E-commerce is nothing new. I think all of us have probably bought more online than ever this past year. But the company we’re featuring today, Pinduoduo, has taken this to a whole other level by gamifying e-commerce and making it a social experience. A big part of their strategy is selling agricultural products online. One of the biggest drivers changing the future of agriculture is consumer preferences, what they buy and how they buy it. Today we explore some pretty incredible insights into how this is changing in China.
We have on the show Xin Yi Lim, who is the executive director of Sustainability and Agricultural Impact at Pinduoduo. The platform, which has been described as “where Costco meets Disney”, started in 2015 and has grown to over 700 million active users in China. Before joining Pinduoduo in 2018, Xin Yi worked for SIngapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, both in its Singapore and New York offices as a technology and media analyst.
“Really what we are trying to provide is a way for producers or merchants to sell a larger volume of products in a shorter period of time. And in so doing, they can reap the benefits of economies of scale and how we do that is through this notion of a team purchase. So it starts off by the realization that for a lot of people, what you actually want to buy for things like say food or fresh produce can be influenced by those around you.” - Xin Yi Lim
She highlights that this opportunity gives producers “a lot more visibility” to their consumers by allowing customers to share their interests and purchases. Pinduoduo introduced team purchase to consumers with discounted products and has expanded to including a gaming component. Participants can play a game that results in free or discounted produce. This allows Pinduoduo to not only get more engagement from their users but also to see which participants are most influential to other users. In fact 90% of their revenue comes from merchant advertising targeting likely consumers.
“As we continue to grow, I think it's really also gone beyond just a team purchase. It's also encouraging more and more interactions by the users with the platform. So like what I mentioned earlier, that social graph of how you interact with your friends, how you influence them and they influence you. That helps us to refine our idea of what it is that you're interested in and give you the right recommendations.” - Xin Yi Lim
Pinduoduo has expanded beyond grocery items and also supplies agricultural inputs among other products. Xin Yi Lim comments that she has seen value and influence for agricultural producers from live streaming efforts by scientists, agronomists and other fellow producers suggesting the ongoing expansion of the scope of potential influence.
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