How the SARS Outbreak of 2003 Led Richard Liu Qiangdong to Establish an Online Business

Richard Liu Qiangdong rose from the owner of a 4 square feet store to the CEO of his online business empire, JD.com. When he was starting in 1998, he gave his establishment the name Jingdong and his main goal at the time was to make money and take care of the costs of this ailing grandmother. He also did not intend to work in a government office and therefore being an entrepreneur was the profession he wanted to pursue.

Richard Liu is a college graduate with a sociology degree and also an EMBA. Prior to starting his own business, he worked as the Director of computers for 2 years in a health products company. Heas honed his skills in computer programming during his college years. His company Jingdong grew rapidly and they were 12 shops under his leadership by 2003.

The SARS pandemic in 2003 inconvenienced the sellers and buyers. Face to face interaction was a risk to catching the virus, therefore the workers in Richard Liu Qiangdong’s shops had to go home. In a meeting with managers to strategize the next move of the company, one of them suggested for an online shop because then the seller will not have to meet physically with the customers. JD.com was born out of this suggestion.

In 2004, the online business was not yet stable. Richard Liu compared his past model with this new one and realized that the online model had more benefits. There was improved customer experience, and the costs of the company logistics were lower. In this time, the online market was chaotic, and the existing online shops were selling customer fake products and the prices were exorbitant. Richard Liu Qiangdong did not want his company to be like the rest of them, which is the reason he would source for genuine products to sell to his customers.

When the online business kicked off, they were selling IT items, and mobile phones. Money was a constraint at this point, However, each year, Richard Liu added more products and in six years JD.com had stocked almost all types of consumer products. Currently, it has hired more than 167,000 people.

For details: www.forbes.com/profile/richard-liu/#291a7bfd2677