The SF Express experience was the outlier in our race, because rather than finding an SF depot the Cargo Facts team used the SF Express App to bring a courier to our location for shipment pickup. We visited a Shanghai hotel to give the courier a destination, and were told by hotel staff that they could help us arrange domestic shipments directly, but could not help with our international shipment. The courier arrived at our location within only about three minutes of our own arrival.
The SF courier warned that our package (which included a wood product in the form of souvenir chopsticks) may not be allowed through US customs without a certificate for the wood type, but we elected to go ahead with the shipment regardless, and were told to expect a delivery time of about one week. Shipment to the US required a passport and a separate form than required for domestic shipments.The courier scanned the shipping form into the app and uploaded a photo of our goods to facilitate the customs process, and departed on his scooter about 13 minutes after his arrival at the hotel. At 220 RMB, this was our most expensive shipment.
Shenzhen-based SF Express operates the largest freighter fleet of any Chinese express company, with 41 freighters in its own-operated network. As can be seen from the network map below, none of these freighter flights connect China and the US. That could change, however, when the company introduces two 747-400ERFs it purchased in an auction last year on Taobao.
In October of last year, SF Express and UPS received regulatory approval for a joint-venture that would “leverage the assets of both companies to enhance, and provide a wider range of international delivery services.” Initially, the jv was said to focus on providing e-commerce merchants in China better access to the US market by focusing on deliveries moving from China to the United States. With the joint venture now operational, we would not be surprised if UPS played a role in handling the SF Express delivery.