HONG KONG — One of the most common reasons high-end brands give for their reluctance to embrace e-commerce is the criticism that online shopping, especially when it comes to delivery, fails to offer consumers a true luxury experience.
Chinese online retailer JD.com thinks it’s found a way around that, rolling out a special “white glove” delivery service for certain premium products sold on the site.
In an announcement Monday, JD described its new “personalized delivery by specially-trained JD employees. Clad in distinct uniforms, complete with white gloves, they will deliver qualifying purchases to customers’ homes in electric vehicles rather than JD’s usual tricycles and scooters.”
“We are pushing the envelope because we understand that when it comes to the extension of luxury to online, existing delivery services don’t cut it,” said Xia Ding, president of JD Fashion. “This is just one step JD is taking to strengthen our partnerships with the world’s top luxury brands. We will continue to create new, exciting ways for customers to make luxury purchases, bridging the gap that still persists between online and offline luxury experiences.”
Because it operates its own logistics network entirely — from storage to last-mile delivery — JD said it is in a unique position to control and properly deliver a seamless shopping experience.
The service launches in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou but will scale significantly over the next few years, the company said. The white glove treatment is automatically included for small-sized expensive purchases such as luxury watches and jewelry, while high-end fashion is likely to be included later this year.
It’s one of several ways JD is innovating in delivery. The firm has also been testing drone technology and said last month that it is building 150 drone bases in the province of Sichuan. Scheduled for completion by 2020, the move would help them cut delivery costs by 70 percent and get local products to consumers in the province within 24 hours.
If Cartier’s success on its Valentine’s Day promotion in China is any indicator, JD’s new premium perk is likely to go over well. In a highly-buzzed about one-off event, Cartier sold a limited edition 150 pink gold bracelets, with the first 88 were to be delivered to the recipient in person by singing ‘Cartier Boys’ if they were located in one of 25 Chinese cities, while the remaining orders arrived with red roses.
Meanwhile, Matchesfashion.com is spearheading fast delivery times among fashion retailers, launching a 90-minute delivery service in London last fall. Its chief executive officer Ulric Jerome has said he expects one-hour delivery to be the norm soon in major cities.