ByteDance’s Womenswear Retail Platform If Yooou Faces Crisis

In late September, Beijing-based tech giant ByteDance announced a new online retail platform called “If Yooou,” engaged mainly in the sale of women’s clothing and intended to serve major European markets such as the UK, France, Italy and Spain. This is ByteDance’s third attempt to capture the fast fashion market. However, according to a report by Chinese media outlet Huxiu on November 1, recent data regarding If Yooou compiled by internet analytics provider SimilarWeb shows that it has experienced a “[web] traffic crisis.”

SEE ALSO: ByteDance Launches Women’s Fashion Retail Platform “If Yooou”

According to SimilarWeb, the website visits data of If Yooou has been available since June of this year. From that time until October 28, the retail platform’s total monthly number of website visits was about 351,000, 436,000, 177,000, 45,000 and 5,007 respectively. Except for the increase in July, its web traffic dropped sharply in the following months.

Besides, although it is already winter, If Yooou’s homepage still displays summer dresses. Meanwhile, the platform’s hugely successful competitor Shein has already begun to display winter clothes and Black Friday-related content.

(Source: If Yooou)

In November of last year, ByteDance launched a fast fashion platform named Dmonstudio, but it was shut down in February this year after just three months of operation. At about the same time, Fanno, an e-commerce platform, officially started alpha testing, but as early as May of this year, it was reported that the project team was dissolved in April and the project was canceled by ByteDance.

However, compared with Dmonstudio, the prices of If Yooou’s products are lower. For instance, the prices of clothing items are mostly between 5 and 30 pounds ($5.75 – $34.51), and the prices of accessories are basically no higher than 20 pounds, which is more similar to Shein. In addition, If Yooou’s major market is Europe, which is thought to be geared at avoiding high competition in the US market. However, sources with If Yooou’s data show that in September and October, traffic from the US and China became the main force, while traffic from European countries declined rapidly.

“The company only attaches importance to traffic, while ignoring the supply chain, so these projects can only be short-lived,” said Liu Mingguang, a former supply chain consultant at Shein and the founder of Guangzhou Jianpie Supply Chain Technology Co., Ltd., when talking about the cross-border clothing e-commerce project launched by ByteDance. In his view, the internet industry places too much emphasis on the decisive factor of traffic, while the supply chain is more critical for the clothing industry.

Clothing production is very tedious and complicated. If a company wants to control the clothing supply chain, labor costs, material resources, and time, the effort is too high. However, in the eyes of senior industry insiders, it is difficult to rely solely on traffic for a long time without controlling supply chains. ByteDance’s cross-border fast fashion e-commerce business seems to be in a dilemma.

In addition, although ByteDance has invested more in talent, internal competition is quite intense. Huxiu learned that as early as the preparation of Dmonstudio, the company had poached about 100 employees from Shein, and insiders familiar with ByteDance told Huxiu that its entire cross-border business team was very competitive and had a heavy workload. It was common to get off work after 10:00 pm on weekdays. Many in the industry believe that such a strategy is not really beneficial to the development of a company.