How online buying sprees like Singles’ Day push up courier salaries and cardboard prices
The hottest job market in China right now is for delivery people, with the upcoming Singles’ Day online promotion forcing courier companies to offer lucrative incentives to attract enough staff to cope with an expected surge of 1.5 billion packages in a single week.
Job postings for delivery guys have flooded Chinese recruitment websites recently, with offers of both permanent and part-time positions with monthly salaries of up to 10,000 yuan (US$1,507) or more.
On Ganji.com, a mainland Chinese recruitment site, ads from major courier companies like YTO Express cite the “urgent need” for more delivery staff, offering salaries starting from 8,000 yuan in first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai, as well as added benefits like free meals and accommodation.
A hiring post for Deppon Logistics even pointed out that it was a good time to join the company because the upcoming Singles’ Day shopping spree would ensure a monthly income of more than 10,000 yuan.
Besides the third-party courier companies, e-commerce platforms in China are also expanding their in-house delivery teams to cope with the expected boom in demand.
In Beijing, appliance retailer Suning is adding 300 more delivery people while staff across its 94 offline retail stores will also be deployed to deliver goods for consumers to ensure efficiency for the upcoming shopping spree, according to local Chinese media reports.
The number of overall package deliveries is expected to surge 35 per cent year on year, reach 1.5 billion units between November 11 and 16, China’s State Post Bureau said on November 1, adding that delivery firms on average would handle up to three times their daily workload during the Singles’ Day sales period.
Although e-commerce giants such as Alibaba and JD.com have been using artificial intelligence, big data and warehouse robotics to increase logistics efficiency, the last mile delivery still requires human couriers to get packages into the hands of individual consumers.
The booming e-commerce industry, driven by various online shopping festivals in China, have not only boosted the pay of delivery people, but also prices of cardboard used for packaging.
The cost of cardboard has reportedly more than doubled from a year ago. In response, some small online merchandisers have increased the cut off mark for free delivery to compensate for the rising cost of cardboard.
In October Chinese express firms including ZTO Express and Yunda Express indicated they were looking at raising delivery prices, citing the erosion of profit margins due to surging labour costs, rents and higher cardboard prices.