Temu - Everything you need to know about Temu

An iPhone on a purple/orange background. The orange icon of TEMU is able to be seen on the iPhone's screen.
Credit: Temu

An iPhone on a purple/orange background. The orange icon of TEMU is able to be seen on the iPhone's screen.
Credit: Temu

Sometimes all you want is to be able to afford a new set of sofa cushions for a price that isn't demanding you sell your kidney to get them. If that's the case, there's no doubt in our minds you've heard of Temu.

Whether through a friend who brought some slippers for less than a dollar, or some general sleuthing on the internet, Temu has earned the reputation for being the place to go for a cheap deal.

But what is this app exactly, and what makes it stand out amongst the variety of other apps like Shein, CINDER, and even Amazon? We answer all your questions about everything you need to know about Temu.

What is Temu?

A simple question, with a seemingly simple answer. Temu is an online marketplace that is run by an e-commerce company known as PDD Holdings, based in Dublin, Ireland. A lot of its goods are heavily discounted, and are shipped to consumers directly from China. Indeed, Temu is one of the cheapest places to get anything you require: from cutlery to clothes to tech products like the Nintendo Switch. Everything is heavily discounted.

Temu's platform first launched in the United States back in September 2022. Less than a year later, in March 2023, Temu's platform went live in Australia and New Zealand. Then, the following month, Temu finally landed on the shores of France, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, Italy, and the UK.

Temu has quickly become a well-known brand, one that increased substantially when it appeared during a Super Bowl ad in February 2024. However, this popularity and Temu's 'too-good-to-be-true' prices does come with a drawback: legal disputes with rival Shein, as well as concerns over data privacy, forced labour and overall quality of its marketplace products.

Is Temu legit?

Temu is a legitimate marketplace that you can purchase items from, but as you can see from Trustpilot scores, Temu reviews are very polarising with 43% of users giving 5-star scores, while 37% gave 1-star scores.

For 5-star scores, the majority are happy with the products they have received, and do not seem concerned by the quality. However, users who have given the app 1-star scores state that the delivery time is too slow, and that the overall quality of products is poor. With this in mind, the legitimacy of some items is called into question and Temu's services seem safe to be regarded as a 'hit-or-miss'.

Ultimately, the question of legitimacy for Temu is a simple one: yes, you can buy products from Temu and they do arrive. That being said, you should be aware that there are ongoing discussions around the quality and authenticity of said marketplace products. For example, if Temu is selling a Galaxy Watch that usually costs over 300 dollars for as little as 30 dollars, there is reason to doubt that the product you receive will be the actual device it is advertising to sell.

Customers should also consider whether cheap value is worth it in products that could be a safety hazard, particularly electronics.

Why is Temu so cheap?

According to Temu, the reason why the e-commerce marketplace is so cheap is that is because the supply chain runs directly from consumers, those who make the products, straight to sellers - completely cutting out the middleman. This allows Temu to decrease prices.

There is also concern that Temu's items are so cheap because of third-party sellers, which raises questions on how the company is using these sellers labour.

Does Temu have a physical store?

While the e-commerce's rivals like Shein do have physical stores, that is not the case for Temu. What this means is that you are unable to go to your local mall and find a Temu storefront.

There are many reasons why Temu does not have a physical location. An online-only model makes it so they spend less money to operate, and thus maximise their profits as much as they can. And, because they don't have to worry about the upkeep of a physical store, they can shop products directly to the person who bought it, rather than keep it in a warehouse to be taken to a store.

Does Temu steal personal data?

Temu has had several privacy concerns raised over whether or not it steals personal data. The US government has accused Temu of data risks, particularly due to Temu's developer PDD Holdings having a shady history with its previous app, a Chinese e-commerce marketplace known as Pinduoduo. It should also be noted that Pinduoduo has previously been accused of selling illegal goods.

That said, Temu is available in numerous countries. In the UK, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR, for short) states that companies doing business in the UK must be transparent about the data which they collect, how it is used, and the data itself must be relevant and limited to the company's interests.

There is also the Grizzly Report investigation of Temu, which alleges that the app is using permissions granted by users to install malicious malware to spy on people's data. As of the time of writing, nothing of the sort has been confirmed.

Temu's privacy policy states that the company doesn't "sell" the data of its customers. At least, not for money. However, the e-commerce app does share information with shipping partners, consumer research companies and marketing providers; which does provide Temu money.

Regardless, while it is impossible to take full control of your data when using an app like Temu, we advise to use the following steps to help put your mind at ease, and get some level of control on what information is being shared.

  • Read the privacy policy - This may seem obvious, but reading the privacy policy is the best way to see what you're agreeing to when you download the app. It's long, it's boring, and you'd rather be having a sweet treat, but if it helps you choose whether or not to download, it seems the best option, doesn't it?
  • Make sure you're aware of permissions - Most apps require some level of access to your device in order to work the way it's supposed to. For Temu, check what it wants before you download and deny access for certain apps/settings if it goes too far to be comfortable for you.
  • Check what is optional - If you know what is optional, then you can decide what you can opt out of.
An overview of the Temu marketplace. It features shockingly low prices.
expand image
Credit: Temu

Is Temu ethical?

With a number of cheap products available at a click of a button, the question of whether or not Temu produces them ethically is a sensible one to ask.

In June 2023, the e-commerce marketplace's reputation was called into question with US lawmakers warning that there was "an extremely high risk" that products sold on Temu were made with forced labour.

The US House Select Committee's report stated that Temu does not "have an auditing or compliance program to ensure sellers remain in compliance with its code of conduct."

"Temu does not have any system to ensure compliance with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). This all but guarantees that shipments from Temu containing products made with forced labor are entering the United States on a regular basis," the report said.

Concerns that both Temu and its rival Shein have experienced rapid growth aided by "exploitation" has previously been raised.

The long and short answer of whether Temu is ethical or not. A simple and hard no.

That's all you need to know about Temu, the e-commerce marketplace which has taken the world by storm. If you're interested in finding out more about apps like Temu, check out our guide on the fast fashion app Shein.

This Article's Topics

Explore new topics and discover content that's right for you!