BEIJING: Google would invest more than half a billion dollars in China’s second-largest e-commerce company JD.com as part of a move to expand retail services around the world, the two companies said on Monday.
The announcement comes as the US giant is pushing Google Shopping, a platform allowing customers to compare prices between different sellers, which poses a challenge to Amazon.
“The firms will merge JD’s supply chain and logistics experience with Google technology to create next-generation personalised retail in regions including Southeast Asia, the US and Europe,” a joint statement said. JD.com’s Chief Strategy Officer Jianwen Liao said the partnership with Google would open up a broad range of possibilities to offer a superior retail experience to consumers throughout the world.
Google will put $550 million in cash into JD.com and in return, the California-based company will receive 27.1 million newly issued JD.com Class A ordinary shares.
The shares are equivalent to nearly 1% stake in the company, according to a JD.com spokesman.
Google Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler said the move would give customers “the power to shop wherever … they want.”
However, the partnership is unlikely to affect Google’s status in mainland China, where Gmail, Google Search and Google Maps are all blocked.
“The announcement isn’t focused on China,” JD.com spokesman Josh Gartner confirmed to AFP.
Chinese internet users face fines or even jail for unfavourable social media posts. Authorities have further tightened internet controls in recent months, shutting down celebrity gossip blogs and probing platforms for obscenity.
In China, JD.com competes aggressively with e-commerce leader Alibaba, which runs the popular Taobao and Tmall shopping platforms.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2018.