Fast-fashion giant Shein wants to sell skincare, toothpaste and toys, too

Fast-Fashion Giant Shein Wants To Sell Skincare, Toothpaste And Toys, Too
Known for cheap own-brand clothing and accessories, Shein is moving into other categories. Photo: Getty Images
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By Helen Reid

Online fast-fashion retailer Shein is courting brands like toothpaste conglomerate Colgate-Palmolive and toymaker Hasbro as it tries to sell more household names on its platform.

Known for cheap own-brand clothing and accessories, Shein is moving into other categories and has given brands and retailers access to its platform in nine European countries so far, having done so in the United States, Brazil, and Mexico last year.


The strategy, part of Shein's plan to build credibility and better compete with Amazon, is enabling the business to expand and develop new ways of selling goods ahead of a planned stock market listing later this year.

Shein presented its marketplace services at an event in Madrid last month alongside Colgate-Palmolive, Hasbro, Orangina maker Suntory Beverage & Food, and Spanish cosmetics brand Bella Aurora.

"Everybody associates Shein with fashion, but we are doing all verticals," Christina Fontana, senior director of brand operations for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Shein, told delegates at a conference in Paris on April 17th.

Seeing shoppers opening Shein and searching for other brands provided the impetus, Fontana said.


"Our consumers want brands, if that's what they're looking for, that's what we're going to give them."

Fontana, who previously worked for AliBaba, is one of several marketplace experts Shein has poached from the Chinese e-commerce giant and other firms.

That recruitment has helped fuel rapid expansion. Shein had an average 108 million monthly active users in European Union member states in the six months to January 31st.

But the company's growth has brought new complications, including new EU rules requiring it to police its platform for illegal or harmful products.


In Europe, Shein's marketplace is so far available in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

Whether the new marketplaces succeed and enable Shein to compete with Amazon and AliExpress will depend on what brands the company can attract, experts say.

"If Shein wants to compete as a trustworthy reputable marketplace platform, it really needs endorsement from well-known Western brands," said Xiaofeng Wang, e-commerce analyst at Forrester in Singapore.

Supercharge sales

In a Zoom webinar aimed at potential sellers in the United States on Thursday, Shein's head of seller marketing Claire Lin pitched an opportunity for brands to reach millions of shoppers and "supercharge" sales.


"Our shopping experience is very sticky, it's very much gamified," she said. "It's fun to shop on our site, so what we see is the minimum shopping time is around eight minutes, well above industry average."

Shein shoppers are Gen Z and millennial, and skew female - with around an 80-20 split of women versus men, Ms Lin said.

Home, electronics, and beauty & health are currently top-performing categories, she said, and the only category Shein does not offer is food and beverages.

The gross merchandise value (total value of products sold) in the home category tripled in 2023, while electronics grew by 2.5 times, and beauty & health grew by 2.1 times, according to a slide shown during the webinar.


Selling directly through a marketplace can provide a significant sales boost for brands. But before doing so, manufacturers typically seek assurances that the marketplace is a good fit for the audience they want to reach, and that they will have control over pricing and promotions.

Shein's platforms have attracted many third-party retailers.

Chloe Ferry attends the launch of the Shein pop-up store at Liverpool One on April 18th, 2024 in Liverpool, England. Photo: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images 

Products from beauty and skincare brands like Caudalie, CeraVe, La Roche-Posay, Shiseido, The Ordinary, Rimmel, and Weleda are currently being sold on Shein's platform in the US, Britain, Brazil, and Mexico via third-party retailers.

Jayn Sterland, UK & Ireland country manager at Weleda, said the Swiss cosmetics brand was not considering selling on Shein directly.

When assessing a marketplace, reputation, perception, and environmental impact are among the key factors the brand looks at, Sterland added, pointing to sustainability initiatives Weleda works on with Amazon, where it sells directly.

Colgate-Palmolive did not reply to a request for comment. A Hasbro spokesperson said the company participated in the Madrid event "to talk generally about the pros and cons of marketplaces".

A Suntory spokesperson said: "We don't sell any of our drinks on Shein's marketplace and we don't have any plans to, this was just an opportunity to share best practise."

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