JD.com Is Taking This Unexpected Step to Prevent Coronavirus Losses

JD.com has taken an unexpected approach to prevent business disruptions as a result of the deadly coronavirus outbreak — it’s actually hiring more workers.

The Chinese e-commerce conglomerate promised to offer more than 20,000 new jobs for warehouse workers, couriers and drivers across its logistics network to “support stable employment, while seeking to minimize the overall impact of the virus on employment and people’s livelihoods at large.” According to the firm, roughly 700 employees from more than 10 JD partner companies have already been hired.

Further, Dada Group — a local on-demand delivery platform backed by JD.com — is creating an additional 15,000 positions. Some 10,000 of those new employees will work in the courier service, while the remaining 5,000 will serve as pickers and packers for retailers “to meet the demand resulting from increasing online orders.” JD is also searching for thousands of part-time, remote customer service representatives.

The onboarding process involves training workers to use necessary protective masks as well as undergo regular temperature checks and disinfections. Employees will also receive coronavirus-related insurance as a precaution.

Competitor Alibaba has also taken similar measures to avoid losses. On Monday, the company introduced an “employee-sharing scheme” that allows workers from highly impacted sectors, such as department stores, hospitality and dining, which have experienced closures and drastic reductions in hours, to find temporary jobs at Freshippo locations. Freshippo is Alibaba’s supermarket chain, which delivers groceries to local customers and has seen an uptick in such requests stemming from the virus outbreak. The e-tail giant did not reveal how many jobs were up for grabs.

According to government numbers released Tuesday night, 44,653 people in China have been infected by the coronavirus, and 1,113 people have died as a result of the illness. Many stores in China remain closed or operate at reduced hours due to government restrictions on travel and production. As citizens stay home to curb the spread of the illness, digital consumption is forecast to rise, and major e-commerce players like JD.com and Alibaba are expected to reap the benefits.

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