China to ship 3 billion packages during post-COVID Singles Day

Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com have once again claimed to have set records at the world’s biggest business event, Singles Day. The numbers can often be played on to paint a rosy picture of perpetual growth, journalists and analysts have observed for a long time, so they are limited measures to measure the performance of companies or the purchasing power of Chinese consumers in period of COVID-19.

Nevertheless, the heavy workload of express couriers is undoubtedly real and visible.

From the second week of November, I noticed packages started to pile up outside my apartment in downtown Shenzhen, waiting for their last home delivery. Couriers would rush into elevators, tossing cartons of items that shoppers were buying at a discount or after being tricked by an elaborate sales formula into thinking they were getting a good deal.

Singles Day will see 2.97 billion packages delivered across China between November 11 and 16, during which time merchants will begin shipping after a pre-sale period, according to a notice from the National Post Office. This marks a 28% increase over the previous year and doubles the normal daily volume.

It also means that, on average, every person in China should receive more than two packages during the shopping session. They will also receive a lot of e-commerce waste, from cardboard and tape to bubble wrap. JD.com and Alibaba’s logistics arm, Cainiao, have rolled out programs to make online shopping more sustainable.

As coronavirus infections continue to climb in many countries, China has had few local transmissions for months. As such, the pandemic had a limited impact on the speed of delivery on Singles Day this year, JD.com and Alibaba told TechCrunch.

Yet companies have rolled out new rules to ensure safety and speed. JD.com, for example, has claimed it disinfects its delivery stations and trucks and requires workers to wear masks and take their temperatures daily, practices that are now standard in the country’s logistics industry. The presale also enabled it to allocate stocks in advance as close as possible to consumers. He said 93% of shipping orders fulfilled by his own logistics system were completed within 24 hours.

Alibaba, on the other hand, said it has added more contactless facilities such as unmanned warehouses and delivery vehicles. Its self-service parcel distributors now have nearly 20,000 units in 150 cities across the country.

The story was updated on November 13, 2020 with information from Alibaba.

About Monty S. Maynard

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