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Motley Fool writes about how JD.com, China's largest direct retailer, recently partnered with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten to use both unmanned delivery ground vehicles and drones in Japan, building on a service already available in China.

According to the story, “JD's unmanned ground vehicle, which has a top speed of 9 miles per hour, is only about 5 feet tall and less than 6 feet long. Its drone, which can travel up to 10 miles, is less than 2 feet high and weighs about 11 pounds.” (The Japanese government recently relaxed rules covering drone flights, which opened the door to the new service.)

Motley Fool goes on to point out that “The team-up could be a win-win deal for JD and Rakuten. It could also give the latter an edge against Amazon.com, which holds a slim lead over Rakuten in Japan's e-commerce market. Amazon has been testing out its Prime Air drone deliveries since 2016, but it hasn't disclosed any detailed plans for the Japanese market yet.

“JD faced three major headwinds over the past year: decelerating sales growth, which was caused by softer demand for big-ticket electronics and appliances; slower growth in active customers; and contracting operating margins, caused by the expansion of its e-commerce ecosystem and first-party logistics network.

“The bears think that JD's capital-intensive business model is unsustainable. But the bulls believe that those investments -- particularly in autonomous warehouse robots, delivery vehicles, and drones -- will pay off and boost its operating margins over the long term.”
KC's View:
This may not be the trick to competing successfully against Amazon, but it certainly demonstrates the kind of mindset that these companies have to embrace going forward. Take to the ground, take to the skies, and find ways to engage with and serve the customer. No limits.