Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

JD.com testing drones for rural delivery

William Payne
February 4, 2016
 
Beijing based Chinese online retailer JD.com is testing drones for delivering goods to customers in China's vast rural heartland. The retailer has begun a pilot to test drone deliveries to remote areas that are difficult to reach with conventional delivery means.

Countryside shoppers have become a major new market for both JD.com and its rival online retailer Alibaba Group. With around 600 million people living in the vast expanse of the countryside, and with a largely unmodernised infrastructure of roads and rail in remote rural regions, there is a need to fulfil orders cheaply and quickly by alternative means of delivery. Chinese rural incomes are also growing at a much faster rate than urban incomes.

Rival Alibaba is working with a large network of providers connected to its logistics affiliate Cainiao. JD.com has chosen to build its own logistics network, which includes including dozens of warehouses, thousands of local delivery and pickup stations. The company's logistics operations employs tens of thousands of delivery workers.