Inside JD.com, the giant Chinese firm that could eat Amazon alive


Pujiang Pu is a smiling, middle-aged man in the mid-forties with stylish glasses, a gold watch, and a red JD Lenard in his neck. With many of JD.com's 150,000 employees - sometimes an e-commerce store in the city, sometimes called Amazon of China - it is close to one of the company's 500 largest warehouses. Lives in a free hostel. The warehouse I visit is in Jiauding, 30 km northwest of downtown Shanghai. Hundreds of people work here, and at a size of one million square meters, it sits on a JD complex that will take at least 45 minutes to walk from one end to the other.


I'm allowed here as part of a rare, highly supervised press visit, and Warehouse Manager Pew is our tour guide. I haven't been shown everything, but enough to impress - or, as some analysts think, Amazon wants to eventually become a company of some kind.

JD wasn't always that big. It was started as a small brick and mortar store in Beijing, founded in 1998 by Richard Liu. Then in 2004, Liu moved it online and created JD.com for Jddong. Fast forward to today, and the firm is worth over $ 55 billion. In February, Logistics magazine DC Velicity called it "the biggest company you won't even know about". Not for long - JD has been growing so fast at home in China and other markets such as Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, and more recently in Europe, that even the highly-regarded Amazon Will sit down and take notice.

The main reason for this is that Pup lives in a dormitory on the site, and lives far away from his family, making sure he or she is able to meet the key performance indicators set by the firm. Sometimes, especially during JD.com's annual shopping program, it has to work until late at night.

But the future of these dorms is uncertain. Many traditional warehouse jobs, such as shelf stacking and packing boxes in JD, are likely to go robots in the years to come, as the company begins to automate everything that can be thoughtfully automated. The tech giant is now re-training some staff to take on new roles that machines can't yet do. The firm has some of the latest robotics in Pew's warehouses. And he gets really excited talking about autonomous forklift trucks and delivery drones.

These drones have been in the news a lot lately. Remember when Amazon boss Jeff Bezos claimed his firm would be leaving a parcel at your doorstep soon? Well, that was in 2013 - and, on some small-scale trials, this is still not happening. But this is happening very much in JD - March 2016. Since then, its drones have been delivering products across China, which has set a flight time of 300 to 300,000 minutes. "Today we have more than 200 people working on their drone program," says Zheng Koi, director of the drone R&D center of the firm in Xi'an.

Drones come in different shapes and sizes, but can fly at speeds of up to 100 km / h and have a range of 100 km. So far, the top distance is 15km and the drone has flown very fast at 100km / h - but you have to start somewhere. For those who can't yet drone, JD does it with its 65,000 van drivers and couriers.

Although drone efforts are unheard of, other companies are eager to replicate the success of JD's air delivery. Qi says more and more firms are in touch to buy their drones. He added, "We received an order in a thousand earlier this year.

Those drones are still small, but the JD is busy producing large tons that can carry up to five tons. "They will move inventory from one warehouse to another." "In three years, we're looking to get a thousand," he says, "and they'll leave from the small airports near the company's warehouses."

It's not just drones that make the Chinese West different from Western e-commerce stores. Robots are everywhere in JD In the warehouse I go to, the machines stack tens of thousands of products on a 24 meter high shelves. From where I am, another fully automated warehouse can pack and ship 200,000 products a day. Robots aren't alone yet, though: There are four human assistants in a fully automated warehouse.

Automation, growth, scale. Mega but still relatively unknown is unlikely to slow down. Its revenue is up 40% a year, up from $ 55.7 billion in 2017. The company's spokesperson proudly tells us that the firm is the world's third-largest "Internet company" after Google and Amazon, but ahead of companies like Facebook, eBay, and Ali, its largest rival. Baba.

It has major supporters such as Tencent - China's largest Internet company and owner of WeChat by market cap.

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Inside JD.com, the giant Chinese firm that could eat Amazon alive Inside JD.com, the giant Chinese firm that could eat Amazon alive Reviewed by Rajesh on August 06, 2019 Rating: 5

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