Liu Qiangdong is the founder, and CEO, of China’s leading e-commerce company, JD.com. Worth over an estimated $12 billion US dollars as of early 2018, Qiangdong’s self-made success story makes him a true entrepreneurial genius. Liu Qiangdong’s business savvy, intuition, and flexibility have parlayed successfully into an empire that actively serves over 100 million active shoppers, and continuously utilizes cutting edge technology to innovate new solutions for a global economic environment.
Childhood, and Early Life
Born in China’s Jiangsu province, in the town of Suqian, Liu Qiangdong’s early life was typical of many families in the region. His coal-shipping parents instilled the value of hard work, and a proper education, and encouraged their son to excel in all endeavors. Immediately following his primary, and secondary school education, Liu Qiangdong was enrolled in the Sociology program at The Peoples’ University of China, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the program. Though he concentrated on his chosen major, Liu Qiangdong began to recognize the importance of broadening his horizons for the sake of being a competitive candidate for future employment opportunities. Thus, he taught himself computer coding, and engaged in self-study related to computer science.
Early Employment and Entrepreneurship
Upon graduating from University, Liu Qiangdong’s first foray into the business world was via his first employer, Japan Life, a large-scale natural supplement provider. Within the company, Qiangdong successfully parlayed his previously learned skills to garner multiple growth opportunities, until he eventually became the company’s Director of Computers.
In 1998, Liu Qiangdong left Japan Life to purposely pursue his entrepreneurial calling. In the beginning of the venture that would eventually turn into a multi-billion dollar valuation, Liu Qiangdong rented a small retail space in Beijing, known as China’s technology hub. Initially, in this retail setting, he sold magneto-optical products, and focused on providing exemplary customer service, ease of transaction, and the utilization of technology for the purpose of streamlining business ventures. Though there were competitive vendors within this niche industry, Qiangdong aimed to set himself apart from competition by selling only authorized products. Throughout this time in China’s commerce history, many vendors sold faux items, which were often depreciated in quality. Thus, Qiangdong recognized this trend as an opportunity to not only distance himself from the competition, but to gain the trust and loyalty of his customers, who relied on his products to be authenticated, and of the highest retail quality.
Within the first five years of business ownership, Liu Qiangdong turned his initial investment into a highly profitable chain of twelve brick-and-mortar outposts of his magneto-optical retail store, then named Jingdong. While many fledgling businesses struggle to garner profitable outcomes throughout their first several years, Liu Qiangdong’s business enjoyed almost immediate continued success, growth, and expansion. With twelve retail locations, the traditional business model was highly successful for Jingdong.
Brick-And-Mortar To E-Commerce
In 2003, China’s SARS outbreak provided immediate changes throughout the retail environment throughout the country, and proved to be devastating to many small businesses. Though Liu Qiangdong’s Jingdong wasn’t completely spared, his ability to adapt to new marketplace circumstances allowed the business to not only survive, but to eventually turn into an industry leader. While many potential customers were now changing their shopping habits, Qiangdong recognized this shift in retail atmosphere as an opportunity to pivot the business model to focus solely on e-commerce.
Within two years of making this monumental decision, all of Liu Qiangdong’s retail operations were closed, and the online iteration of his business was borne, renamed 360Buy Jingdong, aptly reflecting the online company’s newly founded ability to service customers at any time, from any location. Though this iteration of his business was considered new territory, Qiangdong’s understanding of customer service was parlayed successfully throughout this newly burgeoning venture. He spent resources on perfecting the user experience, providing a proprietary shopping platform that serviced guest needs, and providing shipping options that allowed shoppers to receive their products swiftly.
Growth, Expansion, and JD.com
Within the first iteration of his online venture, Liu Qiangdong sold the same magneto-optical products that were initially offered within his brick-and-mortar stores. Before long, however, other vendors began to see the profitability associated with his particular platform, and wanted to sell their wares on the growing site. Liu Qiangdong leveraged these newly formed business relationships into long-term partnerships, and began to sell high-quality goods on his platform, renaming the site to JD.com.
Before long, his platform provided consumers with high-end luxury items not available within China’s online marketplace, daily essentials, and brand name items from the world’s largest retailers. Liu Qiangdong’s relationships continued to prosper with various business entities, including an eventual partnership with Walmart, and an investment from Google. With many global power players in JD.com’s corner, the brand became a staple in many households.
With a key focus on customer service, the brand relies on an easy to use interface that is simple enough for the novice online shopper, but sophisticated and intuitive enough for the shopper who knows exactly what they want. Qiangdong’s company also sees the value in providing everyday essentials to remote villages, and has successfully utilized technology to resolve a shipping problem that has plagued many competitive companies. JD.com now utilizes the world’s largest fleet of drones to provide same-day, or next-day delivery services to a population of over one billion individuals.
With annual growth and success, Qiangdong’s vision for the company was realized in 2014, when JD.com became the first China-based company to be publicly traded on NASDAQ. On the day of the company’s IPO, JD.com’s stock value rose by 15%, proving this move to be highly successful. With many impressive shareholders, including Google, international interest remains present for JD.com, as the global marketplace opens doors for Qiangdong’s desired expansion to Thailand, and Europe.
As the founder of the e-commerce titan, Liu Qiangdong serves as current CEO, and remains involved in daily operations, business forecasting, technology building, and every other aspect of the company’s success.