China’s leading online discount retailer Vipshop is on a mission. To improve the quality of life and happiness of its employees, customers, suppliers, and community, and lessen its impact on the planet.
So far, so successful. The Guangzhou-based retailer, which offers branded products to consumers throughout China at a significant discount, has bagged a prestigious place on Forbes China’s 2022 lists for Best Employer of the Year and Most Sustainable Employer of the Year.
The company is in the top 10 of Chinese companies to gain the Best Employer of the Year stamp, and in the top 20 to be selected as the most sustainable employer – ranked alongside big-name organisations like Lenovo, Ant Group, Hitachi Energy, Schneider Electric, BeiGene and Bank of China.
Founded in 2008 by entrepreneur and CKGSB alum Eric Shen, Vipshop has seen rapid growth over the last 14 years both in customer base and average revenue per customer, with Deloitte ranking the ecommerce giant second on its 2019 list of the world’s fastest-growing retailers.
Last year, the company achieved annual revenue of US$18.369bn, a 17.67% increase on 2020, with gross profit increasing by 8.6% YoY to US$3.6bn.
Vipshop, which published its first-ever ESG report in May 2022, is far more than just profit, as its recent best and most sustainable credentials prove. The retailer is putting its profits to purposeful use, investing in its people, community, and the planet.
Investment in employee development, communication, and inclusivity
With a personal learning and career development program firmly in place, Vipshop reinforced its commitment to its 8,000-strong workforce, increasing spend in 2021 on staff training by 68.57% year-on-year, and delivering 130,000 hours of instruction.
Investment in employees doesn’t stop there. With the aim of enhancing employee-leadership relationships, and creating an environment where employees feel comfortable to contribute, Vipshop delivers a range of activities, including face-to-face talks with senior management.
Named as a pilot organisation by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, the retailer has established staff service stations, offering wellness and healthcare services to staff groups, set up a staff mutual fund, and hosted activities, including family days.
National recognition of Vipshop’s sustainability credentials is not restricted to employees, with its commitment to the wider community and planet also spotlighted.
In 2021, the retailer spent more than US$51m on charitable activities, including rolling out a series of flagship public service programs dedicated to empowering women, rural revitalisation, pandemic and disaster relief, community inclusion and volunteer services.
Vipshop has expanded its in-house volunteer management program, in a move to encourage employees to fulfil their social responsibilities by participating in various community public services activities. And employees stepped up to the plate, completing more than 11,000 hours of voluntary services in 2021.
Keen to engage the wider community, the company launched a platform to encourage public participation in philanthropy. And with the support of its VIP Love Charity program and social communities, more than 30 public service initiatives were unveiled resulting in some 10.91 million members donating more than 15.6 billion VIP Love Points.
How Vipshop is delivering on sustainability
Employees are further engaged on the company’s road to sustainable development, with Vipshop communicating to the workforce the importance of energy conservation and employing them in green public service activities.
Ensuring sustainability remains core to company values, Vipshop has put in place a catalogue of initiatives. As well as establishing a leadership team committed to energy conservation and carbon reduction, in 2021, Vipshop activated a greenhouse gas accounting tool to identify all emission sources and prioritise the work that needed to be done to reduce them. This resulted in the adoption of targeted measures to cut carbon emissions.
And with its nationwide network of logistics parks that boast centralised heating and cooling systems, photovoltaic power stations, and green packaging systems, in 2021, Vipshop was able to produce 59,939 MWh of photovoltaic power, reduce the use of plastic materials by 237 tons, and achieve 100% recyclability of its plastic packaging.