Shein jumps on the third-party car with the Alibaba veteran

Shein, the ultra-fast fashion giant that has taken the world by storm, has hired another high-profile executive to help steer its ship. It recently brought in Jessica Liu, former co-president of Southeast Asian e-commerce giant Lazada, as vice president of global brand operations.

Liu will be responsible for “global brand partnerships,” according to Shein’s LinkedIn post. This is an interesting development as the platform has mainly focused on its private labels Shein, Romwe and Sheglam. Root Devices reached out to Shein for more details on his plans for global partnerships.

There are already signs that Shein is looking to evolve into an all-encompassing e-commerce platform with its horizontal expansion into home appliances, pet products and its most ambitious move from fashion — cosmetics under the Sheglam brand.

In 2022, Shein is expected to generate $30 billion in gross merchandise value, surpassing expectations, according to Chinese news site 36kr. In comparison, H&M sold SEK 199 billion ($19.3 billion) worth of products in 2021. But Shein’s low-margin, high-volume business is increasingly under threat from its Chinese peer Temu, Pinduodu’s overseas sibling. Within months, Temu bounced around the US app stores and sat at the top of all free apps for weeks.

Partnering with outside brands could help Shein expand across product categories more quickly, rather than relying on in-house development. Shein has become a master at managing a vast network of contract manufacturers, but he’s probably an outsider in the glossy world of brands. Shoppers can already find Aukey, the electronics giant hit hard by Amazon’s crackdown on Chinese sellers last year, on Shein.

Given her extensive brand experience, Liu seems to be the right candidate to build Shein’s third-party business. Her e-commerce career began at Amazon China nearly two decades ago before moving on to lead the fashion and luxury division of Tmall, Alibaba’s online department store for big brands. Her stint at Lazada, a member of Rocket Internet that was acquired by Alibaba, lasted less than two years.

Liu is just one of a handful of industry veterans recently hired by Shein to bolster its talent pool as the company looks for new areas of growth and faces pressure to address environmental, social and governance challenges or ESG. Donald Tang, a former Bear Sterns investment banker, has joined as executive vice president as the company prepares for the IPO process. Leonard Lin, who spent nearly a decade at Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek, is now Shein’s global head of government relations. In the US, Shein recently hired its first lobbyists and Disney veteran Adam Whinston as global head of ESG.

Leave a Comment