The keys to SHEIN's success in the western market

SHEIN  has been on everyone's lips since it was revealed that its value surpassed ZARA and H&M combined. We could say that it is the first western market outsider brand that manages to conquer the great masses of consumers both in Asia and on our side of the planet. 

For this reason, it is inevitable to take a look at its origins, business model and digital marketing strategy to understand the reasons for its success and more importantly, learn from it. 

Many things can be questioned about SHEIN, but of course it is undeniable that they have known how to connect and impact the public and a mass of consumers that many other retail brands would dream of.

SHEIN and its beginning

The company was born in 2008, we could say that it was a great period for a new brand to be born, since the digital era was rapidly and successfully growing and was giving them the opportunity to establish themselves by fully leaning on the online market and no need to open physical stores in strategic spots as their competitors where doing from their origins. 

By the time that SHEIN was born, consumers were already feeling quite comfy about online shopping and taking advantage of the new technologies to create new consuming behaviour. Lacking a network of physical branches to maintain and take care of, the brand focused on offering an increasingly better shopping experience when buying in its ecommerce and worked on building brand loyalty. 

SHEIN developed from the beginning a full digital business model, driving all their cost centres into logist, warehousing, and mobile-based digital presence, instead of opening shops. 

Under this business model, the brand ran no risk since its main target is precisely generations that were born with technology integrated into their lives, as is the case of Millennials and GenZ. 

Thus, SHEIN’s business model was totally adapted to the needs and expectations of their customers, growing and improving in connection to their online behaviour

Finally, we can say that SHEIN found within the e-commerce business model the best way to offer an immense variety of items, in a wide size range (from XS up to 5XL) and, at very low cost.  

A brand that has evolved in connection with the new technologies

If we can say that SHEIN was born in a modern and favourable era where you didn’t need shops everywhere anymore, it is also true that they have known very well how to implement the new technologies to empower their growth. 

While the modernisation of SHEIN’s western competitors occurs slowly, the Chinese brand has implemented high technology and machine learning to understand their customers’ preferences and predict the style, colours and trends that they would want to purchase in the short term. 

With technology at its core, SHEIN has been able to capture fashion trends even faster and ensure them within their collections. 

By getting to know their customers’ preferences, the brand exposes within their e-commerce a design of which a limited number of pieces is manufactured and depending on its demand its manufacture is increased or discontinued. Thanks to a fully digital business model, they can afford such a manufacturing strategy since there is no worry about filling up stores whatsoever.  

The Digital Marketing Strategy behind SHEIN

One of the key secrets behind the success of SHEIN is the super user-friendly App that they have developed. They know very well that their target audience was practically born with smartphones as part of their everyday life, and it was crucial to reach them from such devices. SHEIN’s app has been developed to perfectly adapt to their customers' needs and demands. And definitively, the over 17 million of people downloading the app in more than 220 countries indicates that they did it well. 

An app which allows you to add products to your wishlist with no rush to buy them immediately, that also help you calculate the total-purchase (including shipping, discounts and promotions) and allows you to add or remove any item from your shipping without losing their user’s data, has certainly played a big role in SHEIN’s growth. 

Moreover, SHEIN’s app counts with the key option of allowing comments and comments on specific products, and the truth is that very few retail stores dare to have such feedback within their own app. But guess what, SHEIN’s fans are loving it!

Finally, we have to say that SHEIN offers great customer service and they make sure that their customers never miss the option of having a physical store. The brand is willing to answer all the doubts of its buyers, either through its app or WhatsApp, so their customers are never ignored. 

Regarding social media, SHEIN has also played their cards very well. Do you remember those epic “what I ordered vs what I got” videos?. The popular tag that was born to question brands, especially Chinese unknown brands and of dubious reputation, SHEIN figured it out to use them in favour of their brand by showing through such video content how good their products could be for the price that consumers were paying. From there, SHEIN started a huge path in collaborations and Influencer partnerships that hooked even the most sceptical consumers. 

SHEIN hauls and hashtags revolution became a super trend across most of social media channels and, with the TikTok boom during the COVID pandemic, SHEIN just became stronger than ever, managing to be the number one brand on this platform and boosting its popularity among the GenZ

They know very well how to create a great influencer marketing strategy which counts with a wide network of collaborators, including micro-influencers.  


  • SHEIN plays with a huge advantage by leaning on e-commerce 100%.
  • SHEIN learnt how to understand the psychology of the new generations. 
  • SHEIN has brought some body positivity to the fashion industry by offering a wide range of sizes so everybody can follow the trends. 
  • SHEIN has focused its attention on social media video content.
  • SHEIN has learnt how to build convenient relationships with influencers and micro-influencers. 
  • SHEIN has paid the right attention to its app development and turned it into a highly user friendly one.

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