Beijing’s JD.com is the largest online retailer in China. The company’s CEO, chairman and founder Liu Quingdong, also called Richard Liu, started the firm in 1998 as a computer accessories store since he was interested in computer programming. Liu didn’t sell counterfeit products like some of the Beijing tech stores, so he built a good reputation for his brand. Liu eventually had 12 stores in Shanghai and Shenyang as well as in Beijing.
The SARS outbreak in 2003 kept Chinese employees and consumers at home. Other shop owners may have given up, however, Liu knew his whole village of Suqian, Jiangsu province, had saved to send him to People’s University of China, where he earned a B.S. degree in Sociology. He also earned an MBA from the Europe International Business School and taught himself computer programming in his spare time. Quingdong took his passion for technology and became an Internet entrepreneur. JD.com became known for providing the same high-quality products and his brick-and-mortar stores did and Liu enjoyed the same success. JD’s story is unique in that a disease was responsible for Liu’s e-commerce success. The company takes in over $55.7 billion in revenue each year and Liu is estimated to be worth $12.7 billion. In 2018, Fortune listed Liu as number 148 on their list of billionaires.
Richard Liu had a logistics program that delivered packages on the same day or next day in China. No other global e-commerce retailer could match his fast delivery times, even outside of China. While Liu delivered packages himself in the early days of JD.com, the company has 20 smart logistics centers today with more than 550 warehouses. He’s also using drones, robots and autonomous technology to deliver to remote villages. JD is known for not charging extra to deliver to remote areas, where extra shipping charges from other companies made products affordable.
Liu’s future expansion plans include selling new products in China, then Southeast Asia. Next, Liu Quingdong plans to expand to Europe, the Middle East and the United States. He’s said he wants to expand, selling any product to any consumer anywhere in the world.
At the 2018 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Liu mentioned he wanted to exchange popular brands with the U.S., believing Americans will enjoy superior Chinese brands. Liu recently agreed to buy Walmart’s China operations and Walmart bought a stake in JD.
China’s nationwide TV network recognized Liu Quingdong as the prestigious 2011 China Economic Person of the Year. He was also named Fortune China’s 2012 Chinese Businessman. Liu also made Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders list. He frequently speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos on the future of retail and business development.
JD practices corporate social responsibility with sustainability initiatives. The e-commerce giant partnered with the Worldwide Fund for Nature to show their support for the Earth Hour environmental movement. Earth Hour asks individuals and businesses in 187 countries to shut off unnecessary lights at the same time for 60 minutes. JD also will utilize its vast logistics network that covers 99 percent of China’s population to pick up unwanted clothing for recycling or to give to the needy. Liu knows that with 300 million customers, JD.com is in the ideal position to promote sustainable consumption and other environmental initiatives.
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