Advanced tech, faster cross-border deliveries lift Singles’ Day sales to new records

By Zhang Hongpei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/12 23:18:39

Improved technology, customs procedures a big help: analysts

Workers scan packages at a local distribution center in Lianyungang, East China's Jiangsu Province on Monday. Photo: IC

Thanks to advanced technologies and more efficient customs clearance procedures in cross-border e-commerce trade, Chinese consumers were able to receive their goods in a much shorter time after the Singles' Day shopping festival this year.

A total of 1.352 billion express orders went through the main e-commerce platforms on Sunday, up 25.12 percent year-on-year, and a record high of 416 million orders were handled by post courier services companies, up 25.68 percent from last year, data from the State Post Bureau showed on Monday.

Tmall, a platform owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, broke through the 1 billion order mark at 23:18 on Sunday, according to a statement that Alibaba sent to the Global Times on Monday.

The number of 1 billion is roughly equal to the quantity of parcels that would be ordered in 20 days in the US or in four months in the UK, said the statement, and it also equals the total number of packages delivered back in 2006 in China.

"Faced with seas of orders when the peak shopping season comes, China's express delivery sector has dealt with the pressure by ramping up efforts in technology research and human resources," Xu Yong, a delivery industry analyst, told the Global Times Monday.

"This year's parcel handling ability has been significantly improved from last year," said Xu.

More full-cargo jets and high-speed railway lines are now available to carry the parcels, while high-tech logistics applications such as automated and intelligent sorting as well as unmanned warehouses have all contributed to the efficiency of the delivery process, Xu explained.

As well as the upgrades for parcel handling domestically, goods imported via cross-border e-commerce platforms have also seen much faster delivery speeds thanks to more efficient customs clearance.

The China (Hangzhou) Cross-border E-commerce Pilot Zone received a total number of 5.75 million orders for imported goods on Sunday, up 66.7 percent from last year, Li Han, a customs officer at the Hangzhou Economic and Technological Development Area, told the Global Times Monday.

Li said Hangzhou Customs has invested nearly 10 million yuan ($1.44 million) to develop the cross-border e-commerce customs management system as well as an intelligent internet of things system and big data analytics.

Hangzhou Customs was the first in the country to realize paperless customs clearance back in 2012, which enabled the order handling ability to surge from 50,000 units to 500,000 units within an hour, according to Li.

Xu noted that China's customs are obviously improving their work efficiency year by year. "The China International Import Expo also helped Chinese customs to accumulate related experience in exports and imports," Xu said.

Leading services

Alibaba's Singles' Day shopping extravaganza generated more than $4.68 billion in sales within 10 minutes on November 11. By comparison, US e-commerce giant Amazon's total sales reached $4.2 billion for its 36-hour Prime Day in July this year, US media outlet Business Insider reported on Saturday, citing Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc.

"China's express delivery sector currently has the best cost performance in the world," Xu remarked, adding that the sector's labor costs are low compared with developed countries.

It took nine days for the first 100 million packages to be delivered by Chinese courier firms in 2013, but in 2017 it only took 2.8 days, media reports said.

"Future trends must be focused on more smart technologies and less labor," Xu said.

Newspaper headline: Singles’ Day sales test logistics

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