How does the CEO of China’s second largest e-commerce company feel about the escalating U.S.-China trade war?
Richard Liu, founder and CEO of JD.com—an online retailer with 300 million annual active customers, $56 billion in revenues in 2017, and investors including Tencent, Walmart, and Google —doesn’t like it. But he’s not worried either.
“I can tell you it’s okay, “ Liu said, speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen on July 16. If his customers think the price of American goods has become too high, JD.com can find products, whether it be meat, apparel, or some other item, from Europe or Japan or Korea (among other places) to sell to them instead. “We can find another choice,” he said, adding that he didn’t think the trade war would benefit either party.
Whatever the case, Liu noted that consumer experience—which comes down to quality, price, and service—remains JD.com’s top priority. It’s that focus that motivated his company’s early and significant investment in drone delivery; it currently uses a daily fleet of 500 drones that has over 100,00 hours of flying time.
Whatever the product (so long as it costs at least roughly $10) and wherever the customer, JD.com delivers it for free and in less than 24 hours. Competing in Chinese retail—and against its chief rival Alibaba—without that sort of service, said Liu, would be a “disaster.” Liu hinted that Amazon may be struggling to achieve that speed in China.
JD.com, which thrives partly because of “shopping circles”—social media-enhanced shopping—on China’s leading social platform WeChat, plans to enter the American retail market soon.