JD Seeks to Rival Alibaba in Southeast Asia; CEO Plans Drone Delivery
China's second-largest online retailer is looking to expand into Thailand this year, to be followed by Vietnam and Malaysia. The company faces fierce competition from Southeast Asia's biggest e-commerce platform owned by Alibaba Group.
China's second-largest e-commerce platform, JD.com Inc. (Nasdaq: JD), is eyeing Southeast Asia markets in its expansion plans and expects to begin a push into Thailand this year, with Vietnam and Malaysia likely to follow.
"Thailand will come soon, before the end of the year," Richard Liu, founder and chief executive of the company told Reuters. "We will invest a lot and also find the best local partners to work together with. Everyone could be possible, but not Lazada," Liu said.
Lazada Group, the largest Southeast Asian online retailer, is controlled by Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: BABA), the Chinese e-commerce giant and JD's rival.
Liu said he was confident his firm could compete with Alibaba in that market.
Amid intense competition, JD has expanded into fast-moving consumer goods, including household supplies, food, and drink. The company has diversified into data, cloud, and artificial intelligence services, and is developing drone delivery.
The company has also said it is planning to build a network of launch pads for drones to deliver products in the mountainous Sichuan region, where vehicle deliveries cost more and take longer. In April, Liu told the D.Live Asia technology conference in Hong Kong that he aimed to eventually operate 1 million drones and turn drone delivery into a multibillion-dollar business.
Liu did not disclose how much JD would invest in Thailand, but said it would likely be less than his firm was investing in Indonesia, which accounts for almost all its overseas business.
The stock of JD closed at $41.47 per American depositary share Tuesday, up nearly 5 percent.
(Reuters contributed to this article)