JD.com expects consumers anywhere in the world to be able to order goods in the future via voice command on smart connected devices.
All the product packing and sorting can be done through automated warehouses and delivered by drones, which are embedded with facial recognition to identify the parcel's receiver.
JD.com, the world's third-largest Internet company, has outlined its retail strategy empowered by artificial intelligence (AI), big data, Internet of Things, robotics, unmanned vehicles and blockchain, which leads to smart supply chains and logistics, creating a seamless experience for customers shopping online and offline.
“We believe science and technology will create new opportunities to retailers in China and other countries in the world,” Chen Zhang, chief technology of JD.com speaking at the press conference for “JD's June 18 Anniversary Sale”, a 20-day sale campaign.
“Precision, human, integration, empowerment and trust have become the five key focus areas for technological development in the retail industry,” said Zhang.
JD will offer technologies to brand partners and become retail related infrastructure providers, under a programme called “Retail as a Service”.
Zhang said the data analytics for consumer behaviour can provide precise information to gain insight that helps brands and suppliers enhance their inventory and forecast demand. This increases efficiency and saves costs for smart supply chain management.
Augmented reality enables physical retailers to bring their shopping experience online. For example, smart mirrors can help shoppers try lipsticks by virtually overlaying the product on their lips, enhancing the online shopping experience.
AI also plays a role in automated convenience stores with facial recognition to recognise when customers enter the store and in electronic shelves that can detect which product is sold as well as mobile payments at checkout. Convenience stores and supermarkets will be unmanned, providing 24-hour service with no queues and automatic restocking of products.
AI capability will enhance refrigerators to be able to learn which foods are about to expire, notify users and make online orders.
JD's AI also allows leading consumer electronics makers to make smart TVs, smart speakers and smart fridges.
Jun Xiao, vice-president of JD.com and head of JD-X, which is a dedicated team for logistics innovation and automation, said in terms of delivery, autonomous vehicles, particularly trucks, developed by JD's Silicon Valley team have completed 2,400 hours on-road testing. The vehicles will run on superhighways are expected to operate by 2020.
JD's fully-autonomous heavy-loaded drone will be showcased during the June 18 anniversary sale and the drone is expected to be in operation in 2020.
Implementation of the drone can help support product transport to various logistics centres, with faster delivery of agricultural products from rural areas to cities.
“We aim to build up the world's first smart logistics network covering air and land transport, which comprises drones, autonomous delivery vehicles, smart terminals and smart airports in the future,” said Zhang.
Mr Xiao said automation and robots also play a role in smart warehouse in lifting large palettes and sorting packages.
JD has the world's first wholly unmanned warehouse, covering product entry, storage, packing and sorting in Shanghai.
JD's 500 warehouses cover 99% of China's population, allowing the company to provide same and next day delivery for over 90% of orders.
To increase consumer trust, the company has implemented a traceability system from farm to consumers by using blockchain technology. To date, JD's blockchain platform has partnered with more than 400 domestic and international brands. Over 11,000 stock keeping units can be traced with blockchain.
Brown Zhou, vice-president and head of the AI platform and research division, said the company developed customer service robots that have emotion analysis capabilities. It can recognise consumers' emotions and respond with the appropriate emotion to make communications more genuine and human-like.
The robots also enhance computer vision and natural language processing, which enable AI to better feel and understand human emotions, and generate corresponding emotional content. The company plans to offer the robots capabilities to fashion, medical and agriculture industries.
“AI will be everywhere and it can integrate humans with digital,” he said. — The Bangkok Post/Tribune News Service
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