By SUTHICHAI YOON
“We plan to make Indonesia the centre for the island area of Southeast Asia and Thailand the hub for mainland Southeast Asia,” said Liu, 43, who is challenging Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group’s inroads into Thailand.
In an exclusive interview at his headquarters in Beijing last Tuesday, Liu, whose Chinese name is Liu Qiangdong, said he would be coming to Thailand in early November.
“I would like to sit down with business leaders, entrepreneurs and e-commerce operators of Thailand to discuss how we can work together, how we can empower them with our experience and technologies, and ensure that we all benefit from this new partnership,” he said, when asked how he could assure local businessmen that China’s e-commerce giants would not destroy local businesses.
Liu founded JD.com in 2004 in the wake of the SARS outbreak. Today, the massive e-commerce company with about 150,000 employees around the world, claims to be the largest retailer in China, online or offline, with about 258.3 million active users. In the second quarter of 2017, JD.com reported that its gross merchandise value (GMV) had hit US$49.5 billion (Bt1.6 trillion).
In 2007, Liu began building a self-operated nationwide logistics network. Together with fleets of delivery vehicles and tens of thousands of delivery personnel backed by data-driven technologies, JD.com boasts same-day and next-day delivery “at a level of service unmatched globally”. It claims to have fulfilled 591.2 million orders in the second quarter of this year.
Asked what he would bring to Thailand, Liu said: “First, we will bring our experience. We have built up a very successful e-commerce experience in China – from zero until today. We have a lot of know-how and experience, which I think is quite important to Thailand.”
He said in the past 13 years, JD.com had invested a “huge amount of money” in technology. “We will bring our new and best technology to Thailand,” he said.
He cited as examples smart warehouses, drones, last-mile delivery, robotics, search systems, big data and cloud computing technology.
“In other words, we will bring every latest, new technology to Thailand,” he said.
Asked what JD.com had that others did not in the battle for business in Thailand, Liu said: “We have created the best user experience in China. Even in the global context, if you look at our delivery speed, our postal service, and our quality control system, we are always the best. We will offer Thailand the best consumer experience.”
He added: “We will spend enough time to build up trust in Thailand and the other Asean countries. We will offer the best products, at the best prices and best services.”
JD.com recently announced the establishment of two joint ventures with Thailand’s Central Group, investing up to $500 million covering online sales and financial technology (fintech) services.
Under the agreement announced yesterday, half the investment will come from Central Group, with the remainder from JD.com in China and financial technology operator JD Finance and Provident Capital, which is JD.com’s strategic partner for its Indonesian e-commerce business.
Across both the e-commerce and fintech businesses, Central Group will leverage its extensive retail resources, including its physical store network, which will serve as key omnichannel and payment locations.
It will contribute its brand and merchant relationships, as well as its retail behaviour insights from its popular customer loyalty programme, “The 1 Card”.
Liu said: “Thailand’s large population and developed infrastructure, including strong national logistics networks, give it tremendous potential for both e-commerce and fintech services.
“Working with Central Group, Thailand’s strongest retail group, with a massive shopping mall and department store network, gives us a huge competitive advantage as we expand further into Southeast Asia,” he said.
JD.com has joined hands with about 130,000 merchants to help brands access the large China’s consumer base. It has also built strategic partnership with Tencent and Walmart to leverage JD’s expertise.
JD.com was listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange in May, 2014 with a market capitalisation of over $55 billion as of May 19. The company is the first Chinese Internet firm to join the Fortune Global 500 List.