Ecommerce giant JD.com is planning to expand into the UK in 2019. Seen as Amazon’s Chinese rival, JD will directly compete with the retail giant not only in the UK, but in other places in Europe as it aims to launch its retail platform and delivery services in France and Germany.
Like Amazon, JD sells a wide variety of products, including an array of musical instruments and MI gear from big brands such as Yamaha, Fender, Roland, Audio-Technica, Mapex and Meinl to name but a few.
JD plans to open a research centre in Cambridge, which will focus on artificial intelligence and big data. This will be only its second research centre outside of China.
The FT reports that JD will spend at least €1bn over two years to build its logistics network in France. By contrast, Amazon says it has invested €15bn in Europe in six years from 2010.
JD’s founder and chief executive, Richard Liu, told the FT that he is aiming for half of the company’s profits to come from outside China within 10 years.
Lui said he expects sales of British goods on JD to soar from £3bn-£4bn last year to more than £10bn within three years.
Not only is JD’s announcements to move into the UK and Europe raising an eyebrow in the retail sector, but as AI and data becomes an even more valuable tool to this industry, some experts are warning that Europe needs to up its game in terms of data research if it wants to compete with giants like JD.
According to Gianpiero Lotito, a founding member of the European Tech Alliance who advises the European Commission on tech policy, Europe has a five- to ten-year window of opportunity to become one of the leaders in the world on artificial intelligence.
“Being better able to manage information flows will foster the creation of the next generation of artificial intelligence. This extraordinary new area, i.e. being able to manage complex information flows, is Europe’s playground in the next 10 years, because it requires the skills of people from a whole range of backgrounds, not just STEM. This is the area in which some companies of the size of Google, Amazon, Ebay etc. can rise and grow in Europe,” said Lotito, who is also founder and CEO of human language search platform FacilityLive.
“AI is typical of a culture where a machine addresses humans. Europe can change the game if we think it’s possible to change the way in which humans and machines interact. We have the possibility to build natural intelligence machines, where humans address the machines which serve them.
“This window of opportunity will be open for 5 or 10 years at most. We will not have the chance to try it in 20-30 years, so we have to try it now.”