Shopify strikes partnership with JD.com to help US merchants sell to Chinese consumers

Shopify
The deal gives US Shopify sellers access to the world’s largest e-commerce market.

Shopify has teamed up with China’s JD.com in a strategic partnership designed to make it easier for American Shopify merchants to sell to Chinese consumers.

The partnership will grant Shopify merchants in the United States (US) access to JD.com’s 550 million active customers in China. As of today, US Shopify merchants will be able to sell their goods in China via JD Marketplace in “as quickly as three to four weeks,” faster than the 12 months Shopify claims it typically takes for foreign brands to begin selling in the country.

The partnership will grant Shopify merchants in the US access to JD.com’s 550 million active customers in China.

The deal is the latest in a series of partnerships that Shopify has struck to broaden its reach and differentiate itself from other big e-commerce players like Amazon

Over the past couple of years, Shopify has been pushing up against the likes of Amazon with its own fulfillment networks, and partnerships with major brands that expand its reach, including Spotify.

By most metrics, Amazon still overshadows Shopify, but in September, Shopify reportedly surpassed the e-commerce behemoth in online traffic.

The JD.com partnership expands Shopify’s reach in another major e-commerce market.

JD.com is a Beijing-based online retail giant that connects Chinese consumers with domestic firms and international brands selling products like food, apparel, home appliances, and more through its tech platform, logistics, and delivery network.

The partnership will grant American Shopify merchants access to JD.com’s end-to-end fulfillment network, from the company’s US warehouses directly to Chinese consumers.

“Bringing together two world-class commerce platforms—Shopify and JD.com—is a major step in solving cross-border commerce for merchants,” said Shopify Vice President Aaron Brown.

China has a population of over 1.4 billion, and represents the world’s largest e-commerce market. GlobalData estimates it will be worth $3.3 trillion by 2025. This would make it five times larger than the runner-up—the US market—according to forecasts by Statista.

RELATED: Shopify reportedly surpasses Amazon in online traffic heating up race between the e-commerce firms

But despite its potential, Shopify said the country remains inaccessible to many independent businesses and entrepreneurs abroad, due to “regulatory and logistical barriers, as well as complexities related to pricing, duties, and translations.”

In the Chinese e-commerce space, JD.com competes against other major players like Pinduoduo, Alibaba, and Douyin.

For JD.com, international expansion has become an area of focus, as the Chinese company looks to challenge Amazon’s dominance in other markets. Last week, JD.com opened its first physical retail store in Europe.

Amazon entered China in the early 2000s, but in 2019, the US firm shut down its domestic Chinese marketplace after facing stiff competition from China’s e-commerce companies, citing plans to focus on cross-border selling to the country’s consumers. Today, Chinese consumers can buy goods imported from international Amazon sites.

Shopify’s latest partnership follows its recent, net-new addition of Instacart CEO Fidji Simo to the company’s board of directors in December. Simo brings some last-mile delivery expertise to Shopify, as the Canadian firm seeks to expand its own fulfillment network.

Feature image courtesy of Shopify

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit staff writer who loves to tell Canadian business and tech stories. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.

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