Pinduoduo Inc. extended its streak as the fastest-growing major consumer internet company in the world, adding more than 200 million customers in a year to end 2020 with a record 788.4 million annual active buyers.
Founded in 2015, Pinduoduo took less than six years to supplant the incumbent in its home market to become China’s largest marketplace operator by the number of active buyers. With more customers than the population of Europe, the Shanghai-based company has set a goal of becoming the world’s biggest agricultural and grocery platform.
Last year, Pinduoduo handled more than 270 billion yuan ($42 billion) in agricultural-related orders, doubling from the year before.
Pinduoduo has been able to aggregate demand and generate large volumes of orders for farmers by making recommendations to consumers based on the company’s understanding of their shopping preferences, the Nasdaq-listed company said in its annual 20-F filing released April 30.
By facilitating direct sales by small-scale farmers to consumers, Pinduoduo helps the growers to reduce their dependence on distributors and increase their earnings, which can be reinvested in the farms and technology to improve productivity. Consumers benefit from fresher and safer produce at lower prices.
“We are grateful that our customers have continued to shop with us as we expanded from our beginnings in agriculture to the all-category marketplace of today,” said Chen Lei, Chairman and CEO of Pinduoduo.
“Pinduoduo will continue to focus on delivering the best value for money through a fun and interactive shopping experience, and deepen our push to help agriculture plug into the digital economy.”
Since becoming CEO in July 2020, Chen has made accessibility to affordable and quality groceries a central plank to his strategy to accelerate the digitization of the agriculture industry. In August, Pinduoduo introduced an online grocery service that allowed customers to collect their orders the next day from a nearby pickup point.
The service, called Duo Duo Grocery, is now available in about 300 cities across China. By matching demand for fresh groceries to local supply, Pinduoduo is helping farming communities to tap into demand from its close to 800 million customers.
This has opened up new avenues for farmers to sell their produce to a wider pool of buyers, building flexibility and resilience into the food supply chain.
To facilitate the handling of fragile perishables such as leafy greens, Pinduoduo has stepped up its investments in developing a logistics system suited to agriculture. The company has applied to patent its proprietary logistics infosystem, which includes algorithm-driven route planning and smart warehousing, fleet and cold-chain management.