In-depth Report: JD’s e-Sports: A Golden Bridge Connecting Customers and Manufacturers

In-depth Report: JD’s e-Sports: A Golden Bridge Connecting Customers and Manufacturers

by Ling Cao and Ella Kidron

When people are gaming on their cell phones, they process is easy. Go to the app, and play. The veteran gamers will gradually add all sorts of accessories to trick out their gaming devices, operating with more and more precision.

Nevertheless, very few people would come to think about what goes on behind the scenes of this rapidly developing industry. As an early mover in gaming laptops and phones, and as the force behind an award-winning e-sports team, JD has demonstrated how the gaming ecosystem is inseparable from a strong supply chain.

 

RMB 270 billion by 2022

According to an industry report, China’s e-sports market grows 10% annually and is expected to reach RMB 270 billion yuan by 2022. Furthermore, On Dec. 16, e-sports was declared an official event for the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

Globally, people have spent more time gaming while at home during COVID-19. China is no exception. JD data shows that the epidemic has promoted the growth of online gaming and more and more customers have bought game related products on JD in the past year.

When inventory was tight at the height of the outbreak, JD used its supply chain advantage to help merchants resolve their stock-out challenges. Going forward, the habits formed around gaming during COVID could be indicative of a long-term trend.

 

How JD got its start in e-sports

JD, which entered the consumer electronics category very early on, moved into the gaming space in 2014 with the first gaming laptop, the G150TB in collaboration with Haier’s high-end laptop brand Thunderbot, with the primary purpose of supporting hours of uninterrupted game time, rather than e-mail, surfing the internet, or even watching movies. In 2015, JD formed a Game+ department, starting with gaming hardware. Also in 2015, the company collaborated with HP to develop the OMEN series laptop. The project involved a deep analysis of JD’s consumer behavior data to determine the ideal specifications from screen size, to memory and more.

HP’s OMEN series laptop

Several years later, there came gaming phones. Finally, moving from being an observer and a facilitator of gamers and gaming to being a full-fledged participant, the company made the decision to operate its own e-sports teams. In the whole process, JD is connecting links from upstream to downstream, from manufacturer to customer.

 

A Bridge between JD and Players

According to Daniel Tan, president of JD Mobile Devices, “Games have become one of the best ways to relax and socialize for younger generations. They can also work as bridge to increase JD’s brand awareness, attracting gamers to search for gaming devices and equipment on JD.” He added, “By entering deeply into the e-sports industry, through efforts such as forming game teams, we gained more valuable feedback from users, which drove our Consumer-to-Manufacturer (C2M) product launch.”

Daniel Tan

The company has also launched game related programs in campus. By cooperating with Tencent to build a campus e-sports player system, both companies have worked with young people to design gaming phones. Design ideas from the initiative will then be put into use in future product design and development.

Dr. Dan Wu, general manager of game device platform at Tencent shared that a recent survey showed that that when buying a new phone, 70% of gamers will focus on whether the phone is good for playing games, 65% of them will focus on smoothness of experience, clear picture quality and ability to endure long gaming sessions. ” We hope the cooperation with JD will promote the awareness of gaming phones among users of our game,” said Wu.

 

JD’s Gaming Layout

Liangkun Jiang, head of e-sports at JD JD Mobile Devices, witnessed the establishment of JD Game+ firsthand. “In the beginning we just wanted to create a new category, because game players are key users for computer and digital products, and e-sports combines both software and hardware industries,” he said. Jiang shared that one good game can promote development of the entire industry. When the famous e-sports PUBG (Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds) launched in 2018, the high requirement for hardware accelerated the upgrading of gamers’ devices. At the same time, hardware companies were all concentrating on upgrading computers, monitors and video cards and more, as well as accessories which use the game’s IP. Through gaming competitions, more and more users will get to know the game. Further, Jiang shared, “We also found it’s important to operate our own game teams, in order to provide an integrated gaming environment for users.”

Liangkun Jiang is attending an e-sports competition held by JD during Singles Day. From left to right: Xiwen Xu from JD Communications; Lingyi Cheng from JD Communications, Chunle Wang from JD’s marketing department, Liangkun Jiang, Bo Yang from JD’s marketing department, Qiaoqiao Wang from JD’s marketing department, Qi Liu from JD Communications

JD has also holds game competitions. Zhiqiang Cui, head of the gaming department at JD Computers and Digital Products shared that this year is the sixth year of the annual JD E-sports Competitions. Leveraging JD’s experience in e-commerce, marketing activities such as livestream, and see-now-buy-now programs, the competitions can help connect JD with its customers. Data showed that customers frequently search game related words, such as LPL, go for it JDG team, game devices and more, on JD during the competitions. As Cui explained, “E-sports can extend a game’s life cycle, and promote sales for e-commerce platform like JD.”

Zhiqiang Cui

 

The Importance of the Gaming Supply Chain

A strong supply chain doesn’t only mean fast delivery and stable inventory, more importantly, it means a tailored solution based on customers’ needs. The PUBG cooperation with Tencent has proved how industry players can work together to provide a solution which provides maximum benefit for customers.

Cui shared, “Currently the game laptops is an important sub-category for JD’s computer and digital products business. JD has worked with many brands to design C2M products, which are welcomed by customers.” These C2M initiatives, which leverage JD’s inherent supply chain capabilities as well as marketing, can help manufacturers expand their product lines, and using the IP of the game to do marketing can also enhance overall sales.

“In the end, JD aims to create a platform, which can share all of the requirements from hardware, software companies and gamers, and effectively deliver a better experience.

 

Further Penetrating

JD has launched many offline stores to provide an omnichannel sales experience for customers, including JD Retail Experience Shops, JD Computer and Digital experience stores and more. These stores are also a place to connect game players as JD has set up full-gaming layouts in some of the locations. For example, at JD’s E-Space experience store in Chongqing, there is a special e-sports area where youngsters frequently will go and play games with their friends on the weekend, or attend events with top gamers.  JD also works with internet cafés.

E-sports area inside JD’s E-Space in Chongqing, China

 

Looking ahead

JD has been continuously developing the gaming sector. On Dec. 18th, the company launched an e-sports gaming phone alliance with industry partners in Sanya, Hainan province. The alliance leverages JD’s expertise in supply chain, technology, distribution, marketing and payment solutions to upgrade the gaming ecosystem, and also solidify JD’s position in it.

As technology is getting more advanced, gaming is getting more sophisticated. Daniel shared, “With new technologies such as 5G and IoT, it may be possible to develop cloud-based games. This means players will not be limited by devices, and can play games whenever and wherever they want. This will require platforms like JD to integrate resources based on supply chain capability.”

Daniel added, “I hope players in the industry can share user resources, so that gaming-related services can be delivered with more precision, attracting a group of loyal customers with a high repurchase rate. Finally, we hope to make more contributions to the whole industry.”

 

(ling.cao@jd.com; ella@jd.com)

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