Industry analysts reported earlier this year that European luxury brands in China could be doing more to cater to online shoppers. JD.com is aiming to pick up some of that slack with its new “white glove” delivery service.
The company announced this week that it would begin offering a delivery service where couriers in suits and white gloves bring customers their purchases in electric cars instead of on scooters. China is known for its scooter and three-wheeled cart-driving couriers, which, by the latest estimates, number around 1.2 million.
JD’s newest delivery option is available for shoppers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, but the company expects to further expand in the future as demand for a luxurious online shopping experience spreads from China’s first-tier cities.
“We are pushing the envelope because we understand that when it comes to the extension of luxury to online, existing delivery services don’t cut it,” President of JD Fashion Xia Ding said in a statement. “This is just one step JD is taking to strengthen our partnerships with the world’s top luxury brands. We will continue to create new, exciting ways for customers to make luxury purchases, bridging the gap that still persists between online and offline luxury experiences.”
Exane BNP Paribas’s report released in the beginning of this year tracked 10 different brands selling luxury goods through online channels in China and found some companies were failing to adapt their Western e-commerce operations to Chinese consumer tastes. For example, China’s online shoppers often expect two-day delivery, something which some brands don’t have the logistics to do unless they work with an e-commerce platform. The study also looked at whether brands were going above and beyond in packaging their items by personalizing purchases with a note or including a QR code on the box.
The white glove service will be automatically included for smaller high-end purchases, such as watches and jewelry, with one or two-day delivery. Fashion is not currently an option under the service, but will likely be later this year.
JD.com, whose major competitor in China is Alibaba’s Tmall, is hoping to speed up growth by expanding its services for China’s growing number of luxury shoppers who are buying products online, and that includes diversifying its product offerings. Currently, JD’s founder and chief executive Richard Liu is in London on a “shopping trip” with the goal to bring more UK brands to China through its cross-border e-commerce platform, JD Worldwide.
Liu told the Independent in a recent interview that he has plans to open an office in the UK to complement the one JD already has in Paris. “Regardless of Brexit, we see huge opportunity to do more business with the UK and we hope this will speed up,” he said, adding that he believes the Chinese consumer is looking for “high value-added quality.”