JD.com to receive $550m investment from Google

Chinese retail group JD.com is working with technology titan Google to explore ways they can co-develop retail solutions to help personalise and improve shopping experiences.

The collaboration covers several regions including south-east Asia, the US and Europe, and will see Google invest $550 million in JD.com.

A joint statement from the businesses indicated that both companies brought different strengths to the partnership, namely JD’s supply chain and logistics expertise – highlighted in Essential Retail’s coverage from its recent trip to visit JD.com in China – and Google’s technology prowess.

Between them, they aim to create “next generation retail infrastructure solutions, with the goal of offering helpful, personalised and frictionless shopping experiences”, according to the statement. It is unclear the exact nature of these solutions, but there is a growing trend in global retail to create in-store experiences that do not require customers to interact with cashiers, for example Amazon Go in Seattle, certain Alibaba stores in China, and some of JD’s existing network of shops.

As part of the arrangement, JD plans to make a selection of products available for sale through Google Shopping in multiple regions.

JD.com chief strategy officer, Jianwen Liao, said: “This partnership with Google opens up a broad range of possibilities to offer a superior retail experience to consumers throughout the world.

“This marks an important step in the process of modernising global retail. As we celebrate our June 18 anniversary sale, this partnership opens a new chapter in our history.”

The agreement will see Google receive 27,106,948 newly issued JD.com Class A ordinary shares at an issue price of $20.29 per share.

Google and JD working together is part of a wider trend for large technology conglomerates to team up with retailers. Google itself announced a strategic collaboration with Carrefour last week, while Reuters reported last week that Microsoft is looking at ways it can develop checkout-less stores with Walmart.