Suning Commerce Group Co., China's largest retailer, opened its first overseas R&D center in Silicon Valley. The center, located on Page Mill Road in Palo Alto, California, plans to recruit 50 researchers and staff by the middle of 2014.
The retailer is the largest commercial enterprise in China with more than 1,600 chain stores employing 180,000 people and grossing $37.7 billion in sales. Its e-commerce platform, Suning.com, ranks among China's top three B2C companies. Suning said it strives to become a leading, global retail brand by 2020, with sales of $100 billion and another $100 billion by third-party sellers through Suning.
Backed by an initial investment of $5 million, Suning said its Silicon Valley R&D center will serve as the company's U.S. hub for science and technology. Starting in 2014 with a staff of 50, Suning plans to expand the center to 200 people by 2017.
The establishment of the Silicon Valley R&D Center moves Suning a step toward fulfilling its “One Body with Two Wings vision for retail;” a vision that includes internet-based retail, seamless integration of an online-to-offline business model, and an open platform.
"Leveraging the features of China's market and the technology advantages of Silicon Valley, the R&D Center will focus on intelligent search and precise marketing, big data technology, high-performance computing, and internet banking," said Mr. Wang Jingxi, General Manager of the Suning Silicon Valley R&D Center."
“The center's objective is to create the new model in global retail business by maximizing Suning's advantages in integrating its online and offline business. This will create an intelligent shopping experience for consumers, anywhere and anytime. The research will improve Suning's capabilities in logistics, finance and IT, delivering end-to-end value to suppliers and partners,” the company said.
The center will cooperate with medium and small enterprises to study advanced commercial models in the US and identify strategic investment and acquisition opportunities.
"As the location of our first overseas R&D center, Silicon Valley offers the potential to partner with leading businesses, attract high-caliber talent, and advance cooperation between China and US," said Mr. Zhang Jindong, Chairman of Suning.
"China is on pace to become the largest consumer market in the world," said Jindong. "Not only will Suning's sustained, long-term investment in innovation and new retail technologies drive aggressive business growth, it will help transform China from the world's factory into the world's marketplace."
The first in a series of planned R&D centers in cities throughout the U.S., the Silicon Valley facility places Suning in the heart of technological innovation, and will help achieve the core elements of its long-term vision for retail, the company said.
The firm said it plans to satisfy “the evolving needs of the world's global shoppers via an integrated all-inclusive shopping experience that offers the convenience of online and offline.” In addition the company said it plans to offer “better capital solutions for upstream suppliers and better consumer finance experience for clients by employing an online, terminal-to-terminal financial industrial chain for suppliers and consumers.”
"Investments that integrate Suning's e-commerce platform with its 1,600 brick-and-mortar stores will serve as a key driver of sustainable growth," said Mr. Jingxi. "The center will be dedicated to facilitating this integration, helping create an even more intelligent and enjoyable shopping experience for consumers."