JD.com is a Chinese E-commerce company founded in 1998 by Richard Liu. Since it was founded, it has had many different milestones, including being listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2007. JD is one of China’s largest e-commerce companies, with an annual gross merchandise volume of more than $50 billion as of 2017.
The company kicked off its annual 6.18 Grand Promotion, a promotional campaign that runs from January 1 to February 18 and in which the company encourages customers to purchase goods through responsible means. The promotion promotes conscious shopping and includes online ads and offline promotions like giving out coupons at train stations across China.
CMU Professor David Zweig discusses what it means for JD Corp’s 6.18 promotion to advocate a responsible supply chain: “JD’s annual 6.18 campaign seems to rationalize its strategy in the sustainable sourcing business. For example, they have bought certified suppliers as ‘sustainable’ or ‘triple-sustainable.’ They claim this criterion is more rigorous and, therefore, more trustworthy. I find it very difficult to take anybody seriously when touting ‘triple-sustainable.’ If we could become more rigorous about our thinking and quality standards, perhaps we would have less of the bad stuff.
JD also has a program to help ‘farmers in poverty where they bring in a team of experts who work with each of the farmers to improve the farm. JD takes responsibility for buying the produce from them, but only if their farm is certified as sustainable. They say that they have helped 10,000 farmers. So the 6.18 promotion seems to rationalize their efforts— they are employing more people, helping out the rural economy, and even improving farmer livelihoods. The only problem is that the standard seems to apply to the very top of the supply chain.”
“On 6.18, the company is preoccupied with its sustainability efforts, with social responsibility being a core part of the marketing campaign. The website says that JD is building a ‘better tomorrow’ and wants to help companies develop their social responsibility to ‘re-invigorate’ their businesses.”
“In addition, JD’s annual promotion has a significant impact on how Chinese consumers shop online. Having worked for two years leading content at JD for US editions of JD.com, I can attest that a lot of people are drawn in by the big names on the site—for instance, it’s hard to make any significant amount of money from partnering with a company if there is no corresponding status within the company.”
The promotion has spread across the country and reached the neighboring nation of Vietnam, with JD advertising its sales in Vietnam to boost business. The Vietnamese government is working alongside JD to promote e-commerce to improve farming operations and training in agriculture.
Richard Liu, JD’s founder, created JD.com‘s annual promotional campaign after he witnessed a man on a building top trying to jump off on New Year’s Eve, which resulted in him being arrested for suicide. Liu, who believes that money is not essential in life and that people should be more generous, decided to do something to help others.
His company has been involved in many philanthropic efforts, working with charities and independently to help out communities across China, including donating several million dollars towards disaster relief and setting up a charity foundation. JD has also been involved in helping out the ailing herring industry by planting more than four million larvae in six Lake Dongting sites in Shandong province, which will help improve the environment and provide enough food for the next five years.