Chinese online retail giant has become one of the first distributors smart hardware makers would turn to whenever they are about to ship products.

When maker revolution was about to explode JD established a sub-channel for selling smart hardware products only. Earlier this year,  the company launched JD+, an accelerator for smart hardware products, offering funding, marketing support or other resources individual makers otherwise can hardly access.

More recently JCloud project was added to provide makers with WiFi or sensor solutions, Cloud services, user data analytics service, among others.

Some user data on the platform, according to the company, will be made open for third parties to build applications or services. JD also promised to share the MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) capabilities with makers since it is one of the first private companies that have obtained MVNO licenses in China.

Smart hardware developers will also be able to implement JD’s user account system. It will benefit users that they’ll be able to control all the smart gadgets from one app. JD must be the one that will benefit more from it as the company will have all the users’ usage data.

Broadlink is a case that has taken advantage of JD’s offerings. The smart home appcessory maker now is selling products on JD and has introduced funding from the company.

JD said many traditional home electronics manufacturers have signed up.

It is expected that there will be a handful of such platforms in China. Baidu has established one offering Cloud services and others like search traffic, but Baidu doesn’t own a direct retail platform.

Xiaomi, the fast-growing smart device and mobile service provider, will eventually become a similar platform to JD’s. Apart from working directly with manufacturers on designing smartphones, smart TVs, smart WiFi routers and the like, Xiaomi has started introducing hardware products designed and made by third parties, such as a portable battery charger.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at