Beginning December 22, Sanrio, China’s largest retailer, launched a special sales promotion for Hello Kitty-themed merchandise in the spirit of Boundaryless Retail. JD will also release limited edition gift boxes featuring JOY and Hello Kitty dressed in themed clothing available for purchase on the e-commerce giant’s platform.
JD.com is China’s largest retailer and biggest online company by revenue. The company has roughly 30 percent of the Chinese business-to-consumer online market, according to China E-Commerce Research Center, a Hangzhou-based think-tank. With over 300 million customers, JD.com has a vast network of warehouses and delivery stations and delivers most orders in less than a day. JD.com sets the standard for online shopping through its commitment to quality, authenticity, and its expansive product offering covering everything from fresh food and apparel to electronics and cosmetics. Its unrivaled nationwide fulfillment network provides standard same- and next-day delivery covering a population of more than one billion – a level of service and speed that is unmatched globally.
Today, that network includes more than 500 warehouses, many of which are fully automated, and nearly 7,000 delivery stations, allowing JD to cover 99 percent of China’s population and deliver over 90 percent of its orders on the same or next day. To help bring that level of service to remote rural customers, JD has been deploying delivery drones for the past two years and is presently trialing self-driving delivery vehicles on college campuses.
JD.com’s partnership with Hello Kitty is not unique to its brand, but it is important. JD.com was delighted to leverage its platform’s extensive offerings to bring Hello Kitty closer to over 300 million consumers across China during the holiday season. This time, to mark the promotion, JD has released a video of its mascot, JOY, and Hello Kitty wishing everyone a happy holiday. As most people know, Hello Kitty, also known by her full name, Kitty White, is depicted as a female Gijinka (anthropomorphization of human and Japanese Bobtail) with a red bow and, notably, no mouth. Since the cartoon character’s creation, Hello Kitty has launched a media franchise including a product line, clothing apparel, toy line, manga comics, anime series, popular music, and other media. Sanrio has groomed Hello Kitty into a global marketing phenomenon worth $6 billion a year.
Today, the image appears on every conceivable product, ranging from pencil cases and chainsaws to passenger jets. Originally aimed at the pre-adolescent female market, the Hello Kitty product range has expanded and goes all the way from dolls, stickers, greeting cards, clothes, accessories, school supplies and stationery to purses, toasters, televisions, massagers, and computer equipment.
JD also joined forces with Warner Bros.’ Justice League movie late last year to mark the film’s launch in China. The movie featured an all-star cast with Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher.
JD’s Hello Kitty holiday promotion is the latest in a series of promotions featuring popular characters from movies, apps, and more. Earlier in 2018, the company launched a similar partnership with LINE FRIENDS. LINE FRIENDS, a series of animated characters, originated as stickers on the messaging app LINE. The character brand has amassed a global fanbase, especially in China, where consumers can frequently be found sporting LINE FRIENDS-themed merchandise or playing LINE FRIENDS-themed games. JD has also collaborated with LINE FRIENDS to design a series of limited edition travel cups that will be available for purchase exclusively on JD.
Boundaryless Retail is a reality gaining in popularity, as the increasingly diverse needs of consumers require a correspondingly dynamic approach. Chinese consumers are quickly adapting to buying groceries online for immediate delivery from local offline stores. Over 67 percent of Chinese consumers actively use services like JD.com, which can deliver goods from local offline shops, including Walmart, to customers in under an hour.
Overall, however, there’s a huge disparity between physical and digital channels, as well as e-commerce issues that urgently need to be addressed. JD.com will work to open up its supply-chain capability, logistics, big data, marketing, finance, and technology to develop an ecosystem. Only 50 percent of retailers believe they offer the same level of customer experience online as they do in-store, according to research involving 500 retail businesses. Pop-up stores have evolved to become an important part of retailer and brand strategies.