Often referred to as the Amazon of China, JD.com started in 1998 as a brick-and-mortar store in Beijing, but it has aspirations to be the world’s leading e-commerce retailer. Based on its tremendous growth, it might not take long for the company to get there. Richard Liu, the company’s founder, CEO, and chairman, has even gone so far to predict his company won’t need humans and said, “I hope my company would be 100% automation someday…no human beings anymore, 100% operated by AI and robots.”
JD.com and its competitors such as Amazon, Alphabet, Tencent, Alibaba and more are not only racing to be the world’s largest e-commerce business but to create the operating system for retail in the future. JD.com is driving business with artificial intelligence, big data, and robotics while building the retail infrastructure for the 4th industrial revolution.
JD.com invests in research and development and talent to catapult its AI acumen
By some estimates, JD.com was slow to explore the possible AI applications for its business in comparison to its competitors. However, they have replaced reticence with a robust commitment to new technologies.
JD.com partnered with Fung Retailing to use its global retail expertise and invested in an AI-powered retail research center. A major initiative for the center is to use technology to develop a seamless customer experience between online and offline shopping options by creating an end-to-end retail solution that manages the products, warehousing, pricing and payment processing. With a 30 billion yuan ($4.5 billion) financial commitment to the AI research center, JD.com is not only saying that AI is a core element of its business strategy, but is backing it up through action to guide the future of the company and the future of retail.
AI Catapult, a business accelerator to advance initiatives in artificial intelligence and blockchain technology is another investment in artificial intelligence JD.com recently made. Through partnerships with other tech start-ups, JD.com can develop and test applications and start new businesses that help support its tech infrastructure. With a global list of inaugural companies such as CanYa, Australia’s cryptocurrency leader and Nuggets, a London company that uses blockchain to power its e-commerce payments and ID platform, AI Catapult can help drive JD.com’s success.
In another partnership with Zebra Technologies and Digital China, JD.com invested in a lab dedicated to eCommerce logistics and the Internet of Things. Another incubator to develop and test out solutions that can be implemented into JD.com operations, this lab focuses on logistics management, mobile computing, machine vision and more.
It’s the company’s supply chain that’s the focus of the research and development happening at JD.com’s Global Supply Chain Innovation Centre (GSIC). As with its other innovation centers, GSIC will bring together universities, companies, and industry experts to develop tomorrow’s smart supply chains that will leverage data, natural language processing, image recognition and machine learning to anticipate consumer’s needs better and achieve the highest efficiency possible by using technology.
JD.com’s investment into research and development with resources and partnerships will help the company develop the AI and tech solutions to not only improve its operations but potentially contribute to the evolution of e-commerce for other companies. Along with investing in research, JD.com is also recruiting AI professionals to join their team to help accelerate their AI efforts.
JD.com uses AI, big data and robotics to drive success today
JD.com is not only investing in the technology of tomorrow, but they are also applying today’s technology into its operations in many ways from smart warehouses to drone delivery. Here are just a few ways JD.com uses AI, big data, and robotics in operations today:
Automated warehouses: While JD.com’s warehouses aren’t entirely autonomous, they are taking action currently to automate everything they possibly can.
Robots: Some of the company’s most advanced robots work in its 500 warehouses. They stack products on shelves and pack and ship merchandise to send out to consumers.
Drones: JD.com has used drones to deliver products across China since March 2016. They use drones of various shapes and sizes, and they are currently working to build a drone that can carry up to five tons.
Facial recognition: The company is testing out facial recognition software at its headquarters that would allow shoppers to take their merchandise out of a store without stopping to pay; payment is controlled through facial recognition.
Marketing: JD.com created a model based on its consumer data that creates a profile for every individual that tracks their favorite brands, marital status and more. They use the data they collect to inform their future marketing strategies and create a personalized shopping experience for them.
JD.com tremendous growth was fueled because it operated in the world’s largest retail market. However, as one of the leaders in e-commerce, it quickly found that it must be forward-thinking to develop solutions that hadn’t been created yet using today’s latest technological innovations. With the company’s investment in research and development and drive to become the biggest and best e-commerce retailer, JD.com is ensuring that AI is a bedrock of Chinese—and global—retail, with these and other initiatives.