China’s JD.com extends ultra-premium delivery service to wine

JD.com, China’s second biggest e-commerce company, is upping its game in a bid to capture the attention of China’s wealthy online shoppers by extending its Downton Abbey-like, white-gloved delivery service to high-end wine purchases on its website.

JD.com’s ultra premium delivery service features handsome couriers dressed in suits and wearing white gloves

The ultra premium delivery service featuring suited couriers in white gloves, was launched by the e-commerce company earlier this year, covering a few categories of its luxury products such as jewellery and watches. This month, the service has been extended to high-end wine, the company has announced.

Starting from 10 December, deep-pocketed consumers in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Xi’an and Shenyang can enjoy this premium delivery service, which is expected to expand to more luxury categories, Chinese website Wines Info reported.

Yang Siqi, head of overseas wine purchase under JD.com’s alcoholic beverage division, believes the extension to directly sourced, premium wines is “largely a result of JD.com’s clear grasp of the future of China’s wine market.”

It’s not immediately clear what qualifies for the wine delivery service, but a search by dbHK on JD.com shows wines from Bordeaux first growths such as Château Lafite Rothschild and Château Mouton Rothschild enjoy this premium delivery service.

But the move signals that leading e-commerce companies in China are moving fast to corner the country’s growing number of wealthy shoppers, where luxury has become “the new battleground” for e-commerce giants, writes South China Morning Post. Earlier this year, JD.com’s arch enemy, Alibaba, unveiled its ‘Luxury Pavilion’ section to target affluent online shoppers. The country is already the world’s biggest e-commerce market worth about RMB 5 trillion (US$751 billion).

Launched in 2011, JD.com’s wine business has become one of the fastest growing channels for Chinese consumers to purchase wine. The company claims it sold 22 million bottles of wine in 2015, more than double that of 2014.

Its direct sales model, JD.com sells wine by sourcing directly from 12 wine producing countries including France, Australia, Chile, Spain, Italy and the US. In addition, it also offers wine on JD Worldwide, its cross-border e-commerce platform, to allow Chinese consumers to order wine directly from overseas wineries, an answer to its competitor Alibaba’s ‘Tmall Global’.

But provenance of fine wines sold online through e-commerce companies including Tmall and JD.com is not without controversy. One of JD.com’s retailers was found to be selling counterfeit Lafite wines through its online platform and ‘fake’ Penfolds, one of the country’s most known wine brands, seems to crop up at an exceedingly high rate.

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