Latest update: 12.09.2023 | by Lili
Singaporean e-Commerce company Shopee has set its sights on Europe. Besides its regular Southeast Asian and Latin-American markets, Shopee has recently added EU countries Poland, Spain and France to its territories. But what does this mean for your brand?
Founded in 2015, Shopee quickly became one of the most important players in Southeast Asian e-Commerce. With a mobile-centric, social-first business model, Shopee provides a unique shopping experience to its customers in Asia, Latin-America, and now in Europe as well.
Shopee offers a wide range of products from groceries to electronics, fashion, beauty, home appliances and more, often at bargain prices, and sold by third-party sellers. However, the quality and origin of the products available on Shopee is often problematic, so much so that the marketplace is featured on the US Trade Representative’s latest Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy. According to this document, “very high levels of counterfeits” are sold on the marketplace.
Does Shopee coming to Europe mean that these will be readily available in the entire EU as well?
Screenshot of shopee.com displaying its new European markets
When you land on Shopee’s homepage, the site lets you choose your region or country. This list has recently been extended by three European countries, France, Poland and Spain. If you click on a country, you’re redirected to the specific market.
The homepage of shopee.fr
This, for example, is what you get when you click on “France.”
+++ Update Spring 2022 +++
Shopee decided to cease operations in France and shut down its French website on 6 March 2022. The company sent a statement to Bloomberg, explaining that “Following a short-term, preliminary pilot, we have decided not to continue the Shopee service in France. Other markets are unaffected. We continue to adopt an open-minded and disciplined approach to exploring new markets.”
+++Update Autumn 2022 +++
Shortly after pulling out of France, Shopee closed its Spanish operation on 17 June 2022. In a statement appearing on the website, Shopee promised its customers to maintain after-sales services for transactions in progress at the time. This means that out of the three European countries Shopee launched its services in, only Poland remains standing.
+++Update January 2023 +++
As of 13 January 2023, Shopee closed down its Polish service along with the website shopee.pl. Since the marketplace has already pulled out of France and Spain, the Polish closure means that Shopee is no longer present in Europe. However, we’ll continue to monitor Shopee’s global expansion plans and report back here when new plans emerge.
Interestingly, one of Shopee’s competitors, Wish, was recently banned from France, at least when it comes to web search results. The French government decided to erase Wish from Google and all other search engine results due to illegal product listings and even dangerous products. Would Shopee also fall into this category?
As you can see, the design as well as the product and price range is roughly the same as in Shopee's home market in Southeast Asia. Significant discounts and the tile format familiar from social media compel prospective customers to shop.
Technically, Shopee is only present in Spain and Poland. However, as the EU is a single market, we can safely assume that products (and marketplaces) available in a member state will sooner or later find their way into other member states as well.
Which means that brands and sellers in Germany and every other EU country have to get ready for Shopee and its products entering their market. In fact, the e-Commerce platform desertcart already makes a selection of Shopee products available to German customers.
Screenshot of desertcart.de offering to ship Shopee products to Germany
As we’ve seen above, Shopee is often plagued by low quality, cheap products of questionable origins. Even when the marketplace wasn’t available in Europe, brands on our continent had to be aware of the threat Shopee posed on their IP rights.
After all, counterfeit or grey market versions of their products could surface on the marketplace any time, which meant that they were losing revenue and reputation in other parts of the world without having any idea about it.
But now, with Shopee at our front door (or, in the cases of France, Poland and Spain, already in the living room), the risks of fake and/or grey market products flooding our markets is a lot higher.
Especially since European consumers are actively looking for brands and products that are known to them, and many of them wouldn’t say no to a considerable discount. Which drives the demand for fakes and grey market goods of your European brand even higher.
But how can you defend your brand against such threats?
The answer is, yet again, online brand protection.
The first step to protection against IP infringement is awareness. Our various monitoring services, including marketplace, image and social media monitoring ensure that IP-infringing content is detected on the internet. Combining state-of-the art software tools and imaginative human expertise, online brand protection experts at globaleyez quickly discover web content that hurts your brand.
Then, with a test purchase, we get tangible (and court-admissible!) proof about the infringement, the seller and the origins of the product. Finally, we enforce your rights and ensure that the offending product listing, ad or image is removed from the internet.
Our approach that has proven to be successful on over a hundred marketplaces in the world, including Shopee in Southeast Asia and Latin-America, will ensure that IP-infringing listings are detected and removed from Shopee’s European platforms as well.