Cainiao Network, Alibaba Group’s logistics arm, deployed machine learning, robots, 100,000 additional workers and 4,000,000 mtwo of additional storage space to prepare for this year’s 11.11 retail event.
The company used machine learning to analyze purchasing patterns and other inputs to identify popular products and ensure sufficient stock. More than 80% of the orders that Cainiao handled this November 11 were bundled, packaged, and pre-shipped to local warehouses before the two pre-sale windows to improve delivery speed and reduce costs. Cainiao deployed robots to cover last-mile groundwork at some 400 university campuses in China on Nov. 11. Its fleet of 700 Xiaomanlv automated guided vehicles (AGVs) has doubled in size since the 2021 festival. The company was also supported by a network of collection points to serve customers in hard-to-reach areas.
Cainiao used more than 400 cargo routes to ship goods from around the world directly to China, from charter flights and sea freight to rail express. On top of this, the company hired an additional 100,000 workers, most stationed at community-level delivery stations, to ease the burden and ensure packages reach consumers promptly. Cainiao prepared 4,000,000mtwo of additional storage space in 20 Chinese cities. Merchants could reserve a space seven days in advance if their current warehouses were to close due to Covid-19 policies. According to the company, the speed and improved services increased business sales, particularly for the weighing of goods.
As a result of these preparations, Cainiao shortened the time between payment and fulfillment by three hours compared to 2021 for orders generated in the first sales window of 11.11. The period between the sellers sending the product and the completion of the delivery has also been reduced by about five hours. However, supply chains remained under strain. In China, retailers faced complex and evolving Covid-19 pandemic restrictions that have complicated last-mile logistics and reduced daily deliveries.
Domestic logistics companies handled a daily average of 389 million packages during the 2022 11.11 event, compared with about 425 million per day during the 2021 shopping festival, according to data from China’s Ministry of Transportation. In general, the platform reduced international delivery times. Its expedited delivery services fulfilled 80% of the orders customers placed with around 40,000 international brands on Alibaba’s cross-border B2C marketplace Tmall Global in 2022.
Li Wuchang, Cainiao 11.11 Operations Leader, said, “It’s all about speed and service for retailers and customers. We have done our best to ensure the speed and quality of our services. We expanded our investment in technology facilities, and savings from increased efficiencies were used to facilitate more home deliveries for consumers. Parcel collection stations in China often operate like mom-and-pop stores, with minimal labor resources to fulfill home deliveries. Better service will help us win consumer loyalty when we face competition in today’s sluggish market.”