May 29, 2020|
Carol Fung: “Queen” of FMCG at JD.com
by Rachel Liu
It is 9 o’clock in the morning, and in one of the many meeting rooms at JD’s Beijing headquarters, a daily meeting is in session. The room is crowded with people with notebooks, and everyone is focusing on an elegant woman sitting at the end of the table.
She has well-groomed curly hair. When speaking, she sounds very gentle and firm. She is listening to different team members reporting on the performance of the business, and when she sees a problem, no matter how small, points out immediately and digs out the reason behind it; and when a team performs well, she gives an encouraging smile and remind other teams to learn from them.
This is Carol Fung, the head of JD’s newly formed FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) Omnichannel business group. Before the internal meeting, she has arrived in the office at 7:30 am to review the business of previous day and attend the executive meeting. This is how has started her day at JD every day for the past over 6 years.
“Queen” of FMCG
During her time spent at JD, she has led JD FMCG to build the largest online or offline supermarket in China – JD Super, which has become the No.1 online or offline retailer for infant formula and diapers, milk and beer, and other categories. In 2017, annual sales of JD FMCG surpassed RMB 100 billion yuan and has continued to grow steadily since then. During COVID-19, she also led JD FMCG to provide much needed daily necessities in time to customers across China: From Jan. 20th – Feb. 28th, JD supplied 120,000 tons of rice and flour , over 20 million bags of instant noodles, nearly 50 million liters of cooking oil, million bottles of disinfectants and 160 million bags of tissues. In JD’s annual celebration of outstanding talents in 2019, she also received the “Outstanding Contributor” award from a company-wide vote.
Fung has over 20 years of experience in the retail industry, including 12 years of experience at Walmart China. In her role as VP of Walmart China, she managed multiple categories in the merchandising department, from clothing, home furniture, fresh food to home appliances, and played a significant role in Walmart China’s growth from just nine stores to becoming the largest offline retailer in China. Then she became the VP of Tencent e-commerce and led the successful integration between e-commerce and the largest messaging app in China, WeChat. However, in all of her rich experience throughout her career, it is the year 2019 that has made her proudest.
Fung at World Economic Forum 2020
Leading the innovation of the industry
In 2019, the sales and profit JD’s FMCG team achieved both exceeded the company’s expectations. But for Fung, this is far from enough, and not what makes her proudest. “My goal is never just to break a sales record,” Fung says, “but to lead the innovation of the FMCG industry around the world.” In 2019, she launched JD’s industry-leading supply chain innovation program, Omnichannel Fulfillment, which is the first of its kind globally. The program expands JD’s extensive supply chain network, by integrating multiple types of offline channels, including supermarkets, convenience stores, some brands’ offline stores, and JDDJ (JD Daojia), China’s leading crowdsourced delivery company. When customers buy a product on JD which is also available through one of the offline channels, JD’s system will analyze and determine the most efficient source for the inventory, whether it is the JD warehouse or an offline channel. If an offline channel is chosen, the product will be packed and delivered to the consumer.
The program is based on JD’s highly advanced and successful inventory integration project with Walmart, where Fung herself worked for 12 years. Since the program can effectively improve the turnover rate for offline partners, it has also attracted many world-leading partners, including Coca-Cola, Unilever, and Chinese beverage brands Nongfu Spring and C’est bon. JD and JDDJ also deepened the cooperation to shorten delivery time to just one hour. “The program has improved the efficiency of the supply chain by leveraging offline resources. It has saved over 20% of the brands’ supply chain costs, and 30% of JD’s. We also enabled faster delivery to our customers. It is beneficial to all parties in the program, and I believe this is the true value of the program,” Fung said.
Another of Fung’s goals is to make JD Super into a powerful brand – the first stop for the everyday needs of consumers across China. JD started its business from electronic products, and has consistently been the first choice for Chinese consumers to buy electronics. Fung believes daily necessities is next in line. In 2019, JD Super has completed a brand upgrade and launched the new slogan “Always authentic, Always affordable”, which indicates its determination to provide products with the highest quality and most competitive price. It has also put forward its new “TOUCH” strategy which focuses on Targeted customer operation, Omnichannel solutions, Unique products, Competitive prices and Holistic marketing. During COVID-19, the ability of JD Super to continuously support the demand of Chinese people has been recognized by consumers and brand partners. “Customers have formed the habit to buy daily necessities online and on JD,” said Fung: “We believe this habit will continue even after the virus.”
A team to be proud of
No achievement can be made without an outstanding team. “What I am most proud of for my team is that they always do the best in all aspects and aim for outstanding performance.” Fung said. Her team is known for having great passion and confidence. This is also a key characteristic of Fung herself. Although she has an elegant appearance, Fung is very tough on the inside. Born into a military family in Shenyang, she was taught to strive to do her best all the time. “I always tell my team: we may not win every time, but we have to do our utmost every time.” Fung said: “Our past was not always smooth, but our team has always been positive that we can get through the difficulties. We do not find excuses for ourselves, but rather simply do our best.”
Being the navigator of the team, Fung’s diligence and confidence has made her the role model for her team. She often needs to fly between Macau and Beijing on weekends to meet her family, including two lovely children who are primarily taken care of by her husband, something Fung really appreciates. Still, she is the first to arrive in the office every day to check the sales performance of the previous day. “Our work is very intense and pressure is high,” Fung says:” Every day the sales data will show you if you did well. You have to keep surpassing yourself and being innovative to achieve better performance.” She never allows the pressure to discourage her team. “We simply think, if we can’t do it, no one else can either.”
Fung believes that only when the whole team are clear about the goal and work together, can they make great achievements. It’s not easy for a team of over 700 people. However, she insists to hold a daily meeting and weekly meeting, as well as a meeting for the whole team every half year to communicate the strategy and goal of the business. She also believes that the team should have an open spirit to learn from each other and trust each other. Every day at the daily meeting, she encourages team members to share their good ideas or successful cases, so the team can grow together. Under her leadership, the FMCG team won the “Best Team of JD” award in 2019.
Fung and her core team members
Fung’s team has also become most popular team among JD’s management trainees, and she is proud to see the growth of the young employees. In 2019, the proportion of post-1990s in mid-level management roles on her team increased 23% as compared with 2018, and in key management roles, the proportion of post-1985s increased 7%, post-1990s increased 11%. Fung likes the passion that the young employees show. Their full dedication of their work has moved the whole team and brand partners, especially during big sales promotions. The young employees can learn things quickly, and better deal with pressure. Fung finds that whenever there is an open position, she sees people on her team grow into the role in just a few months. “I am confident that I will always have enough talent on my team, especially given our growing number of young leaders we have.”” Fung says. “Cultivating young talent will be my priority in 2020.”
This year marks Fung’s seventh year at JD. Looking back, she feels gratitude to JD for providing her a platform to make achievements in the industry, and to her team for their support and hard work. Now, she is ready to her new role and take on new responsibilities. The FMCG Omnichannel team integrates the FMCG team, 7Fresh, new markets and Yihaodian, covering the online and offline business meeting customers’ daily needs. The new team provides Fung more opportunities and resources to make industry-leading innovations.
For Fung, her vision for the future is to build the most powerful omnichannel supermarket in China, and even in the whole world. She dreams of enabling Chinese customers to buy anything they need anywhere and anytime. To achieve this, she will lead her team to focus on building a strong supply chain that can always provide the most suitable and affordable products to customers, and optimize supply chain efficiency between online and offline. The upcoming 618 Grand Promotion will also be the first big one that her new team faces. Fung is ready to make history again, and provide a fully upgraded shopping experience for JD’s over 380 million customers.