Beijing-based e-commerce giant JD.com is expanding its drone delivery network outside of China and into Southeast Asia. This week, the company said it completed the first government-approved delivery-drone test flight in Indonesia.
Harlan Bratcher, Global Business Development Head and JD Fashion for JD.com said at NRF 2019, “We are the biggest retail logistics provider in the world.” Bratcher added that JD.com has more than 100 drone bases and 7,000 delivery centers in China, as well as a growing army of autonomous delivery vehicles. JD.com has struck a partnership with Google Shopping targeting the U.S. consumer market. Google bought a $550 million stake in JD.com in 2018.
JD.com is a big believer in Indonesia, having launched its local JD.ID service back in 2015 and since backed local ride-hailing giant Go-Jek and is now sampling advanced tech in the country. JD.com completed its first government approved drone delivery in Indonesia in early January. The test flight took place on January 8 in West Java, where the drone flew from Jagabita Village, Parung Panjang to MIS Nurul Falah Leles Elementary School to deliver backpacks and books to students.
The village can be difficult to reach by truck because of the condition of local roads. The items delivered by drone were part of a larger donation of supplies from JD.com to the school.
“Given the fact that the country is spread out across many islands,” the retailer said, “The implementation of drones for regular use in e-commerce deliveries, as well as other logistics-related services, will enable citizens in Indonesia to enjoy more efficient and reliable services.”
According to TechCrunch the company recently gained a regional operating license to fly drones in China. TechCrunch also reported that other JD.com logistics and delivery innovations include self-driving trucks, automated warehouses and unmanned physical stores. Highlighting its unique feature Bratcher said JD.com is hyper-focused on its “2/11 Promise,” meaning any order placed before 11 a.m. is guaranteed to arrive before 11 p.m. the same day. “That promise is accurate 90% of the time,” Bratcher said.
JD.ID claims more than 20 million registered users in Indonesia and a catalogue of more than one million products. The challenge will be managing logistics given its spread across 10 warehouses that span seven islands, which cover 483 cities and 6,500 counties. JD.com said the pilot project opens the door for future commercial drone use in Indonesia and the Southeast Asia region, subject to further regulatory approvals. Jon Liao, Chief Strategy Officer at JD.com said, “JD.ID is also committed leveraging its logistics and other resources to support humanitarian efforts like earthquake disaster relief.”
In China JD.com also offers a white glove delivery option for bulkier items, JD Luxury Express, to top-tier cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu, in less than two hours. It is a white glove service literally with delivery personnel coming to residences in a black suit with white gloves and rolling up in a black car.