China's ecommerce giant JD.com plans to challenge Amazon in Europe as early as 2019, aiming to be ubiquitous across the continent within "a few years", says the company's chief.
Richard Liu, the group's founder and chief executive, told the Financial Times his company will first launch its ecommerce platform and delivery services in France, then the UK and Germany.
JD will spend at least €1bn over two years to build its logistics network in France. By contrast, Amazon says it has invested €15bn in Europe in six years from 2010.
Mr. Liu said he is aiming for half of the company's profits to come from outside China within 10 years, although the bulk of product sales would remain in China - suggesting the company will expand beyond its ecommerce operation internationally.
Mr. Liu said JD planned to launch its first European research centre in Cambridge in the UK in the first half of 2019. The centre will be its second outside of China, and will focus on artificial intelligence and big data.
Unlike domestic rival Alibaba and US behemoth Amazon, JD owns and runs its logistics network, which the company considers as the reason for its fast deliveries. The company's army of migrant delivery workers means it can deliver a box ofcereal within 24 hours in Beijing for less than a dollar.
"Our efficiency mostly comes from the management technology of our logistics. We built our logistics to be online from day one," said Mr Liu. "Companies like DHL built their systems on decades-old technology, it's very hard for them to overturn their systems overnight."
But in Europe, Mr. Liu said, it is considering enlisting local partners for last-mile delivery, although it will own its own network of warehouses.
JD also plans to open an office in London in April to expand its local partnerships in the UK, and has already set up an office in Paris to do the same in France.
JD invested $397m in London-based luxury fashion platform Farfetch last summer, becoming one of its largest stakeholders and receiving a seat on its board of directors. JD described the move as part of its "major luxury push".