China’s second largest e-tailer, JD.com, is making it easier for consumers in China to purchase products from Japan, with a new logistics partnership and flagship online stores on the way.

JD.com signed an MoU with Japanese logistics group Yamatothat will simplify cross-border logistics for Japanese goods bought by consumers in China. The focus will be on improving JD.com’s cold chain logistics network in China, with the two companies to collaborate on artificial intelligence and big data R&D programmes, including developing unmanned warehouses and driverless trucks.

Ultimately, the goal is to launch a delivery service later this year that will get fresh fruit, vegetables and other produce from Japan into the hands of Chinese consumers within 24 hours, according to Nikkei Asia.

The move comes several months after the two companies formed a strategic partnership, with both JD.com and Yamato investing in e-commerce service provider Frank International to streamline the sales process between Japanese sellers and online consumers in China.

“This strengthened partnership with Yamato Group will give JD’s consumers even greater access to the highest quality Japanese and global brands,” said Richard Liu, JD.com chairman and CEO, in a company statement released 12 July.

“By expanding our cooperation into areas like cold chain logistics, and leveraging Yamato's reach into other international markets beyond Japan, we are making it even easier for our international brand partners to sell to China and tap into JD’s base of 236.5m active customers.”

Sales of Japanese goods JD.com’s cross-border e-commerce platform,JDWorldwide, grew by triple digits in 2016.

JD.com will also launch flagship stores for Japanese brands Akachan Honpo, Mikihouse and Omron on JD Worldwide.