Unilever has struck a deal with JD Worldwide, a cross-border e-commerce platform linked with Chinese web giant Tencent, as the FMCG conglomerate looks to expand its online presence in the Asia Pacific region.
The deal grants Unilever the chance to open a store on the e-commerce giant’s cross-border portal.
The move comes as an effort to keep up with the growing number of consumers purchasing deodorant and shampoo via e-commerce sites.
Unilever will be selling its Dove, Ponds and Vaseline brands on the website. Its best-selling Lux shampoo products in Japan will also land on the Chinese market for the first time through the deal.
Previously, Unilever had already been selling its products via storefronts both on JD.com’s direct-sales site and on the e-commerce firm’s rival, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
“If brands sell very well, we will import them in bulk,” Andy Li, director of Unilever’s e-commerce business in China, remarked, adding that they also eye to sell them on other online platforms in the country.
Li added that the firm’s sales on JD.com tripled in 2014, a growth rate faster than that of Alibaba’s Tmall’s. He also revealed that their total online sales in China tallied up to 1 billion yuan.
However, Unilever’s China sales decreased during the second half of last year. The firm said that the slowdown was due to the slowing Chinese economy’s growth rate.
Li said that compared with other consumer-products companies, Unilever is ahead in terms of boosting sales by foraying into the Chinese e-commerce market.
In May, LVMH’s Sephora opened its first online store in China on JD.com.
Both Sephora’s and Unilever’s decisions to open stores on JD.com and JD Worldwide are seen as a big endorsement for the platform which is still relatively unknown outside of China and still transitioning the brand from its roots as a digital goods seller.
Brands are the big winners in China’s growing e-commerce market as new players woo global brands in an effort to take on Alibaba’s established presence through its Taobao and Tmall sites.
JD.com also has an established reputation in China for providing same-day delivery in many parts of the country, boasting a sophisticated in-house logistics operation, which includes seven fulfillment centers and 143 warehouses across 43 cities.