JD Central – the new joint venture between Chinese online specialist JD and Thailand’s Central Group – has revealed plans to open automated stores, starting next year in Bangkok.
Vincent Yang, JD Central’s CEO, said the company is evaluating a location where it could test an unmanned store format. Customers would enter the store and transact using facial recognition software.
The move would be one of several initiatives the company is evaluating using new-generation technology. Another is the use of autonomous warehouse robots to replace humans in warehouses to reduce overheads.
“We need to get approval to use robots and autonomous delivery vehicles in Thailand,” Yang said.
Speaking after the official launch of JD Central, which has been operating in pre-launch mode for three months, Yang said the company plans to be Thailand’s largest online retailer by 2020.
“E-commerce in Thailand will increase to 10 per cent of the total retail market in three years, up from 3-5 per cent today, thanks to competition and user experience,” he said.
During the three-month trial, orders on the new platform increased 15-fold. Yang claims just 2 per cent of orders were returned and there was a 50 per cent repurchase rate by customers. Four out of every five customers accessed the site via mobile.
JD Central offers products from 4000 brands, the most popular to date being mobile phones, food, home accessories and apparel.
The company also has a strong focus on authenticity, guaranteeing no fake goods are on sale on its platform.
“We are positioned to be the most trusted online platform brand by focusing on customer experience with authentic products. If customers find any fake products on our website, they will be refunded three times the original price,” he said.