Despite another record-breaking sale day for China’s top retailer yesterday, JD.com is interested in selling more than just consumer goods. From taking on the China distribution functions for foreign brands to selling the drones it is developing, JD.com is making much of its retail and logistics infrastructure available to buy.

“Everything we have in our food chain, once it is mature we will open it up,” Zhang Chen, JD’s CTO told a small group of journalists as part of a tour of the firm’s facilities ahead of its 6.18 sales event. The scale of JD’s operation–and the data that operation generates–help it to develop technologies to keep ahead of the crowd. It is also choosing to make these new services available to others. But could its scale and ability to advance its offering lead to rapidly increasing customer expectations which only it can meet, in turn leading to a dependency on its infrastructure by other retailers in China and the markets it is entering?

Retail as a service (RaaS) is a growing business area for the likes of pure technology companies–both hardware and software–as well as retailers such as Amazon and marketplace platforms such as eBay and Alibaba.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...