Unmanned convenience store is one of the hottest buzzwords in China’s tech world since this summer. As a major force in China’s online retailing market, JD is sure not to be left out. Ahead of this year’s Single’s Day, the e-commerce giant has revealed that it is already testing two unmanned smart store models at its Beijing headquarter. 

One model, JD’s Unmanned Convenience Store, offers a complete solution integrating various smart technologies. It leverages the latest technologies such as RFID, facial recognition, and image recognition, both to stores operated by JD, and eventually to high-quality third-party retailers. Cameras on the ceilings of the stores can recognize customer movement and also generate heat maps of the activity to monitor traffic flow, product selection, and customer preferences, helping store owners to stock efficiently. 


The second model, JD’s D-Mart Smart Store Solution, offers low-cost wholesale and piecemeal customization flexibility to allow store owners to upgrade their existing stores and increase efficiency. Complete with smart shelving tools using JD Smart Vision technology that can recognize products and in-store behavior, as well as AI, the solution helps store owners better gauge how to manage inventory and product displays.  

In addition to the unmanned stores, JD is also testing smart solutions in its own JD Retail Experience Shops. Moreover, the company recently entered into a strategic partnership with Sinopec to integrate smart technology into Sinopec’s gas stations across China. 

JD’s rival Alibaba has laid out in the sector through the launch of unmanned shops, facial payment support as well as efforts to revamp offline retailers. Similarly, Alibaba also plans to build an unstaffed gas station in its home city of Hangzhou. The emerging sector has also welcomed startups such as BingoBox, Xingbianli, and GoBox.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.

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