Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com gives the starting signal for its European expansion: in the Dutch province of Limburg, the logistics specialist opens a distribution centre of 18,000 square metres. It will also have an office.
Robots and self-driving trolleys
The decision is made: JD.com has signed a contract to rent a distribution centre of 18,000 square metres in Venray, in the south of the Netherlands. Besides being used as a warehouse, about 350 square metres of the space will also be used for offices. Earlier, there was talk of a distribution centre in France or the port of Zeebrugge as a logistics hub, but the choice has now been made for the Netherlands.
JD.com, which stands out as the third largest e-commerce player in China with highly automated logistics, will also use self-driving vehicles and robots in Venray to collect goods and support staff. This is reported by Ecommerce News.
Also supermarkets on the way
JD.com has been trying to enter Europe for years, but it has not done so without a struggle. In 2018, the e-commerce giant was very close to opening an office in Germany, but later that year a rape scandal and rising costs forced the company into a hefty restructuring. The internet giant lost more than 40% of its stock market valuation and its profitability, putting its European plans on hold.
Now, the Chinese giant is ready for a new attack, which seems to be mainly aimed at the supermarket segment. Vacancies reveal that JD.com also has concrete plans to open physical supermarkets, particularly in Amsterdam. The Chinese are looking for people with experience in fresh food, who want to help develop a real store network. The combination with e-commerce also appears to be a priority.
Attack on Amazon
In China, JD.com is active in the food market with 7Fresh, a supermarket concept in the premium segment that stands out for its technological gadgets and catering offer. There are often fresh kitchens on site, while self-driving shopping carts and personalised product suggestions help the customer while shopping. In Chinese metropolitan tradition, groceries are also delivered free of charge within a three-kilometre radius.
Will JD.com now bring this concept to Europe? Top man Richard Liu has already let it be known that he intends to serve the local market as well, even with local products. On the e-commerce front, the intention is to compete with Amazon and Alibaba. "The more competition, the better for consumers and producers," says Liu.