36 companies and 30 more industry representatives welcome JD.COM to Vancouver
Last Friday, the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) welcomed a delegation of JD.COM officials, facilitating business-to-business meetings between the Chinese e-commerce giant and dozens of Canadian retailers and suppliers.
Among those assembled in the Vancouver Economic Commission’s presentation centre were representatives from local and national companies, including Air Canada, Herschel Supply Co, Whistler Water and MuseFind, and from the Embassy of Canada.
The visit was organized by the Vancouver Economic Commission’s Asia Pacific Centre (APC) team as part of their ongoing work leveraging the connectivity between Vancouver businesses and China, Japan, Korea and other markets in the Asia Pacific.
“We are delighted to introduce JD.COM, one of the world’s largest e-ecommerce companies, to our local clients,” said Joan Elangovan, Director of the Asia Pacific Centre. “Canadian products have a reputation for their innovation and quality. We see this visit by JD.COM as the next step in helping more local companies meet the demand of the world’s largest consumer market in Asia, and beyond.”
JD.COM is noted for the sheer size of its platform, which services hundreds of millions of customers in the world’s largest e-commerce market. As such, the companies who participated in the forum on Friday saw this as a golden opportunity. Herbert He, CEO of Whistler Water Inc. commented, “JD.COM is a must-go for anyone who wishes to crack China’s consumer market, and [the event] was very well conducted.”
Canadian Brand enables Guanxi – the relationships (and trust) vital to doing business in China
As each member of the JD.COM delegation took the podium, they were frank with their appreciation for Canada’s brand. Corporate Vice President Jerome Ma assured the assembled representatives and companies that this brand was an enormous contributor to the trust Chinese customers demonstrate in the quality of Canadian products.
Another common theme of the day was guanxi – which can be roughly understood to be a combination of the networks, integrity and trust that facilitate building relationships in China. As Ma highlighted the opportunity of partnering with JD.COM, he stressed the values that Chinese consumers seek in retailers: convenience, honesty and authenticity.
“There are a lot of ways to be successful in China, but will you be ethical?” he said frankly to the room of gathered business people. “Unlike some of our competitors, our company has zero tolerance for fakes. . . at the end of the day, [if you sell fakes in China] the customer is going to dump you because you do not have their respect.”
Quick Takeaways of the Day
- Chinese market indicates appetite and appreciation for Canadian products. In China, the maple leaf carries a certain cachet because Canadians are perceived as being humble, honest and quietly capable. This association with of modesty, integrity and quality gives Canadian products an easy leg up over some from other countries because they are trust-building.
- JD.COM represents a golden opportunity for Canadian businesses. JD.COM’s ascribed and aspired values are modesty, honesty and quality—qualities they see reflected in the Canadian brand. Canadian businesses are well-positioned to take advantage of this compatibility with one of the largest e-commerce and offline retailers in the world.
- Chinese consumers are ready for Canadian products, but are Canadian businesses ready for China? Canadian businesses need to be prepared to serve an enormous – and impatient – market. Chinese consumers are accustomed to convenience when shopping, the least of which is swift (and inexpensive or free) shipping and well-stocked shelves.
JD.COM – also known as Jingdong – has the largest fulfillment infrastructure of any e-commerce company in China. As of March 31, 2017, JD.COM operated 7 fulfillment centers and 263 warehouses covering 2,672 counties and districts across China. JD.COM is a member of the NASDAQ100 and a Fortune Global 500 company.
By revenue, JD.COM is the third largest retailer in the world, behind only Amazon and Google. As of March 2017, there were approximately 236.5 million registered customer accounts on the JD.COM platform.
A final fun fact—the 13-year-old company’s average employee age is currently 25. This showed in the young energy and enthusiasm pervading the event.
Read More about the Asia Pacific Centre
- More on APC’s work in (and with) other markets: The VEC and the Korean Business Community
- More on Canada–China business: New Companies and Renewed Agreements Launched, Signed against Backdrop of 4th Annual Canada–China Business Forum
- More on guanxi: Debunking the Myth that Trade Missions Add Little Economic Value