Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Cainiao readies technology and logistics partners for China's biggest online selling day

Steve Rogerson
November 3, 2015
China-based Cainiao Logistics is gearing up logistics arrangements ready for next week’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival online sale event in an operation that will involve more than 1.7 million delivery personnel, 400,000 vehicles, 5000 warehouses and 200 airplanes.
Cainiao, the logistics affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, operates a proprietary logistics information platform providing both buyers and sellers with real-time information access. The information helps facilitate the efficient delivery of goods ordered on Alibaba’s marketplaces. During this year’s 11.11 online sale event, Cainiao will work with its logistics partners to handle deliveries on the busiest day on the shopping calendar.
This year’s 11.11 festival is shaping up to be the most international ever with more than 5000 international brands from 25 countries joining the sale, selling directly to consumers in more than 200 countries and regions through Alibaba’s China and international marketplaces.
To facilitate international deliveries, Cainiao has launched what it claims to be a hassle-free logistics service enlisting the support of 49 cross-border delivery partners who have set up 16 dedicated cross-border delivery routes and 74 warehouses that can support four million package deliveries per day. Cainiao has also made arrangements for faster customs clearance for cross-border packages via bonded warehouses while integrating logistics data sharing with local customs in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo and Guangzhou.
“The massive number of delivery orders generated from this great online shopping event really pushes us and our delivery partners to do our very best,” said Cainiao chief technology officer Ben Wang. “The extraordinary success and increasing popularity of 11.11 is a testament to the hard work and achievements of our partners and staff. By leveraging big-data technology and our extensive domestic and international logistics network, all of us stand ready to deliver world-class logistics services to our customers once again this year.”
Cainiao’s logistics information platform connects and coordinates a network of more than 3000 logistics partners in China and abroad, including delivery firms, warehouse operators and cross-border logistics companies. Collectively these service providers operate more than 176,000 delivery stations across China.
Cainiao has also established more than 300,000 pick-up stations where consumers can take delivery of online-ordered goods in more than 190 Chinese cities. In rural areas, Cainiao is working with regional last-kilometre delivery firms to ensure the logistical needs of residents are met. With the most comprehensive address database in China, Cainiao also enables courier companies to serve customers with structured and efficient last-kilometre delivery throughout much of the country.
To enable the logistics partners to achieve higher efficiency and better logistics services, Cainiao has been developing and expanding logistics applications leveraging the company’s big-data technology and algorithm capabilities. These applications include an e-waybill system that shares shipping information among delivery firms, customers and merchants; a digitised parcel sorting system, which helps logistics workers to sort packages to optimal delivery routes, reducing errors and enhancing efficiency; and parcel forecasting applications to help delivery firms beef up facilities ahead of time.
The platform approach, through which thousands of independent logistics companies work together by sharing a uniform information network, helps speed deliveries for a wide range of products to Alibaba shoppers located across China and abroad. The scalability of this network was demonstrated in last year’s 11.11 festival when Cainiao helped its partners efficiently coordinate the delivery of 278 million packages in the days after the annual sale event. That was nearly ten times the average daily volume of 30 million package deliveries generated on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces last year.
Cainiao was formerly known as China Smart Logistics. It operates a logistics information platform that provides real-time access to information for both buyers and sellers, as well as information that allows delivery service providers to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their services.