As 50,000 people apply each day to be franchisees, JD.com promises to open more than 1000 stores a day this year.
It started the journey last month, with founder/CEO Liu Qiangdong saying almost every store will be a franchise, according to local media reports.
The ambitious aim is a part of a plan the e-commerce announced 12 months ago, when Liu said it would open a million convenience stores in the next five years, half of them in rural areas. JD.com’s convenience stores are run by independent investors, and the company offers loans for potential franchisees.
“We receive 50,000 applications every day,” says Liu. “The applicants are mostly migrant workers who have returned to their villages or small towns. Jingdong Finance can provide them with loans to open stores. They can earn more than RMB8000 [US$1275] a month.”
The first batch of shops, 1111 of them, opened their doors on the same day in November.
Liu’s latest announcement comes a month after JD.com signed an agreement with convenience store group FamilyMart. This enables JD users to have food delivered to their homes from FamilyMart’s core locations in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu within 30 minutes at any time.
And in January, JD.com launched offline fresh-food supermarket 7Fresh, a 4000sqm store in Beijing that features “smart carts” that guide customers to the items they seek to buy.
JD’s first high-profile deal in the emerging O2O retail sector was its investment of RMB4.3 billion for a 10 per cent stake in Shanghai-listed supermarket chain Yonghui Superstores three years ago.
Meanwhile, JD.com is partnering with mainland retail conglomerate China Resources Vanguard in a deal to take Vanguard’s shops in Hangzhou and Nanjing to its O2O platform. Customers will be able to buy from Vanguard’s offline stores via JD Daojia, and the partnership will later extend to the brand’s 2000 retail stores in more than 30 major cities in China.
China Resources Vanguard, formerly China Vanguard Super Department, has more than 3000 retail stores in 200-plus cities and has revenues of RMB103.6 billion last year.
JD Daojia is a one-hour delivery service that partners with 100,000 local merchants and provides on-demand groceries, fresh produce, snacks, flowers and pharmacy needs in more than 30 cities. It has more than 50 million registered users and 20 million monthly active clients.
JD.com also signed a deal with Fung Retailing in Hong Kong in February.