Forecasts indicate that China will be the world’s largest economy in 2030, followed by India, with the United States dropping to third. A large part of the reason for this shift is China’s insatiable appetite for commerce. According to JD.com, the future of retail is “Boundaryless Retail,” which is the idea of enabling consumers to buy whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want it, online, offline, or even virtually. Whether in the form of products or services, consumers will be captivated by things they haven’t yet experienced or those they didn’t yet realize they needed. And the partnerships look to be endless.
Boundaryless Retail is gaining in popularity as the increasingly diverse needs of consumers require a correspondingly dynamic approach. For example, Chinese consumers are quickly adapting to buying groceries online for immediate delivery from local offline stores. Over 67 percent of Chinese consumers actively use services like JD.com, which can deliver goods from local offline shops, including Walmart, to customers in under an hour. The company envisions a world devoid of artificial barriers, driven by collaboration and innovation, in which JD.com leverages technology to be a force of change for retailers and consumers.
Overall, however, there’s a huge disparity between physical and digital channels, as well as e-commerce issues that need to be urgently addressed. JD.com is working to open up its supply-chain capability, logistics, big data, marketing, finance, and technology to develop an ecosystem. Only 50 percent of retailers believe that they offer the same level of customer experience online as they do in-store, according to research involving 500 retail businesses. For this reason, pop-up stores have evolved to become an important part of retailer and brand strategies.
JD is China’s largest online retailer and its biggest overall retailer, as well as the country’s biggest internet company by revenue. The company has roughly 30 percent of the Chinese business-to-consumer online market, according to the China E-Commerce Research Center, a Hangzhou-based think-tank. With over 300 million customers, JD.com has a vast network of warehouses and delivery stations and delivers most orders in less than a day. JD.com sets the standard for online shopping through its commitment to quality and, authenticity and its expansive product offering covering everything from fresh food and apparel to electronics and cosmetics. Its unrivalled nationwide fulfillment network provides standard same- and next-day delivery covering a population of more than one billion – a level of service and speed that is unmatched globally.
Today, that network includes more than 500 warehouses, many fully automated, and nearly 7,000 delivery stations, allowing JD to cover 99 percent of China’s population and deliver over 90 percent of its orders on the same or next day. To help bring that level of service to remote rural customers, JD has been deploying delivery drones for the past two years and is presently trialing self-driving delivery vehicles on college campuses. JD’s delivery robots can be loaded with up to 30 parcels before autonomously delivering them within a five-kilometer radius. The vehicles can plan routes, avoid obstacles, and recognize traffic lights. Facial recognition technology enables users to easily and securely collect their parcels. Running at full capacity, the delivery stations, operating with a half-half split between robots and couriers, can deliver up to 2,000 packages a day.
Partnering with Ruyi
To further enhance its boundaryless retail concept, JD.com has signed a strategic agreement to provide e-commerce technology to Ruyi, the owner of global fashion brands Aquascutum, Cerruti 1881, Sandro, and Maje. JD stated that it will deploy its full suite of “boundaryless retail” technology, including smart logistics, supply chain solutions, big data-enabled inventory management, and membership systems to establish a retail management system for Ruyi’s subsidiary brands. The partnership will also allow Ruyi and JD to expand their existing efforts to bring Ruyi’s portfolio brands to JD’s over 300 million customers. In addition, Ruyi will also deploy JD’s virtual and augmented reality shopping technology in its brick-and-mortar stores to offer customers a seamless shopping experience.
Partnering with Hotel Brands
JD.com has also partnered with hotel brands like Sheraton and Wanda to allow hotel guests to shop from their hotel rooms. The products include items such as electric toothbrushes, smart speakers, and power banks. Purchases are made through QR codes that can be scanned and purchased via JD.com and delivered directly to the hotel. JD’s smart speaker, one of China’s most popular smart speakers, serves as the perfect personal assistant, providing news, weather, travel, and shopping tips, as well as other assistance during the guests’ stays.
Partnering with Transportation
JD.com has opened two new innovative stores at Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) and Hohhot East Railway Station in Inner Mongolia, further expanding China’s largest retailer’s Boundaryless Retail strategy, designed to enable consumers to buy what they want, whenever and wherever they want it. Located in the departure lounge of Terminal 3 at BCIA for the next three months, the pop-up store will offer popular travel items including daily necessities, clothing, mobile accessories, beauty products, and bags and suitcases. The store uses JD’s smart store technology to understand how customers interact with products, as well as which products to offer them.