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Unilever to use JD.com for distribution in China

Unilever PLC has chosen JD.com Inc. to serve as its logistics provider in China, as the global consumer goods giant looks to extend its reach to more remote parts of the country.

JD.com said in an Aug. 14 blog post that Unilever will use the Chinese e-commerce giant's in-house logistics network to move goods between warehouses for distribution to physical retailers around the country. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Unilever, which offers brands including Lipton, Vaseline and Lux, has previously used local logistics companies to handle distribution in China, where its products are primarily sold through offline channels.

The partnership is in line with JD.com's "retail as a service" strategy, under which the Chinese company provides its technology and infrastructure to third-party businesses. The Chinese operations of French food producer Danone and dairy company Oldenburger are already utilizing JD.com's warehousing, transportation and inventory management software under the initiative.

JD.com has developed its own proprietary logistics network covering more than 500 warehouses and 7,000 delivery stations in addition to fleets of drones and autonomous vehicles. The online retailer said it is able to provide same- or next-day delivery for more than 90% of its orders in China and can reach 99% of the population.

Rohit Jawa, executive vice president of Unilever North Asia, said in a statement: "By opening that infrastructure to business outside of its own platform, JD will now help us bring our most popular products to the most hard-to-reach communities in China, securely and quickly."