Zhang was born in Anhui Province in 1963. He graduated from the Nanjing Normal University and studied Chinese literature. After graduation, Zhang first worked in a cloth factory named Haowei Group between 1985~1989.
1990, Zhang together with his old brother Zhang Guiping opened a shop on Ninghai Road in Nanjing, selling air conditioning and related products. Later Zhang Guiping quitted from this business but shifted into real estate.
Zhang further developed his small shop into a giant business group - the Suning Group, with only 15 years. In 2007's Forbes Mainland China Rich List , Zhang was ranked No.5 with 33.61 billion .