CEO and co-founder, YiHaoDian
Convocation Medal 2013

BTeach 1992 MIntBusAdmin 1997

With supply lines that reach around the world, Mr Junling Liu is CEO and co-founder of one of the largest online supermarkets, YiHaoDian, in the world’s largest market. Founded in 2008 and identified in 2011 by Deloitte’s as the Asia Pacific’s fastest growing business, YiHaoDian – the English translation is ‘Number One Store’.

The company’s holding of warehouse space has now reached 170,000 square metres in Shanghai alone (it has four other distribution centres across China), while the number of subscribers is close to 30 million. While the front end of the business may be online, the virtual cloud is backed by a massive supply and distribution operation dealing mostly in fast-moving consumable goods, or FMCGs. Logistics are demanding with the products highly variable in shape and size and often perishable, and orders typically exceed 13 items.

Further growth has been fuelled by investment from US firm Walmart, which has taken a 51 per cent share of the company’s equity. To supplement online and mobile phone access by its customers, YiHaoDian has opened more than 400 “virtual stores”, locations where customers can select and order their goods from display screens.

The success of YiHaoDian is creating opportunities for overseas suppliers, including Australia, particularly as the company’s fastest growing category is imported food. Mr Liu said that sales of imported milk, for example, have gone from a container-load a month in April 2011 to four containers a day.

Prior to his business studies, Mr Liu completed a teaching degree at Flinders, and for a time taught Chinese in South Australian schools.

But the idea of running a company has always been “in his blood”. Studying for a Masters of International Business Administration in the Flinders Business School helped to crystallise that ambition, and a topic on change management that incorporated a personal change plan proved especially significant. “That assignment really helped me to develop a career path for myself. It produced a 3,500 word document which I’m still committed to,” Mr Liu says.

Mr Liu worked for international companies in Singapore and Hong Kong before moving to his current base in Shanghai in 2003. In 2012 he was the recipient of the Austrade Australia China Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship.