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商业 - 科技

中国的电子商务新星

Bill Powell 2011年10月18日

想象一下,如果亚马逊能提供当日送达服务该多好。而刘强东的京东商城却做到了这一点。

    刘强东的办公室与奥运场馆、北京标志性的“鸟巢”体育馆(Bird's Nest)近在咫尺。坐在这间大办公室里,刘强东向我们介绍了他创办京东商城(360buy)的灵感来源。京东商城是中国的一家电子商务网站,增长十分迅猛,全球投资者排着队等着给它投资【它有点像亚马逊(Amazon)和新鲜直送(Fresh Direct)的混搭版】。京东商城明年的销售额有望达到15亿美元。今年38岁的刘强东是个和蔼安静的人,此次是他第一次接受外媒采访。当然,刘强东大可以说,他预见了中国的崛起和互联网大爆炸,并且聪明地找到了利用这两种趋势的生财之道。但他却坦率地对《财富》杂志(Fortune)表示,京东商城与其说是一个灵感激发出的产物,还不如说是一个在绝境下被逼出来的产物。

    2002年末,中国爆发了致命的“非典”疫情。最初的几个月,没有人知道这到底是什么疾病,也不知道该怎么治疗,数十名患者相继死去。恐慌蔓延,人们缩在家里不敢出门,全国许多企业都关门大吉。

    当时刘强东拥有一家很赚钱的电子产品分销企业,在四个城市拥有12家零售办事处。但“非典”的爆发给他的企业带来了沉重的打击。他说:“我们当时亏了很多钱。”刘强东本人也只能待在北京的公寓里。不过他手下的几个经理已经待得快发疯了,他们偷偷溜进北京的办公室里开会,探讨应对之道。其中有个经理灵光一现,想出了利用互联网来销售公司部分存货的办法。就这么简单?某种程度上可以这么说。刘强东对我们说道:“我当时几乎还不知道互联网是什么。真的,我以前从来没用过互联网。”

    不过刘强东还是批准了这个主意。到2005年,他的网上生意已经颇见规模,销售额逼近1,200万美元。他把各大门店的经理召集起来,问他们:我们是不是应该关掉所有的实体店,成为一家完全的在线企业。经理们一致表示同意,认为公司应该走电商这条路。于是在2005年末,京东商城的前身诞生了。

    如今,这家公司在全中国共雇佣了12,000名员工,业务范围也挺进到书籍和音乐,而且引起了业内某最老道的投资者的关注。其中,俄罗斯的数字天空科技(Digital Sky Technologies)集团今年就为京东注资5亿美元,这家公司也是Facebook、社交游戏开发商Zynga、和团购网站Groupon背后的投资者。另外全球最大零售企业沃尔玛(Wal-Mart),蓝筹股风投公司红杉资本【Sequoia Capital,也是苹果(Apple)、谷歌(Apple)和YouTube的投资者】也都是投资了京东商城。刘强东还表示,希望能在2013年年底前让京东在美国上市。

    与其他电子商务企业相比,京东商城的优势是它强大的物流系统,这也是令京东深受沃尔玛等投资者青睐的一个主要原因。京东商城做出了这样的保证:如果顾客在中午11点以前提交订单,那么他在当日下午6点前就会收到产品。同样,如果顾客在晚上11点提交订单,那么他在次日早9点前就会收到产品。(为了验证这一保证是否真实,在过去两周时间内,《财富》杂志在北京提交了一个小订单,在上海提交了三个订单,果然每次都如约而至。)京东的每名快递人员都配备了一个销售终端,让顾客可以在收到产品时用银行借记卡刷卡付款。另外,京东商城还有一个“100分钟政策”,如果顾客投诉一款产品,那么快递人员会在收到投诉后的1小时40分钟内返回顾客的门前。鉴于京东的快递系统如此有效,刘强东打算在今年年底前将它打造成一个开放系统,允许任何其他公司付费使用此系统——包括京东在电子商务领域的主要竞争对手当当网(Dangdang)。

    眼下,寻找新的创收方式有一定道理,因为今天的中国电子商务市场已经陷入了价格大战,这对任何一方都不是什么好事。三年前有一位风险投资家曾经参与了京东的第一轮融资,他表示中国的电子商务市场正在“变得更加拥挤”。

    的确如此。如果你问刘强东,他认为京东最主要的竞争对手是谁,他会告诉你,是中国最大的实体电子产品零售商——苏宁电器(Suning)。他承认苏宁已经成功地把它的业务搬到了网上,现在正在利用它的影响力压低与电子厂商的价格。

    不过苏宁的竞争策略并没有给刘强东造成损失。就在十年前,刘强东还是一个小小的电子产品店的店主,做梦也没想过能与中国最大的电子产品零售企业——苏宁电器展开竞争。但是现在刘强东手握大量现金,而且他的快递网络遍布全国300个城市,这些都让他在竞争中占据了优势,不过同时他也需要想出一些新的赚钱点子。

    对此,他并不担心,只是简单地说:“我们拭目以待吧。”因为刘强东深知,灵感有的时候会来自最意想不到的地方。

    译者:朴成奎

    Sitting in his big office, a stone's throw from the iconic Bird's Nest, the Olympic Stadium in Beijing, Qiangdong "Richard" Liu is explaining how he got the idea for 360buy, China's fast-growing e-commerce site (a mashup of Amazon (AMZN) and Fresh Direct), which global investors are lining up to back. Sure, Liu could claim that he had foreseen the rise of China and the Internet explosion, and that he had brilliantly found a way to capitalize on both trends. But in his first interview with a non-Chinese publication, Liu, an affable but quiet 38-year-old, tells Fortune that the success of 360buy, which is on track to hit $1.5 billion in sales next year, was less a product of inspiration than one of desperation.

    At the end of 2002 the deadly SARS virus broke out in China, and for a few terrifying months, as dozens of people died, no one knew what it was or how to treat it. Businesses across the country were shuttered, as people huddled in their homes.

    Liu owned a profitable electronics distribution business, with 12 retail offices in four cities, but the SARS outbreak was a serious blow. "We were losing a lot of money then," he says. He stayed confined in his apartment, but a few of his managers, going stir-crazy, sneaked into the office in Beijing and discussed ways to cope. One of them came up with the idea of trying to move some of the company's inventory via the Internet. A eureka moment? Only of sorts: "I barely knew what the Internet was back then," Liu says now. "Seriously. I had never used it."

    Liu, 38, nonetheless approved the idea, and by 2005 his little electronics distribution business was on pace to do $12 million in Internet sales. He convened a meeting of his top store managers and asked their opinion: Should they just shut the bricks and mortar and become an online business only? They all agreed: The company would go online only, and at the end of 2005, what would become 360buy was born.

    Today the company employs 12,000 people across China, has pushed into books and music, and has caught the eye of some of technology's most sophisticated financiers. Digital Sky Technologies (DST) -- the Russian firm that is backing Facebook, Zynga, and Grouponinvested $500 million this year. Wal-Mart (WMT), the world's largest retailer, and Sequoia Capital, the blue-chip venture firm that has backed Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), and YouTube, are also backers. Liu says he hopes to take 360buy public in the U.S. no later than the end of 2013.

    The company's advantage over other e-tailers -- and the thing that has helped attract the likes of Wal-Mart -- is its masterful logistics. The company guarantees that if a customer types in an order before 11 a.m., he or she will receive the product before 6 p.m. the same day. Similarly, anyone who orders before 11 p.m. will get the package by 9 the next morning. (Fortune tested that claim, placing one small order in Beijing and three in Shanghai over the past two weeks. It worked every time.) Each delivery person is equipped with a point-of-sale terminal to allow customers to pay with their bank debit card upon receipt of a product. Further, the company has a "100-minute policy": If a customer has any complaints about a product, a delivery person will be back at his doorstep within an hour and 40 minutes after the complaint is lodged. The 360buy delivery system is so effective that by the end of the year, Liu is going to farm it out, allowing any company to use it for a fee -- including e-commerce archrivals like Dangdang.

    Figuring out new ways to produce revenue right now makes some sense, because the retail e-commerce space in China is in the middle of a price war that can't be good for anybody. It is also "getting more crowded," as a venture capitalist who was in 360buy's first round of financing three years ago says.

    Indeed, ask Liu who he thinks 360buy's primary competitors are, and he cites China's largest brick-and-mortar electronics retailer, Suning, as his No. 1 rival, TK acknowledging that it has moved online effectively and now wields more clout to lower prices with electronics vendors.

    The irony of that isn't lost on Liu, the former small-time electronics shop owner. A decade ago he would never have dreamed of competing with the country's leading electronics retailer. Liu has a nice pile of cash and a delivery network in 300 cities to help him maintain his edge, but he'll need to keep generating new moneymaking ideas.

    Not that he's worried. "We'll see what happens next," he says simply. As Liu knows all too well, inspiration can come from the most unexpected sources.

京东商城:用数字说话      总部北京     CEO刘强东  覆盖城市300个

投资者DST、红杉资本、沃尔玛    上海快递人员每天600名骑车送货员     

每个快递员日均送达快件数量70个    全国每天交付的订单数220,000

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