Battle stations readied for ‘Double 11’: Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao prepares for China’s ‘Singles Day’ with military-scale campaign

Company plans to use over 1.7 million delivery personnel, 400,000 vehicles, 5,000 warehouses and 200 aircraft to support massive e-commerce event on November 11

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 October, 2015, 6:44pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 October, 2015, 6:51pm

Preparations have intensified for Alibaba Group’s “Double 11” day, the world’s biggest online shopping festival slated for next month, as its affiliate Cainiao Logistics unveiled a vast operation for the campaign that could rival the size of a full-scale military exercise.

“The massive number of delivery orders [expected to be] generated from this great online shopping event really pushes us and our delivery partners to do our very best,” Cainiao chief technology officer Ben Wang said on Thursday.

Cainiao estimated that it will deploy more than 1.7 million delivery personnel, 400,000 vehicles, 5,000 warehouses and 200 aircraft to support Alibaba’s Double 11 campaign, which is held on November 11 as part of the much-anticipated Singles’ Day event in mainland China.

READ MORE: Bingo! China’s Alibaba likely to conjure up another e-sales record on ‘Double 11’ singles day after hitting US$9.3 billion last year

To speed up international deliveries, Cainiao has launched its “Hassle-free Logistics Service” - a programme supported by 49 cross-border delivery partners, which have set up 16 dedicated cross-border delivery routes and 74 warehouses to handle 4 million packages a day.

Cainiao said it has also made arrangements to expedite customs clearance for cross-border packages via bonded warehouses, while integrating logistics data-sharing with local customs agencies in the four Chinese cities of Shanghai, Hangzhou and Ningbo in Zhejiang province, and Guangzhou in southern Guangdong.

This year’s Double 11 festival is shaping up to be the most international campaign organised by Alibaba as over 5,000 international brands from 25 countries are joining the event.

These brands will be able to sell directly to consumers in more than 200 countries and regions through Alibaba’s domestic and international online shopping platforms.

According to Alibaba, this year’s campaign will have about 40,000 participating merchants from around the world and 30,000 brands offering more than 6 million different products through its various online shopping platforms, including Tmall, Taobao Marketplace, group-buying site Juhuasan and the AliExpress global retail site.

READ MORE: The genie’s out of the bottle: Ocean Spray, other foreign brands clamour to join Alibaba’s e-commerce bonanza on Nov. 11 ‘Singles Day’

Wang said Cainiao, which was established by Alibaba and a consortium of Chinese logistics companies in 2013, will leverage so-called big-data technology to deliver fast, world-class logistics services to both sellers and buyers during Double 11.

Alibaba posted total sales of US$9.3 billion, settled through its Alipay mobile and online payments platform, last November 11 as consumers from 217 countries and territories placed some 278 million orders for about a million different products during that 24-hour period.

That represented nearly 10 times the average daily volume of 30 million package deliveries generated on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces in 2013.

New York-listed Alibaba kicked off two weeks ago the upcoming seventh anniversary of its promotional festival, which will be hosted in Beijing next month.

Jefferies equity analyst Cynthia Meng said in a report that Cainiao has formed partnerships with 49 logistics providers, including Chinese firms EMS, ZTO Express and YTO Express, as well as national providers the United States Postal Service, Singapore Post and Britain’s Royal Mail.

According to Cainiao, it connects and coordinates a network of more than 3,000 partners in mainland China and overseas.

It 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-mile” delivery firms.

“Alibaba will cooperate with more than 180,000 physical stores across 330 cities nationwide to provide an online-to-offline (O2O) integrated service, offering seamless shopping experience to its customers,” Alicia Yap, the head of China internet research at Barclays, said in a report.

The O2O support from Chinese electronics retailer Suning Commerce Group, in which Alibaba recently invested US$4.63 billion to take a roughly 20 per cent stake in the company, will go live on November 11, Yap said.

Suning, which is based in Nanjing in China’s eastern Jiangsu province, has more than 1,600 stores in about 600 mainland Chinese cities.

It has also become a partner of Cainiao after Alibaba’s strategic investment. The combined logistics resources of Suning and Cainiao is expected to speed up deliveries outside of the major Chinese cities as these cover almost all of the 2,800 counties and districts in the country.

“Alibaba will have Suning warehouses help Tmall fulfil deliveries of fast-moving consumer goods on November 11,” Yap said.

“Suning will also help handle delivery of bulky items purchased from Alibaba.”