JD Fashion site couriers in white shirts and black suites get ready for delivery mission in Beijing. (Photo provided to China Daily)
It was about 2 pm and Shang Kai was in a hurry. The 27-year-old courier was busy delivering a luxury designer bag to a client in Beijing.
Just two hours ago, the customer had placed an order through the new JD Fashion site on JD.com Inc's online platform.
With the clock ticking, Shang had to drop off the package by 3 pm. Naturally, he eventually arrived on time, leaving his client pleasantly surprised.
For unlike other couriers, he stepped out of an electric car dressed in a black suit, wearing a white shirt with a dark gray tie.
Shang also wore spotless white gloves as he handed over the expensive designer handbag in a glitzy gift box.
"Customers are usually surprised to see me delivering packages," said Shang, who is part of JD.com's white glove delivery service for JD Fashion, which was set up earlier this year.
"I am proud to be on the team and I hope I provide a superior shopping experience for our clients," he added.
As online Chinese consumers become more sophisticated, e-commerce companies, such as JD.com, are rolling out more specialized retail experiences when it comes to the luxury market.
In June, the internet group launched JD Luxury Express, a new high-class delivery service for marque brands.
E-cars replaced the traditional tricycles and scooters, while the couriers stepped out in suits and ties, as well as white gloves.
Indeed, staff have to meet a strict criteria. They must be between 25 to 35 years old and 170 cm to 185 cm tall, as well as being "good-looking", according to JD.com.
They must also have extensive driving experience and speak fluent mandarin, the company stated.
Initially, the white glove delivery service is being launched in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. But it is expected to expand across the country in the next few years.
Costs are included in the purchase of luxury items which, depending on the size, are usually delivered within 24 hours.
For the couriers, this is a different experience. Shang used to work as a "deliveryman" for online retailer Yihaodian for five years.
But a few months ago, he was selected from 50 candidates to join JD.com's white glove service.
"Before starting (my new job), I received professional etiquette training," he said.
"We were told to keep our distance from customers and to present the packages respectfully with both hands," he added.
Shang confessed it was crucial to have the right attitude to succeed as an up market courier.
At times, it can be stressful but it was important to present a "friendly face" when delivering luxury labels to clients, he pointed out.
"Obviously, I can finish my work quite quickly when the orders are all from the same area," Shang said. "Moreover, I work hard to be cheerful in front of our clients, so they will use us again."
Zhenhui Wang is the CEO of JD Logistics and is delighted with the way the white glove service is working out.
He has a simple approach to the philosophy behind this latest venture.
"Customers who buy premium products online deserve a premium service," Wang said.
"We are raising the bar for what consumers and brands will come to expect from the luxury e-commerce experience."