Richard Liu Qiangdong is the founder and the Chief Executive Officer of one of the largest e-Commerce platforms that China has to offer, JD, which is currently worth approximately $60 billion, with Liu Qiangong having a net worth of $11 billion, according to Forbes.
He attended the Renmin University of China and holds a degree in sociology, but he spent the majority of his time as a student honing his skills in computer programming via freelance coding work. He also received an EMBA degree from the China Europe International Business School.
Richard Liu was present at last year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and talked about his journey which ended up transforming the retail industry. He also talked about the sense of responsibility that has been brought on by the fact that he is among the wealthiest people in China, and also pointed out his hopes of leaving something to the country and to enable young people to believe that they can be successful.
Due to the fact that he did not have enough money to go abroad, he set up his own business in China. Initially he worked as a restaurateur, but it was his venture in the retail business that led him to success. Back in 1998, he opened his own 4 square meter store, out of which he started selling computer accessories. The business proved to be successful, and in the following years he ended up opening a total of 12 physical stores. The SARS epidemic that hit China forced Richard Liu to close all 12 of his stores by the year 2004, and out of necessity, the online version of his store was born.
As he started retailing online, he realized that the logistics costs were smaller and that e-Commerce was the trend for the future. What made his company unique is that he made the decision to not sell any counterfeit products online, and instead to provide receipts and offer a good customer experience.
Given that at first the company had a limited amount of money, JD.com only sold IT products and mobile phones, but new products were being added every year. Fast forward to the present day, and JD has a total of 500 logistics centers, 167,000 employees, and a market value of $60 billion. Liu Qiangdong noted that the most popular products on his platform are foods, consumer goods, and fashion products.
The company is able to deliver not only in China but worldwide as well. The founder talked about the fact that it takes as little as 3 hours for an order to get delivered in Beijing, while 57% of orders get delivered within 6 hours, and 97% within 10 hours. He also pointed out that a delivery to Washington would take 10 to 15 days.
When asked about his plans to expand the platform, the CEO stated that it is hard to use one model when it comes to expansion, and that it depends from country to country. In Southeast Asia, for example, they are looking for local partners, but they do not want to exclude acquisitions either. The goal to expand will take several steps, according to Liu Qiangdong, the first part being to bring the best products to China, and then start expanding to Southeast Asia, followed by the Middle East, Europe, and then America.
On the topic of expansion, he also stated that while in the past the rhetoric has been that American companies have a difficult time when it comes to breaking into the Chinese market, he believes the roles have now reversed, and that it is more difficult for Chinese companies to expand to the United States.