Chinese online retailer JD was outmanoeuvred by its arch rival Alibaba this week, over its commitment to importing goods for China’s growing middle class.
Alibaba stole the headlines with a commitment to import US$200 billion of goods into China during the next five years. Most mainstream and trade media missed the fact that JD made a similar pledge, albeit of just half the value, $100 billion, at the same event, the first ever China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai.
The figures are relative, however: Alibaba boasts more than 600 million Chinese consumers on its sites, JD more than 300 million. Both companies are aware that middle-class Chinese have more disposable income and they want to spend a significant share of it on imported goods.
“Last year, the number of users purchasing products from overseas brands grew by 37.1 per cent compared to 2016,” said JD in a statement. “The volume of imported goods this year to date has already skyrocketed 150 per cent as compared with two years ago.”