’s installations worldwide, but a first for the US market. Founded in 2008 in the eastern city of Nanjing, Shein began as a cross-border retail company and has slowly risen to the top of the field by focusing solely on overseas markets and offering extremely low-priced fast-fashion items.

  • The US is Shein’s biggest market by app installation. There were a little more than 74 million downloads in the US in the second quarter of 2022, meaning US consumers accounted for 14% of Shein’s worldwide downloads, the Sensor Tower report said. Brazil is Shein’s second biggest market and has seen the most installs of the e-commerce app from a single country every quarter since the last quarter of 2020.

READ MORE: How Shein became China’s ‘TikTok for e-commerce’

Ward Zhou is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. He covers stories about industry of digital content, hardware, and anything geek. Reach him via ward.zhou[a] or Twitter @zhounanyu.