JD reports surge in fresh food orders in China during Chinese New Year and coronavirus outbreak

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

JD’s nationwide brick-and-mortar 7FRESH supermarkets performing strict disinfection measures including disinfection of public facilities, tools and tableware, amongst other actions ©JD
JD’s nationwide brick-and-mortar 7FRESH supermarkets performing strict disinfection measures including disinfection of public facilities, tools and tableware, amongst other actions ©JD

Related tags: China, JD.com, coronavirus, ecommerce

China e-commerce giants JD say they have seen sales of fresh foods, especially vegetables, increase both online and offline during the Chinese New Year period and during the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak.

Between January 24 to February 2, vegetables had the highest sales growth on JD.com, increasing by nearly 450% compared with the same period last year.

Sales of pork, beef, mutton, poultry and eggs on JD.com exceeded 400% year-on-year growth. Sales of pork increased the fastest, by more than 10 times year-on-year.

In total, nearly 15,000 tons of fresh food, 18,900 tons of rice, flour and grain, 5.9 million litres of cooking oil, 1.8 million bottles of disinfectant solution and 3 million bottles of liquid soap were sold on its online platform.

The company said sales of commodities like rice and flour increased 5.4 and 4.7 times respectively.

In the same period, JD’s offline supermarket chain, 7Fresh, saw sales of vegetables increased by 313% year-on-year. Sales of meat, poultry and eggs increased by 306%, and sales of staple foods such as rice, grains, noodles, and cooking oil increased by 267%.

The company revealed that it had stocked up its inventory prior to the festive celebrations this year, as with previous years. However, with the ongoing epidemic, it has disrupted consumers shopping habits.

The outbreak has changed the shopping habits of Chinese consumers during the holiday as more and more customers are shopping for daily products online instead of offline​,” JD said.

Robot delivery

To contain the spread of the virus, the Chinese authorities had lockdown Wuhan city on January 23, the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic, which has since extended to 15 cities.

In order to ensure delivery of daily necessities were not compromised in this trying period, at the same time recognising the need to reduce human-human contact, JD conducted its first delivery in Wuhan using its autonomous robot vehicle.

Qi Kong, head of autonomous driving at JD Logistics said: “JD autonomous delivery robots can help reduce human-to-human contact making them an ideal solution for last-mile delivery solution in Wuhan during this unique time, protecting both our customers and our employees.”

The first products delivered included daily necessities bought by medical personnel and medical supplies donated by the public, it was delivered to Wuhan Ninth Hospital, a designated hospital for coronavirus treatment. JD has said it will add more robots with larger capacity to support larger size package delivery needs in Wuhan.

In another unmanned solution by JD, the company has a convenience store, JDX Mart, offering consumers in Guilin, Shenzhen and Dongguan a contactless way to purchase goods. It was first launched in 2017, and allows consumers to enter the store by scanning a code, take the products they want and exit without stopping at any checkout counter to make payment.

JD.com has donated RMB10m (USD1.4m) cash to the Wuhan Red Cross to fight the epidemic, on top of the earlier donation of one million masks and 60,000 medical supplies.

Another e-commerce giant Alibaba donated RMB1b (US$142m) in a fund to help buy equipment and medicine for Wuhan.

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