JD.com and Rakuten – The Future of Unmanned Delivery in Japan

JD.com, also known as JingDong, is a Chinese Fortune 500 company know for their e-commerce business, and headquartered in Bejing. Being one of the world’s most prominent B2C companies, and even rivaling Alibaba.com, JD.com is a big player on the state of global e-commerce. Recently it was announced that JingDong has now partnered up with Rakuten, a company specializing in global e-commerce innovation, in order to work together to create unmanned delivery solutions in Japan. Let’s take a look at this partnership, and see what it holds for the future of Japan, and beyond.

Potential Competitors Becoming Allies

In 2016 Rakuten launched it’s drone delivery service in Japan, though it would be another two years before they began making first deliveries. JD.com had a slight head start, having begun its own drone delivery program in China a year earlier in 2015. Though it seemed the two companies may have become competitors, due to the proximity of their respective markets, they ended up working together, combining JD.com’s drone technology, with Rakuten’s unmanned delivery solutions. The result was the rapid innovation of logistics in Japan, and a greater level of convenience for consumers with in the country.

Developing New Technology

One of the main goals of the JD.com/Rakuten partnership is the improvement of current unmanned delivery technology, both drones, and unmanned vehicles. With a strong focus on innovation, JD.com has worked hard to push the boundaries of what commercialized unmanned delivery technology can do. With it’s many remote locations, such as islands and mountainous regions, Japan is the perfect staging ground for testing, and perfecting the technology. Going forward it is even stated that this technology will be able to be used for humanitarian aide in addition to e-commerce.

Expanding Services into New Markets

The partnership between JingDong and Rakuten has been so successful that JD.com has begun to expand their unmanned delivery services beyond the borders of Japan and China, and into other territories. As of January 2019, they have preformed their first test fights with the government of Indonesia, and look forward to future business opportunists there, and in other Southeast Asian countries.

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