When you hear ‘e-commerce in China’ you’ll probably ‘Alibaba,’ but another company is making progress to challenge the assumption that $450-billion company is China’s only online retail giant. JD.com, the nearest e-commerce competitor to Alibaba in China, has reported its first year of profitability as a public company.
The Beijing-headquartered company was founded in 1998 and it went public on the Nasdaq nearly four years ago. For its fiscal 2017, it posted a slim RMB 116.8 million $18.0 million profit on total revenue of RMB 362.3 billion ($55.7 billion). That’s a 40.3 percent increase on 2016’s revenue, which resulted in a RMB 2.0 billion for the year.
The company’s fiscal profit was helped by a surprise $35 million profit in Q1 and a lucrative Q3 quarter in which it posted a RMB 1 billion ($151 million) profit thanks to its own efforts on Single’s Day, China’s online shopping bonanza. The company posted a RMB 909.2 million (US$139.7 million) loss for Q4, but that marked a 28 percent decrease year-on-year.
While Alibaba has a higher profile — with enormously profitable quarters — JD.com has quietly built out its e-commerce by expanding into financial services, offline retail and more.
That’s included investments in its own fresh food brand 7FRESH, a grocery service called New Dada and retail group Better Life alongside ally Tencent. It also raised outside money for its financial services business and logistics unit to give them a more startup-like feel.
JD.com and Tencent also invested in Vipshop and Indonesia-based Uber rival Go-Jek, while JD.com did other deals in Southeast Asia including investments in fashion site Pomelo, Vietnam-based marketplace Tiki and a new joint financial services venture in Thailand. The firm also branched out into the startup world with a blockchain-focused accelerator program and a joint program in Silicon Valley with Play and Play.