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Chinese e-tailer JD.com has signed a “strategic partnership” deal with compatriot Siasun Robot & Automation to develop intelligent logistics systems that are expected to incorporate robots, drones and the Internet of Things. While sales at JD.com are soaring, so too are its logistics costs. In its recently released first-quarter results, the company recorded a 68% increase in fulfilment costs, mostly attributed to “the increase in the number of fulfilment employees associated with the expansion of the company’s fulfilment network into lower-tier cities and rural areas, as well as the growth in consumable product offerings with lower average order size”. With a looming demographic crisis, as the numbers of Chinese workers entering employment plummets, companies such as JD.com need to develop automated logistics solutions as quickly as they can.

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