Today, JD.com is thelargest online retailer in China. Founded by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,Richard Liu Qiangdong in 2004, the e-commerce giant, whose name derives from ajuxtaposition of his last name and a former acquaintance, began as a physicalretail store. Prior to becoming one of the world’s foremost entrepreneurs,Richard Liu briefly dabbled in the restaurant business but was ultimatelyunsuccessful. During this period, he was attending college on a part-time basisin Beijing, but due to a number of family issues, he began focusing on new andinnovative ways to make money. While many of Richard Liu Qiangdong’s peersbegan taking government positions or traveling abroad, JD.com’s Chief ExecutiveOfficer, found the business world to be more fitting.
At the onset, Richard LiuQiangdong launched a small company geared toward selling computer accessories.After a successful run within a short period of time, he expanded his businessto twelve locations. 2003 proved to be an integral period for Richard Liu, aswell as the whole of China, as the SARS virus wrought havoc throughout the country.Unable to deliver his products with the same efficiency due to the high risksassociated with the SARS virus, he heeded to the suggestion of one of the company’s managers and began selling his products online. This was animmediately fruitful venture, and over the course of the next two years, heimplemented the transition from physical retail to e-commerce. Throughout thistransition, Richard Liu Qiangdong analyzed the figures of his physical retailand e-commerce operations and quickly realized that e-commerce provided aconsiderable advantage over traditional retail marketing. Amazon, as well asother budding and established e-commerce entities provided for significantcompetition regarding e-commerce, yet, Richard Liu viewed the e-commercemarket, particularly in China, as chaotic, and in need of new rules. While theleading e-commerce companies in China often marketed pirated or counterfeitproducts, he ensured that his site would only provide authentic products. Thisdecision led to a swift rise in production and visibility regarding JD.com,setting the stage for its eventual dominance of the market.