JD Central plans automated shop

JD Central plans automated shop

E-commerce platform's official launch is today

Vincent Yang, CEO (Customer Experience Officer) of the Thai-Chinese JD.com venture, outlines his vision where e-commerce in Thailand will make up 10% of the total retail market by 2028. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)
Vincent Yang, CEO (Customer Experience Officer) of the Thai-Chinese JD.com venture, outlines his vision where e-commerce in Thailand will make up 10% of the total retail market by 2028. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)

JD Central plans to open an automated retail store in Bangkok in 2019, aiming to be the market leader of online retail in Thailand by 2020.

The move cements JD Central's retail competitiveness and could trigger an e-commerce war in Thailand, as the firm offers merchants commission-free service.

"E-commerce in Thailand will increase to 10% of the total retail market in three years, up from 3-5% today, thanks to competition and user experience," said Vincent Yang, chief executive of JD Central, the joint venture between Chinese internet giant JD.com and Thailand's largest retail firm, Central Group.

The joint venture will officially launch today on www.jd.co.th, one year after JD.com announced the collaboration.

Mr Yang said that after three months of operations, JD Central's online orders have increased 15 times, with 80% of customers accessing it via mobile platform.

Orders have been placed by customers from every province, and products were rated 100% authentic. JD Central was ranked as third in brand awareness among customers by BrandAge, a marketing and brand media.

JD Central has had 2% of products returned and a 50% repurchase rate, with the fastest delivery service in the business at four hours and an average of four purchases with each order.

There are 4,000 brands in stock. The most popular product categories are mobile phones, food, home accessories and fashion.

The company has two warehouses in Bangkok and expects to increase to five warehouses by the end of the year.

JD Central plans to deploy autonomous warehouse robots to replace manpower and substantially cut overhead costs. The robots will enable the company to maximise existing space by 500%.

"We need to get approval to use robots and autonomous delivery vehicles in Thailand," Mr Yang said.

The firm offers next-day delivery service, but by embracing advanced technology it can offer same-day delivery throughout Bangkok and surrounding areas, covering 25 million prospective customers by 2019.

Mr Yang said the company is also considering a location to operate an unmanned physical retail shop in Bangkok that would be based on facial recognition software.

Having started with 16 employees, JD Central now has 1,000, 98% of whom are Thai. About 600 work in logistics and delivery.

"We are positioned to be the most trusted online platform brand by focusing on customer experience with authentic products," Mr Yang said. "If customers find any fake products on our website, they will be refunded three times the original price."

The platform features both direct sales of products to consumers and an e-marketplace for online merchants with zero commission fee.

Mr Yang said the company is also sourcing products from Thailand such as latex pillows, snacks, cosmetics and durian to sell on JD Thailand's online flagship store on the JD.com platform for Chinese shoppers.

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