Xian Yu App – 闲鱼 – China’s Emerging Second-Hand Market

It wasn’t long ago that second-hand was a no-go zone for retail in China. There’s no glory in a gently-used trampoline, and a light film of shame still taints second-hand purchases. But that, like every other damn thing, may be ripe for revaluation. In an April 2016 piece exploring China’s changing attitudes towards buying second-hand, Hudson Lockett writes:

“…Taobao, the online retail platform of e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group, has launched its own second hand goods site, Xian Yu, which now purports to facilitate daily sales of 200,000 used products. The platform seeks to distinguish itself from Taobao proper by pitching itself as a social as well as commercial experience in order to foster greater trust among users. In November, Tencent’s tech news site cited an unnamed insider as saying Xian Yu would be spun off into its own business unit to seek outside investment sources.”

So Taobao, at least, believes there’s a future for second-hand goods, and has launched a spin-off app to that effect. Lockett cautions that there’s very little market research on the topic, and though I did find a few consumer behavior studies that address the issue, I tend to agree.

Viability of the business model aside, while there is a desktop site, it’s the Xian Yu 闲鱼 mobile interface that stands out as a sparkly example of modern Chinese big e-commerce design done right. Looksee? First the screens, then the translations of the screens:

Home Screen

Chinese App Analysis: Second-hand landing screen

Chinese App Interface Analysis:

Category Listing

Beautifully presented categories with a custom icon set designed to match the platform’s mascot. Assuming categories are arranged according to user data, personal electronics take the top three slots.

Chinese retail app interface categories screen

Chinese User Behavior: Chinese ecommerce design category screen

Product Listing

Chinese app design: Xianyu Second Hand product list screen

Chinese retail app design

Product Detail Page

Chinese Mobile Design: Product detail page

Chinese Mobile ecommerce design: product detail page

“Fish Ponds” Near You

“Fish Ponds” are user groups based on locality. Users may not upload products to the app without first joining a fish pond near the user’s location, and are centered around local landmarks, like schools, apartment complexes and commercial high rises. Users may not upload products to fish ponds too far away. Each fish pond has a group lead personally invited by Xian Yu staff. At the moment, the app doesn’t allow users to start their own fish ponds or apply to be fish pond leaders, but that’s probably on its way.

Chinese mobile user interface design: xianyu group landing page

Chinese mobile user interface design: xianyu group landing page

Fish Pond detail screen


Chinese mobile user interface design: xianyu group landing page


Chinese Mobile Design Analysis: Taobao Xianyu app

Chinese UI Analysis: Chinese app login screen

Any thoughts on Chinese attitudes towards second-hand purchases? Do tell in the comments.

1 reply to Xian Yu App – 闲鱼 – China’s Emerging Second-Hand Market

  1. Extremely user unfriendly for non-mandarin speakers. Where or how do you actually sell products? Also why isn’t this feature available on their website where you can at least translate everything?

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