JD.com spearheads public-private alliance to facilitate cross-border e-commerce

JD.com’s “No. 1” fulfillment center in Shanghai.

On 1 August, Beijing-based e-tailer JD.com, in collaboration with 20 global brands, announced a new alliance with China’s Inspection and Quarantine Association that aims to streamline and expedite the customs clearance process for cross-border imports into China.

The alliance brings together a cross section of the cross-border e-commerce supply-chain including other retailers and online platforms like Wal-Mart and eBay, global freight forwarders like Kuehne + Nagel and Agility Logistics, as well as household manufacturers like Huggies and Danone.

As its first undertaking, the alliance will develop an integrated platform that will shed some light on the customs “black box”, by making it possible for alliance partners to track-and-trace imported goods as they move through Chinese Customs.  Currently, shippers importing goods into China have access to very limited information regarding the customs clearance process, often limited to no more than whether the parcel has entered or exited customs. Once the platform is operational, JD says it plans to offer greater visibility to its customers as a layer of reassurance that products are genuine imports, and not counterfeit knockoffs.

Industry insiders have long argued that collaboration and transparency are crucial to making cross-border imports moving through the general air cargo supply chain more competitive with the integrator supply chain. This new partnership will likely provide valuable insights into the customs clearance process, but could it also be phase-one of something much bigger? If, say, the capabilities of such a platform were expanded to share information between multiple stakeholders. In such a scenario, the Inspection and Quarantine Association, and transportation partners downstream, could be notified in advance precisely how many Huggies shipments were arriving by air on any given day. We shall see.

In the meantime, those interested in learning more about JD.com and cross-border e-commerce, are invited to join us in 2-4 October at the Ritz-Carlton on Miami’s South Beach for the Cargo Facts Symposium. Executives from JD.com, SF Express, 12Send, DHL eCommerce and Ontario airport will speak on a panel titled “Taking Advantage of the E-commerce Revolution.” For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactssymposium.com.

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