Delivering the dragon

Two years ago we reported that Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba was leading a consortium of companies in the development of an advanced package delivery network. The consortium set up a new company, Cainiao, to manage the network, in which they, and various financial backers, planned to invest a total of US$16 billion.

As we said at the time, the most interesting thing about the plan (other than the massive scale of the  investment) was that the network developed by Alibaba-led consortium was  to be open. Alibaba spokesman John Spelich was quoted in the South China Morning Post as saying: “We will build an information-sharing platform for all logistics players in China.”

Two years later, it seems like a good time to ask how the project is coming along. Not just in big cities where there have long been well-developed delivery networks, but all over the country. Can a Chinese consumer in a small town order something through the Taobao or Tmall websites and expect to have it delivered in a reasonable time?

Given that it is Friday, a day when we often offer cargo-related photos and videos, we will let the video below provide the answer. Yes, it’s a bit of a slickly-produced infomercial for all things Alibaba, but as you watch it, think about what is implied by what you are seeing – and remember that the Cainiao system works just as well with planes as with trucks…

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