Wednesday, May 24, 2017

U.S. journalist on exchange program touts success of retail drone delivery in rural China photo
While drone delivery of retail products is still years away in the U.S., an online retailer in China has found success using drones in rural areas, Jim Harger reports for MLive. Harger, who was part of a group of U.S. journalists who visited China through an exchange program, saw firsthand how China has been using drone delivery in rural areas.

"At, Chinese consumers can buy home appliances, clothing, books and furniture just like Americans can at or other online retailers," Harger writes. "Unlike Amazon, can deliver your order via drone in China — something Amazon only dreams of doing in the U.S. has begun using drones to deliver packages to customers in four rural provinces."

"It's a way to get around China's shabby rural infrastructure," Harger writes. "By deploying drones from their warehouses to landing and pickup sites in rural villages, JD can cut down on delivery times and equipment costs." vice president Gloria Li told reporters, "Rural consumers have limited choices, prices are higher. We think it's a good way to improve their lives."

Harger writes, "During a 10-day reporting trip, we visited's gleaming new headquarters outside of Beijing, where some 14,000 employees work — most of them millennials in their late 20s. Founded in 1998 by a 24-year-old entrepreneur Qiangdong Liu, now sells $95 billion worth of goods each year, second only to government-owned Alibaba, which sells $450 billion worth of goods online each year."'s annual net sales total $1.36 billion, and "operates seven fulfillment centers and 256 warehouses with 6,906 delivery stations and pickup stations in 2,655 counties and districts across China," Harger notes. "Unlike online retailers, JD uses its own fleet of red trucks deliver its goods. The company developed five models of drones and uses them to deliver between five and eight packages. The company hopes to have 100 delivery routes by the end of 2017."

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