SHEIN Plans Canadian Expansion with Multiple Temporary Retail Spaces [Interview]


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After a successful pop-up in March at the CF Toronto Eaton Centre, Chinese ecomm retailer SHEIN is setting its sights on continuing to build its presence in the Canadian market.

Angela Tucciarone, head of corporate communications in the U.S., for SHEIN, said the company in Canada and the U.S. has started a localization strategy over the last few years to place local teams closer to the communities where they operate from a marketing standpoint – and being close to the pulse of things.

“But also from a logistical standpoint. Setting up warehouses as we did in Markham (Ontario) will allow us to streamline deliveries and eventually expedite some shipping times to customers. Global company, online only and a local approach.”

SHEIN Toronto Pop-Up at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, March 2023 (Image: Elaine Fancy)
SHEIN Toronto Pop-Up at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, March 2023 (Image: Elaine Fancy)

Tucciarone said last year the company had a showroom in Toronto which was more of an experiential site with no sales. The recent pop-up was its first where it was selling items to customers.

Angela Tucciarone

“It was for four days and it was terrific. We had about 5,500 customers pass through over the course of four days,” she said. “It exceeded our expectations and we also had some VIP tickets. The lines at these pop-up experiences can tend to be long. There’s such a high demand. So by purchasing for a small cost ($5) guests could get a VIP ticket which gives them an express experience and we donated the profits from the VIP experience to an organization called New Circles Community Services.

“We’re an e-commerce retailer and we’ve been around for a little bit more of a decade at this point. Our founders who are still part of the company today founded it for a lot of women’s apparel at that point and we’ve since expanded to include tons of brands some of which we showcased at the pop-up,” said Tucciarone.

“What’s unique about our company is we produce on demand. So what you see on our site is a lot of variety but that doesn’t translate to volume. We have a lot of designs. When people find something they like, they order it, we’ll produce it. As low as 100 pieces per item. If it’s ordering well, we have a real-time system that’s connected to our suppliers and we up the order and if it’s not going well we get rid of it.

“The on-demand model is what I think has propelled our business to remain really affordable, offer a lot of variety to customers but also we don’t have overhead. Pop-ups are unique for us. But we don’t have traditional brick and mortar stores. So it’s allowed us to be pretty nimble and agile over the last 10 years.”

SHEIN Toronto Pop-Up at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, March 2023 (Image: Elaine Fancy)

She said the company did an exit survey from the pop-up event and 89 per cent of people said they wanted to return to a pop-up.

“So while this was our first pop-up in Toronto I would expect it won’t be our last,” added Tucciarone.

“We are going to be doing something in Montreal this summer which will be our first ever there. So this is big for us. Expanding to Montreal will be big. We know we have a strong fan base there and likely we will do something else before the end of the year. To be continued.

“In addition to just pop-ups, the Canadian market is very important to us and we’re looking to do a lot more in terms of just general marketing. So I think you’ll see some more marketing and sponsorships and activations in Toronto and the surrounding area.”

SHEIN Toronto Pop-Up 2022 (Image: Frank Lin)

The company opened its Canadian headquarters in Markham in October last year. It serves as both an office and a warehouse of about 170,000 square feet. The number of staffers in the warehouse could be close to 200 by the end of this year.

Also, SHEIN X was created to allow designers to do what they do best–create – while SHEIN handles manufacturing, marketing, and selling. It’s true the best of both worlds, says the company, as it gets to showcase new talent while emerging designers can keep their profits and ownership of their creations. From only seven designers when the program launched in January 2021, the SHEIN X incubator program has grown to almost 3,000 designers and artists from around the world, launching nearly 2,000 collections. Canada has over 50 designers in the program. 

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.


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