Yesterday, during China’s biggest shopping event of the year – Singles’ Day, or “11.11” for 11 November – Alibaba made history by recording the highest revenues and order volume of all time. The event garnered US$30.8 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV) for a 27% increase from last year, and surpassed 1 billion orders during the 24-hour holiday shopping period, to be processed by its logistics network Cainiao.
As reported by our sister site, Air Cargo World, Cainiao has invested in infrastructure and technology aimed at cutting down longer delivery times, including both inbound and outbound cross-border shipments.
On the inbound side, the company has expanded its capacity by increasing its bonded warehouse footprint by 80% to 1 million square meters, and has implemented automation, robotics, and video-monitoring systems into warehouse operations. The bonded warehouses, which house specific products that have been given preferential tax treatment by the Chinese government, are used to forward stock goods nearest to the consumers most likely to order them, which helps to reduce delivery times.
On the outbound side, AliExpress, which sells Chinese goods to consumers overseas, and Tmall World, a site aimed at Chinese consumers living abroad, are taking on a bigger role in this year’s 11.11. The company chartered fifty-one flights to North America, Russia, Southeast Asia, and Western Europe, and has prepared 1,000 ocean shipping containers with goods intended buyers in Southeast Asia and other international markets.
Tmall Global, Alibaba Cloud, and Cainiao have also developed a global tracking system, which leverages Internet of Things (IoT), for overseas consumers to utilize in tracking the location of their order in real time through location-based services (LBS) and GPS technology.
In the past, the massive volume of orders placed during Singles’ Day has slowed delivery times for both domestic and overseas orders. While Chinese e-commerce consumers are accustomed to receiving orders placed on Alibaba’s platforms within one- to three-day days, orders placed during 11.11 can take one or multiple weeks to reach consumers. International orders can take up to sixty days to reach their final destination following the shopping holiday.
This year, the effects of Cainiao’s investments remain to be seen as consumers wait to receive their orders placed yesterday.