Key Takeaways: Is Shein Safe in 2024?

  • Rapid Growth: Founded in 2008, SHEIN saw 100% sales increases eight years in a row, now operating out of Singapore.
  • Business Model: Utilizes a fast-fashion model with extremely low prices and rapid product turnover.
  • Marketing Success: Effective use of influencer marketing, particularly on TikTok, boosted revenue significantly.
  • Customer Safety: Generally safe to use with modern cybersecurity measures, but users should follow best practices to avoid scams.
  • Controversies: Involved in multiple allegations, including forced labor, IP theft, and racketeering.

SHEIN: A Quick Overview of the Brand’s Evolution

Founded in China in 2008, SHEIN started off as a no-frills drop-shipping brand.

Not long after, though, it quickly entered a time of rapid growth, recording 100% sales increases eight years in a row.

As of 2022, SHEIN operates out of Singapore instead of China for financial and regulatory reasons, but regardless of such, it is an ecommerce juggernaut known across the globe.

It’s only natural to be curious as to what factors caused the company to grow so rapidly.

For one, it has offered extremely low prices on accessories and clothing since its inception. Additionally, it follows a fast-fashion model, which means it focuses on delivering the latest trending goods to consumers, often weeks before the items are available in local retail stores.

However, as many people are aware, there are times when something is too good to be true.

It’s a sentiment that has piqued some shoppers’ skepticism, leading them to ask, “Why is SHEIN so cheap?” And that is often followed up by an even more important natural follow-up question, “Is SHEIN safe to use?”

Let’s explore the answer to all of these questions and concerns regarding SHEIN and provide tips to help customers like you avoid scams while using the site’s app and website.

Is SHEIN Legit or a Scam?

At first glance, SHEIN’s website can, admittedly, feel a bit “scammy.”

It has lots of pop-ups, its layout is average at best, and the items are, as mentioned, ludicrously cheap. Outside of being founded by entrepreneur Chris Xu, even the inner workings of the company itself have remained a bit mysterious.

Compounding the issue, SHEIN has been embroiled in several major controversies, with its list of alleged offenses growing constantly. We’ll unpack some of these scandals a bit later, but they include everything from claims of forced labor claims to allegations of widespread IP theft and racketeering violations.

Nevertheless, and despite all of these claims, SHEIN is indeed a legitimate retail brand that is generally quite safe to use.

And over the years, it has racked up thousands of positive reviews. If you are in the market for affordable clothing, accessories, home goods, and various other random items, it’s certainly worth checking out.

Can I Try SHEIN for Free?

In short, absolutely! There are lots of different ways to dip your toes into the world of discount fashion that the brand provides. For instance, you can check out the SHEIN free trial center to try to land some free products.

shein's free trial center page

The program is used to garner feedback on products and help customers better understand if an item is right for them. Participating in it requires a bit of diligence, but you can get up to three items every single week.

Here’s how it works:

  •  Select up to three Free Trial products
  • Input your shipping details and choose your size
  • Go to the platform’s “My Free Trial” hub and see if you were approved (it takes about a week)
  • Once your goods arrive, click “Post Report” to leave a product review

Regarding that last point, make sure to post high-quality reviews. The better your content, the higher your score and the more likely you are to be chosen for future trials.

Why Is SHEIN So Cheap?

The biggest reason why SHEIN’s products are so inexpensive is because of the brand’s fast-fashion business model. The company rapidly produces clothing in line with the newest fashion trends. And though the brand has moved its headquarters to Singapore, most of its workforce is still based in China, which offers access to cheap labor.

SHEIN has also shown itself to be savvy when it comes to marketing. The brand engages in various forms of paid advertising, with one of its most impactful channels being TikTok, where clothing haul videos are viewed by millions. It leverages the immense power of influencer marketing (arguably) better than anyone.

During these videos, influencers, big and small, show off what they’ve purchased from the brand. The impact of these videos is not just apparent in terms of view counts and engagement, though. It clearly shows on SHEIN’s revenue sheet, too.

In 2019, SHEIN generated $3.15B in revenue. In 2020, when it began partnering with influencers to produce clothing haul videos, its revenue skyrocketed to $9.81B. Admittedly, global events had a lot to do with that huge leap, as people were far more inclined to engage in online shopping during the initial height of the pandemic.

Still, there’s no denying that SHEIN’s push for clothing haul content has been a major success. And it is that success that allows SHEIN to continue selling its products at such extensive markdowns.

Is It Safe to Use a Debit Card on SHEIN?

Generally speaking, it is safe to use your debit card to make purchases on SHEIN. The company uses modern cybersecurity measures to keep your data secure and confidential. Nevertheless, you must do your part to prevent data theft and fraud, and giving anyone your payment information incurs at least some risk.

For starters, it’s important to create a strong password and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) to prevent fraudsters from accessing your account. During the 2FA process, you’ll be prompted to verify your identity in two ways. Usually, you’ll enter your password and also input a code that gets sent to you via email or text.

If you want some added peace of mind, consider using a credit card with a locking feature. After SHEIN processes your payment, lock the card and monitor its activity for a few days to ensure no one has gotten hold of your information.

How to Shop Safely on SHEIN

Shopping on SHEIN can be fun and exciting, but just as it is important to keep your finances and account safe, it’s essential to follow a few best practices for online shopping to keep yourself safe altogether. Specifically, you should do the following:

Read Customer Reviews

First, browse through a few reviews about each product before you buy them. While most items on SHEIN arrive as advertised, there are also some junk products on the platform.

Pay close attention to complaints about colors, sizing, and general quality. You can also check some of the pictures added by reviewers to get a better idea of how the clothing might look on a regular person.

shein reviews

Watch out for reviews that seem too good to be true (such as a product with only 5-star and 1-star reviews) as you will certainly run into fake reviews on SHEIN (and every other ecommerce platform).

Look Over Size Charts

Next, carefully review size charts so you can find clothing that fits you appropriately. Otherwise, you’ll have to initiate a return, which can be very tedious.

Protect Your Privacy

Most importantly, protect your privacy. As mentioned earlier, make sure you use a secure internet connection, create a strong password, and enable 2FA on your SHEIN account. Going through an extra step may sound like a hassle, but it’s much better than putting your financial data at risk.

SHEIN Refund Policy Explained

The SHEIN refund policy is pretty clear-cut. You can return most items within 35 days of purchase and receive a refund. However, the items must be “new, unworn, unwashed, undamaged, and unaltered.” They must also still have the original tags and hygiene stickers on them (if included).

The other downside is that you’ll have to cover the return shipping costs. And in most instances, returning the item will cost nearly as much as the product itself, so it’s often not worth returning items (consider donating them instead). Unless you ordered something on the more expensive side or are returning multiple products at once, it may not be worth the hassle.

The exception to needing to pay for shipping is if your product is incorrect or defective. For example, if you ordered a red dress and SHEIN sent a blue one, they will cover the return shipping costs.

How Long Does SHEIN Take to Deliver?

SHEIN’s delivery times depend on the items you order and your chosen shipping method. Standard shipping typically takes about a week. If you opt for express shipping, you should get your item in about two to four business days.

However, seasonal trends and other variables can delay your delivery. SHEIN does a good job of keeping customers in the loop, so you should get notified if there are any issues with your package.

In the middle of 2023, SHEIN announced that it was expanding overseas in hopes of slashing delivery times. It’s still in the process of migrating, but some customers may already enjoy shortened delivery times. After the move is complete, all shoppers may be able to get their hands on fast-fashion goods in as little as a couple of days, even with standard shipping.

Is SHEIN Shutting Down in 2024?

These rumors began circulating in early 2024, and even then, they do not mark the first time that the internet has spread the rumor about a potential SHEIN closure. The reason behind these repeated rumors could fall back onto fellow online retailer Temu. The brand saw spending take a giant leap forward and even surpass SHEIN in terms of growth rate.

Despite losing some ground to its fast-fashion competitor, SHEIN continues to be a powerhouse brand with great prices. Is SHEIN closing? The simple answer is no; not in 2024, and not anytime soon (as far as we know).

Beware of SHEIN Scams Like “SHEIN Gives Back”

SHEIN Gives Back is a common scam wherein fraudsters promise to give you free gift cards or products in exchange for your personal information. If they get a hold of your email address, these illegitimate offers might make their way to your inbox or even your text messages and they will try to scam you from there.

As such, you must always be wary of any communications that don’t come directly from SHEIN’s official website. Check email addresses and URLs carefully before handing over your data, no matter the “promise” from the other party. A SHEIN coupon code might sound tempting, but it isn’t worth something as serious as a case of identity theft. If you are ever even slightly suspicious of an email, just go directly to the SHEIN website (us.shein.com) and navigate to its customer service portal to inquire further.

SHEIN Customer Service: How to Get Help

The SHEIN customer service number is (844) 802-2500. However, the number is generally reserved for more serious issues, such as reporting a security concern. Note that some scammers spoof the official SHEIN customer service phone number, making it look like they are calling from the right number. Don’t fall for the trap.

For general inquiries, it’s typically much easier to reach the company via live chat. Unless its team has received an influx of support requests, you can usually get help within a few minutes.

SHEIN also has a collection of self-service tools available on its platform. You can use these to quickly address minor issues, such as initiating a return or reporting a product. In most instances, handling the problem yourself is often faster and far less frustrating.

Is Temu or Shein Better?

While there are lots of brands in the ecommerce space that fight with SHEIN for market share, the brand’s direct competitor is Temu, as alluded to earlier.

Generally speaking, Temu offers a broader selection of products and accessories, including household goods, which has helped diversify itself from SHEIN and expand into auxiliary markets. Be that as it may, both companies rely on the fast-fashion model to deliver value to consumers.

@strawberrycancerqueen

Dont knock it till ya order 🙃 #shein #temuhaul #shoppinghaul

♬ i have your competition on the phone . – ・❥・

As such, the battle between Temu and SHEIN seems like your typical fight between retail competitors at first glance. However, it’s more accurate to consider it a war, one that has already spilled over into the news and even courtrooms.

Temu has hurled several significant accusations at SHEIN, initiated lawsuits, and taken other steps to level the playing field. And though many of these court cases are still ongoing, it does appear that SHEIN may make it out of these controversies largely unscathed.

SHEIN’s Worst Allegations Explained

We already wrote up a rather exhaustive expose covering all of SHEIN’s many controversies and allegations so we won’t go into all of the grizzly details of every allegation. However, we will provide a quick glimpse into three of the most alarming claims leveraged against SHEIN so you know what kind of company you are dealing with. Specifically, multiple parties have accused the company of the following:

Threatening Suppliers

Temu filed a suit against SHEIN, alleging that it threatened and intimidated its suppliers by forcing them into exclusive dealing agreements with the e-commerce brand. If true, these actions may violate U.S. antitrust laws, as they create a sort of monopoly on fast-fashion goods.

Violating RICO Laws

Temu isn’t the only entity to sue SHEIN. A group of artists and designers banded together to sue SHEIN for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a law that helps bring down gangs and criminal enterprises of all kinds. In the filing, complainants allege that the brand stole, copied, or otherwise unlawfully used artists’ work with the help of artificial intelligence.

Using Slave Labor

SHEIN has also been accused of using slave labor and unjust employment practices to keep its prices down. Temu has even faced similar claims. Reports about the scope and severity of SHEIN’s worker violations vary, but all of the allegations are serious and alarming.

How SHEIN Uses Influencer Marketing

SHEIN has mastered the art of influencer marketing, leveraging social media platforms to drive its brand’s visibility and sales. One of the most impactful channels for SHEIN is TikTok, where clothing haul videos generate millions of views.

Influencers, both big and small, showcase their SHEIN purchases, demonstrating the latest fashion trends and how affordable the products are.

The company’s strategy includes partnering with micro-influencers and major social media stars, offering them free products or payment in exchange for content creation.

These influencers often share discount codes with their followers, creating a direct incentive for purchases. This approach not only boosts engagement but also fosters a sense of community among SHEIN’s target audience.

In addition to TikTok, SHEIN uses Instagram and YouTube to reach a broader audience.

Influencers post photos and videos wearing SHEIN outfits, often linking directly to the products. This seamless shopping experience appeals to the digital consumer, making it easy to transition from viewing content to making a purchase.

The success of SHEIN’s influencer marketing is evident in its revenue growth.

For instance, in 2019, SHEIN generated $3.15 billion in revenue. By 2020, this number skyrocketed to $9.81 billion, largely driven by their strategic use of influencer marketing and the global shift towards online shopping during the pandemic.

SHEIN vs. Competitors

When comparing SHEIN to its fast-fashion competitors, several key differences and competitive advantages stand out:

  1. Price Point: SHEIN consistently offers lower prices compared to competitors like Zara and H&M. This affordability attracts a younger, price-sensitive demographic looking for the latest trends without breaking the bank.
  2. Product Variety: With an extensive and frequently updated catalog, SHEIN offers a wider range of styles and products. This constant refreshment keeps customers returning to see what’s new, giving them more options to choose from.
  3. Speed of Production: SHEIN’s fast-fashion model allows it to bring new trends to market much faster than traditional retailers. They can move from design to production in just a few weeks, ensuring they stay ahead of fashion cycles.
  4. Influencer Engagement: While many competitors also use influencer marketing, SHEIN has particularly excelled in this area. Their strategic partnerships with micro and macro-influencers create a more personalized and relatable brand image.
  5. User Experience: SHEIN’s app and website are user-friendly, featuring customer reviews, detailed size charts, and a robust return policy. These elements help build trust and ensure a positive shopping experience.
  6. Global Reach: SHEIN’s ability to adapt its marketing and product offerings to different regions has helped it gain a significant international customer base, often outpacing competitors in new and emerging markets.

While competitors like ASOS, Boohoo, and PrettyLittleThing offer similar products and services, SHEIN’s aggressive pricing, rapid production cycle, and effective influencer marketing have given it a distinctive edge in the fast-fashion industry.

So, Is SHEIN Safe?

It’s generally agreed that SHEIN is quite safe to use, though giving away payment details to anyone incurs at least some risk.

At the end of the day, deciding whether to use SHEIN is a matter of personal judgment. The aim of the SHEIN platform is to offer thousands of cheap clothing items, though the lingering controversies surrounding its labor practices may not align with your personal values.

In any case, in terms of safety, the platform is secure to use. As long as you follow ecommerce best practices, you can minimize your risk of fraud and data theft.