When you hear ‘e-commerce in China’ you’ll probably ‘Alibaba,’ but another company is making progress to challenge the assumption that $450-billion company is China’s only online retail giant. JD.com, the nearest e-commerce competitor to Alibaba in China, has reported its first year of profitability as a public company.
The Beijing-headquartered company was founded in 1998 and it went public on the Nasdaq nearly four years ago. For its fiscal 2017, it posted a slim RMB 116.8 million $18.0 million profit on total revenue of RMB 362.3 billion ($55.7 billion). That’s a 40.3 percent increase on 2016’s revenue, which resulted in a RMB 2.0 billion for the year.
It’s not all good news, however. JD.com’s fourth-quarter lossRMB 909.2 million (US$139.7 million) ate into those annual profits on account of spending across the business. Annual revenue dropped by 18 percent year-on-year and the loss was nearly double the prediction from analysts polled by Reuters, all of which sent JD.com shares down 10 percent on Friday.
While Alibaba has a higher profile — with enormously profitable quarters — JD.com has quietly built out its e-commerce by expanding into financial services, offline retail and more.
That’s included investments in its own fresh food brand 7FRESH, a grocery service called New Dada and retail group Better Life alongside ally Tencent. It also raised outside money for its financial services business and logistics unit to give them a more startup-like feel.
JD.com and Tencent also invested in Vipshop and Indonesia-based Uber rival Go-Jek, while JD.com did other deals in Southeast Asia including investments in fashion site Pomelo, Vietnam-based marketplace Tiki and a new joint financial services venture in Thailand. The firm also branched out into the startup world with a blockchain-focused accelerator program and a joint program in Silicon Valley with Play and Play.
Note: Article updated with more information and corrections for the Q4 quarter of business.