Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com, although still arguably very much overshadowed by its larger rival Alibaba, is starting to pick up steam through its alliance with Tencent, which gives it access to vastly popular social networking channels in China.
JD announced today that it will be exclusively accepting pre-orders for Microsoft’s Xbox One game console in China from today till Wednesday through its mobile QQ and Weixin official accounts. Interested buyers need to place a deposit of CNY499 ($80) to reserve a console, though the full pricing of the Xbox One is still unclear.
The latest move taps on JD’s partnership with Tencent — mobile QQ and Weixin (the version of WeChat offered in China) are Tencent’s social networking sites in China with a large userbase. Earlier this year, Tencent had taken a 15 percent stake in JD and subscribed to another 5 percent after JD completed its IPO in the US, which raised $1.78 billion.
Subsequently, Tencent has been taking aggressive steps to boost its e-commerce presence on WeChat, and being the exclusive pre-sales channel for the Xbox One is another example of such ambitions. JD was added as the official shopping channel within the chat app, while Tencent opened up an option for official account owners (typically brands) to set up shop within WeChat — and complete transactions using Tencent’s online payment services, made easier with the recent introduction of an in-app one-click payment transfer feature.
On July 31, JD will also start taking pre-orders for the Xbox One on its website.
Microsoft confirmed in April this year that it would launch the Xbox One in China in September, in partnership with BesTV New Media, after a 13-year ban on video game consoles was finally lifted last year. The two formed a joint venture for home entertainment and gaming experiences last year, becoming the first company registered in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone agreement, as part of the requirement for console-makers selling in China.
China Telecom revealed last week that it would be the exclusive carrier partner for the Xbox One in the country and would start selling it in September.