Chinese online retailer JD and Canadian e-commerce platform Shopify have entered a strategic partnership to help global brands sell in the Chinese market and Chinese merchants looking to sell overseas.

Why it matters: Expanding beyond home markets, especially in the competitive e-commerce sector, is a daunting task even for tech majors like JD and Shopify. With lessons learned from Amazon’s withdrawal from China and JD’s own setbacks in overseas expansion, Shopify is teaming up with a local partner, saving costly tasks such as initial user acquisition, infrastructure construction, and providing insights to the local market.

  • JD, which already has a solid presence in the Southeast Asian market, is advancing its global expansion. The tie-up with Shopify comes shortly after JD opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Europe last week.
  • The deal will compete with other major players in China’s cross-border e-commerce sector, such as Alibaba’s Kaola.

Details: Under the partnership, JD will allow Shopify merchants to list their products on the company’s cross-border e-commerce platform JD Worldwide, giving them access to more than 550 million active buyers in China, according to a Tuesday statement from the company.

  • JD will support expedited onboarding and help Shopify merchants sell their products within three to four weeks, a much shorter process than the previous 12-month time frame. The company will achieve this through technical means, including intelligent translation and smart price conversion.
  • JD also opened up its end-to-end fulfillment capabilities to Shopify merchants by leveraging the company’s logistic power, including China-US cargo flights, US warehouses, more than 1,300 warehouses, and more than 200,000 couriers in China.
  • Additionally, JD will support selected Chinese brands to set up their direct-to-consumer channels through Shopify, helping Chinese brands and merchants reach consumers in Western markets.
  • Aaron Brown, Vice President of Shopify, refers to the partnership as “a major step” in solving cross-border commerce for merchants. “The future of commerce is commerce everywhere—and that starts by removing barriers to entry to one of the most important e-commerce markets in the world,” Brown said in the JD announcement.

Context: To spur foreign trade growth, Beijing has been promoting the construction of cross-border e-commerce pilot zones since last year. China’s cross-border e-commerce imports and exports reached RMB 1.98 trillion ($311.7 billion) in 2021, up 15% year on year, according to data from China’s General Administration of Customs.

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 or Twitter.