Cainiao Smart Logistics Network breaks its own delivery-speed record for this year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, shaving nearly five hours from the time required to deliver the first 100 million packages in 2017.
It took 2.6 days for the first 100 million parcel deliveries versus 2.8 days last year, the Alibaba Group-owned Cainiao said, even as the total number of 11.11 delivery orders processed reached 1.04 billion, exceeding 1 billion for the first time and ending well above last year’s 812 million.
Equally impressive is the fact that the 2.6 day figure has come down from a full nine days that it took to deliverer the first million parcels in 2013, when total package numbers were only 152 million.
While still falling short of Alibaba CEO, Jack Ma’s oft stated goal of delivering all packages inside China within 24 hours and within 72 hours to the rest of the world, the Cainiao logistics arm is making impressive progress.
Both the improved speed and record number of orders processed are milestones for Cainiao, which said before the event that it had undergone systems and technology upgrades to improve efficiency and its capacity to handle over a billion packages amid consumer demand for ever-faster delivery.
Cainiao says the parcel-delivery results for the world’s largest one-day shopping festival signal what’s likely to become a typical day’s delivery in the not-too-distant future, and its task is to ensure its systems keep up.
“We handled 152 million parcels during the 11.11 festival in 2013. Today, the industry is now delivering 150 million parcels every single day in China. With this pace of change, we believe that the 1 billion parcels handled in this year’s 11.11 will become the daily average within the next decade,” says Wan Lin, president of Cainiao.
“Through nonstop technological innovation and open collaboration, we want our smart logistics network to serve as a robust infrastructure to help the industry meet future needs.”
For this year’s 11.11, Cainiao updated systems, including opening China’s largest robotic warehouse. It employed advance route-planning and matched inventory allocation with consumer demand to maximize utilization, avoid bottlenecks and accelerate the pace of deliveries.
For the first time, a high-speed, local-to-local delivery network enabled 11.11 orders to be delivered directly from stores to customers, in some cases. For example, the first cup of Starbucks coffee during the 11.11 promotion was delivered by Ele.me to a customer in Shanghai in just over nine minutes after the festival’s midnight start.
Cainiao also showed sharp improvement in its cross-border logistics capabilities. In this year’s 11.11, 5 million import parcels were processed through customs clearance within less than five hours, compared to around eight hours and 57 hours to process the same amount in 2017 and 2016, respectively.
Cainiao and its partners arranged for bonded warehouses covering over one million square meters nationwide ahead of 11.11. This network, China’s largest, enabled international brands to store goods at their closest point to consumers, cutting delivery time.
Consumers in over 251 cities in China received their 11.11 overseas orders within same-day or next-day, largely due to Cainiao’s upgraded logistics.
Cainiao is also working on the environmental front, leveraging its self-developed, smart-packaging technologies to reduce wasted materials due to overpacking. Those technologies cut the amount of wasted materials by 15 per cent and helped to improve packaging efficiency for more than 510 million parcels, Cainiao says.
“All sellers have to do is to insert the length, height and width of their products and the order history, and the system will automatically recommend the right size,” says Wang Pan, head of the Cainiao Logistics Cloud division, which provides enterprise solutions such as the smart-packaging algorithm. “When a new order comes in, it will suggest a box that matches the area of the shipments, as well as the order in which the box should be packed and item combinations.”
Cainiao also rolled out 5,000 recycling stations for unwanted shipping boxes at its delivery points, schools and commercial buildings in 200 Chinese cities. That’s up from only 10 cities last year, and, until today, more than 3.5 million boxes have been recycled, the company adds.