New data underscores a slowdown in the e-commerce market – TechCrunch

back in 2020Ashwin Ramasamy, founder of PipeCandy, asked on TechCrunch if the “ecommerce shift” the world was seeing when COVID-19 rocked the global economy would last. The answer was yes. But that doesn’t mean the same pace of growth in online commerce that the world saw during the pandemic will continue.

In fact, as 2021 drew to a close, the data began to indicate that the e-commerce boom was slowing. The question at the time was whether we were seeing a reversion to the growth norms of the pre-COVID era or whether growth would slow further; in the latter case, it would imply that future e-commerce activity was boosted, rather than the larger digital commerce pie growing thanks to long-term changes in the economy.

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New data from Pinduoduo, a large Chinese e-commerce company, and final results from Alibaba and others for the fourth quarter of last year suggest that the forward pattern of recent e-commerce growth is the most likely.

For startups, it’s somewhat mixed news. Certainly, any startup selling in the eCommerce marketplace has more TAMs to tackle than ever before.

But slowing growth means it will be more difficult to grow at previous levels, as outperforming the market segment enough to surprise venture capitalists will be more difficult. (But it’s certainly not impossible, as today’s nine-figure CommerceIQ round makes clear.)

Let’s take a look at some of the most recent data to get an idea of ​​where we are today.

The slowdown in the growth of Pinduoduo

In Q4 2021, the Chinese e-commerce giant grew just 3% from its prior year results, released during the pandemic-accelerated Q4 2020 period. More simply put: Pinduoduo barely managed not to shrink compared to its late 2020 results.

In numerical terms, Pinduoduo reported $4.3 billion in revenue. That figure in its local currency was RMB 27.2 billion, below market expectations of RMB 30.1 billion. Investors were expecting much more growth than Pinduoduo could deliver, but earnings of more than $1 billion helped calm the market.

Pinduoduo is not so much an outlier.

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