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Technology

Hong Kong-listed developer to provide space for hundreds of JD.com unmanned stores in China

The online retailer has been testing the concept at its headquarters in Beijing

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 9:24pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 9:24pm

Online retailer JD.com announced on Thursday that it would partner with property developer China Overseas Land & Investment to open hundreds of unmanned convenience stores across the country.

The space for the new stores across the mainland will be provided by the Hong Kong-listed builder, while JD.com will provide the technology and support to operate the stores, leveraging its expertise in supply chain and logistics, according to a statement from the company.

The company did not provide details.

JD.com has been testing two unmanned stores at its headquarters in Beijing since October integrating various smart technologies such as radio frequency identification, facial recognition and image recognition.

The retailer said the stores have seen average daily customer flow of about 1,000 and a repeat purchasing rate of about 70 per cent since the tests began.

JD.com’s collaboration with China Overseas Land & Investment in unmanned stores is a part of the property company’s smart city solution, which will also integrate an automated pharmacy – a vending machine that can hold up to 1,500 boxes of medicines and features smart inventory replenishment that will make use of JD.com’s smart supply chain.

China embraces Amazon’s unmanned store concept as part of country’s efforts to redefine retail experience

The idea of unmanned stores first caught global attention in December last year when the largest US online retailer Amazon announced its cashier-less Amazon Go store.

China tech companies, including e-commerce firms Alibaba Group Holdings, the owner of South China Morning Post, have announced plans for their own unmanned stores.

In July, Alibaba unveiled its Tao Cafe unmanned shop concept, which makes use of facial recognition and mobile payment technology.

In addition to China’s tech giants, some start-ups such as BingoBox and DeepBlue believe unmanned stores are the future of retail.

However, technology for a true grab-and-go experience in a store such as a supermarket is challenging to achieve. Current technology allows is adequate for only one person or just a few people shopping simultaneously.