In preparation for Alibaba’s 11.11 Shopping Festival, Cainiao, the logistics arm of Alibaba, is leveraging a series of initiatives and advanced technologies to help cope with the influx of deliveries.
Last year, the one-day event brought in US$25.3bn in gross merchandise volume (GMV) – more than two times the size of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. As a result, Cainiao delivered more than 812 million packages in the days that followed.
“Consumers increasingly want faster, better delivery, so that’s what we’re doing,” said Ben Wang, Cainiao vice president. “This year, we’re striving to achieve a new high, leveraging the beauty of scale and technology.”
Among the recent developments is Cainiao’s new automated warehouse in Wuxi, China. It is part of the company’s Future Park logistics complex, run by Internet of Things (IoT) applications, big data, edge computing and artificial intelligence.
Powered by IoT connectivity, the warehouse uses 700 robots, or automated guided vehicles (AGVs), to fulfill customer orders. The system directs the AGVs to drive, load and unload while planning the best routes to distribute parcels and avoid collision. According to Cainiao, the robots enable 50% more orders to be processed within a given time period than a traditional warehouse.
Cainiao’s Sky Eye Program, a cloud-based, video-monitoring system, will also be used by the company’s logistics partners for 11.11. Leveraging computer vision technology and algorithms, Sky Eye monitors warehouse operations to look for kinks in the logistics process, and sends updates to workers so that they can be fixed in real time.
In addition, Cainiao has partnered with 15 major Chinese express-courier companies to crunch logistics data so that manpower and transportation are used more efficiently in the 200,000 delivery stations being used to support 11.11.
AliExpress, which sells Chinese goods to consumers overseas, and Tmall World, a site aimed at Chinese consumers living abroad, are also expected to take on a bigger role in this year’s 11.11 event. In expectation of an increase in cross-border shipments, Cainiao has chartered 51 flights to Western Europe, Russia and Southeast Asia, as well as 1,000 shipping containers set for buyers in Southeast Asia and other destinations by sea.
On the inbound side, Cainiao has prepared bonded warehouses across China that cover over 1,000,000m2, which is 80% more than the year before. The bonded warehouses, which house specific products that have been given preferential tax treatment by the Chinese Government, will be used to store goods at warehouses nearest to the consumers most likely to order them, which helps cut delivery times.
To watch an interview with Ben Wang, Cainiao vice president, to learn more about the company’s preparations, click here.