Superior logistics are the likely reason was able to outperform its rivals during China’s lockdown, say analysts.

The platform, the country’s second-largest behind Alibaba, has its own inventories and warehouses, plus an in-house logistics network, reports Nikkei Asian Review. This allows it to offer same or next-day delivery.

The result, say Nomura analysts, is that JD emerged “largely unscathed” from the pandemic. They say the e-commerce giant saw sales of 146 billion yuan during Q1 this year, up almost 21% over the same time last year.

“JD Retail and logistics outperformed peers amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” the analysts said.

Meanwhile, Alibaba saw its slowest growth in four years between January and March, seeing 114 billion yuan in sales, according to its latest earnings report. The country’s third-largest e-commerce platform, Pinduoduo, reported revenue of 6.5 billion yuan, which is up by 44% on the previous year, Nikkei Asian Review reports; even so, this was its weakest growth since the company listed on the Nasdaq in 2018.

Danny Law, an analyst at Guotai Junan International Holdings in Hong Kong, told the Review, “The self-operated business model helps JD to minimize the negative impacts from COVI-19, at least (to) maintain its normal operations compared to marketplace-model e-commerce (players) such as Alibaba and Pinduoduo,” Law said. “Thanks to increasing scale, it helps JD to enjoy economies of scale, leading to higher-than-expected margins.”

Beyond the triumph in the marketplace during the exceptional period, Law added that JD’s other big gain was building customer trust, some of which was likely to remain as normal trading conditions return.

However, as life begins to return to at least a semblance of normality, including in the logistics sector, JD rivals like Alibaba and Pinduoduo are already seeing a strong pick-up in business, and JD’s door-to-door service tends to be more expensive than rivals’, which may dent its success going forward, and stretch any newly kindled customer loyalties.

Despite Alibaba’s weaker performance during the pandemic, Jing Daily reports, it is still on track for future growth. Its Chief Financial Officer, Maggie Wu, said that the group had seen a “steady recovery” since March, and the group is expecting to see over 650 billion yuan in revenue for the fiscal year ending 2021.

Sourced from Nikkei Asian Review, Jing Daily; additional content by WARC staff