Jul 28, 2020|

In-Depth: JD CENTRAL Solutions Enable Offline Retail in Thailand


by Martin Li

While JD CENTRAL has received wide recognition as an online platform for authentic products in Thailand, an increasing number of offline retailers and brands share that same sentiment as they explore an online transformation.

JD CENTRAL is the e-commerce joint venture between China’s largest retailer JD.com and Thailand’s retail conglomerate Central Group. The venture launched in 2018 and is a combination of direct-to-consumer and marketplace businesses.

There are approximately 40 small-and-medium enterprises that use the e-commerce services provided by JD CENTRAL, including product listing, data analysis, marketing, store design, customer service, etc..

The COVID-19 outbreak has taken its toll on traditional or offline businesses, which triggered the Thai government to launch measures to support them by involving online players like JD CENTRAL.

JD CENTRAL has been actively using its platform, technologies and services to help offline businesses, including joining a national campaign to support farmers and an online trade fair to help offline business expand online channels.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has not only encouraged consumers in Thailand to move online, but also pushed offline retailers to embark on an omnichannel transformation,” said Shen Cai Ying, who is in charge of O2O business of JD CENTRAL.


Central Group plus JD solutions

When you open JD Central’s e-commerce app or visit its website https://www.jd.co.th/, you will find a variety of products sold in offline subsidiaries of Central Group, including Powerbuy, Tops Online, Officemate, Robinson, Super Sports, B2S, Baan&Beyon and Thai Watsadu. These offline businesses have their flagship stores on JDC and operate their online businesses on the platform.

Besides an online presence, an increasing number Central group members are utilizing the diversified services provided by JD CENTRAL.

Screenshot of Central Group retailers and brands on JD CENTRAL app

Screenshot of Central Group retailers and brands on JD CENTRAL app

There are 59 Central Group sellers on the platform of JD CENTRAL, including franchised brands and retailers. Among them, eight are using the data analytics service, two are using the listing service, and another two are using the customer service

These service users include Dyson, Casio, Hush Puppies, Tops, Super Sports and Power Buy.

Based on JD CENTRAL data, retailers who choose to use certain online services have seen an improvement in online performance, including in their response rate to online consultation, satisfaction rate and store growth.

After adopting certain online services of JD CETRAL, brands and retailers witnessed a growth in satisfaction rate of over 90%. The response rate to online consultations grew by 30% even when the number of consultations increased considerably due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Central World shopping mall in central Bangkok, Thailand

Central World shopping mall in central Bangkok, Thailand

In early July, JD CENTRAL joined the project titled “Central Group Tarad Ruam Jai, Thai Chuay Thai” (Unity Market for Thais), which is aimed at creating and expanding online-to-offline (O2O) distribution channels in Thailand.

On JD CENTRAL, four stores are taking part in an event associated with the project to increase their sales channels for consumers who would like to support and buy locally-made products.

Launch ceremony of Central Group’s Unity Market for Thais project

Launch ceremony of Central Group’s Unity Market for Thais project

 “There are three stages for our O2O enablement for Central Group. The first stage involves offline subsidiaries opening stores on JD CENTRAL and operating them by themselves. The second stage features curated services for those who don’t have the experience but want to leverage online channels. For the third stage, we will help offline shopping malls and department stores achieve digitalization. For example, in the future, we could help shopping malls develop an app, connect its retail stores to it and drive new business,” said Shen.

Currently, both stage one and two have helped business grow, even though the latter launched just a few months ago in April.


Global sellers and SMEs enabled

According to Vincent Yang, CEO of JD Central, the team will use its experiences helping retailers move online to continue to better serve small-and-medium sized offline businesses throughout Thailand.

Currently, there are seven SME’s that are utilizing JD Central’s services.

Compared with the larger companies, SMEs are particularly vulnerable to a public health crisis like the COVID-19.

To help overcome those challenges, JD CENTRAL joined an initiative launched by Thai Ministry of Commerce and will promote Thai fruit on its e-commerce platform, providing new sellers with benefits including commission waiver, free design service for virtual stores and free live chat customer service.

In addition, there are 14 global sellers who are using the services of JD Central. To ensure product descriptions are accurate, JD Central provides translation service to global sellers, which have resulted in significant viewing traffic growth.


Looking ahead

JD CENTRAL’s effort to enable digitalization of offline retail business echoes the national agenda set forth called Thailand 4.0, which encourages digital transformation of traditional industry.

“In Thailand, many large enterprises have their own massive enterprise resource planning systems (ERP). However, these ERP systems are designed for traditional offline retail scenario, which don’t apply to online scenarios,” said CEO Yang.

“JD Central is the only company in Thailand capable of providing the most complete, efficient and cost-effective integrated e-commerce solution to offline enterprises, no matter if they are big or small,” he added.

According to Yang, enterprises without e-commerce capability can choose direct-to-consumer platform. Those which do have e-commerce, can use the marketplace platform, where JD Central provides services including product launch, marketing, payment, warehousing, logistics and fulfillment. For those with an offline presence, JD Central can provide O2O solutions.

In Yang’s eyes, JD Central wants to empower companies and aspires to become the platform on which offline retail businesses can be enabled digitally and consumers can buy the best value products.