A look at the originals of this hot clothing brand.

Logo for Shein has the letters in black black capital letters

It is loved by young people all over the world. It is also one of the most talked-about brands on TikTok and YouTube, yet very few people know where Shein (pronounced as “She in”) comes from. Nevertheless, there is a thing or two we can learn from its domain strategy.

In recent months, Shein has overtaken Amazon as the most installed shopping app in the United States, so you may think it is an American brand. If you look it up at Crunchbase, you may conclude that Shein is an Indian company. Actually, Shein is located in China, but mum about its national identity.

In 2011, Chris Xu in Nanjing registered SheInside.com and developed it to offer low-cost wedding dresses made in China to overseas consumers. A year later, he changed the product line to general apparel and accessories for young women. Sales exploded thanks to its SEO-driven real-time product design, brand marketing through social networks, and influencer-based affiliate sales channels.

In 2015, Xu upgraded the brand to simply “Shein” and also acquired the brand-matching Shein.com for $95,000 at Sedo. In 2020, the fashion startup completed a Series E funding round which valued it at $15 billion. According to its website, Shein now ships to over 220 countries and regions worldwide.

Now, let’s analyze Shein’s domain strategy.

The company focuses on .com, as evident in the choice of SheInside.com and later Shein.com. Although it also owns Shein.cn, the domain does not resolve. This .com bias is commonly found in much of my end user research, such as Fortune China 100, where over 70% use .com for their corporate domains.

The company prefers English brands: SheInside (she inside) and Shein (she in). Again, this approach is popular in corporate China. If you read the Fortune China 100 list mentioned, you’ll notice that English is the No.1 choice.

Even though Xu paid just the registration fee to acquire SheInside.com, he did not hesitate to shell out high 5 figures for Shein.com. This shows Chinese companies are willing to pay dearly for domain upgrades. Some past examples are 360.cn to 360.com for $17 million, VivoGlobal.com to Vivo.com for $2.1 million, and DJI-Innovations.com to DJI.com for $300,000.

Another observation is that short is good. Chinese companies like to upgrade to shorter domains, such as Shein.com, Vovi.com, and DJI.com.

This domain preference is good news for domain investors in the west. It means you can invest in English-based .com domains and sell them to China. To find end users for your domains, you may try “Three steps to Chinese end user research and 7 ways to find contact email addresses for Chinese companies.

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