Cainiao Network, Alibaba Group's logistics arm, said it is delivering more than 200 million packages to consumers' doorsteps for the 11.11 shopping festival, with over 120 million already delivered and 80 million on their way.
"It's all about speed and service for retailers and customers," said Li Wuchang, who leads Cainiao's 11.11 operations.
For orders generated in the first sales window of 11.11, Cainiao noted that it shortened the time between payment and fulfilment by over 3 hours compared with last year.
The period between product dispatch by sellers and delivery completion also narrowed by almost five hours.
Cainiao noted that supply chains remain under strain, and in China, particularly, retailers faced complex, changeable pandemic-related restrictions that complicated final-mile logistics and dragged down daily deliveries.
Domestic logistics companies handled a daily average of 389 million parcels during this 11.11, compared with roughly 425 million per day over last year's shopping festival, per China's Ministry of Transportation data.
"We expanded our investment in technology installations, and the savings from increased efficiency were used to facilitate more doorstep deliveries for consumers," said Li.
The platform noted that it has also managed to reduce international delivery times.
Its expedited delivery services fulfilled 80% of the orders customers placed with close to 40,000 international brands on Alibaba’s cross-border B2C marketplace Tmall Global this year.
For its last-mile delivery, Cainiao said it deployed 700 robots to cover last-mile leg work on some 400 university campuses in China during 11.11.
The fleet of Xiaomanlv automated guided vehicles (AGVs) has doubled in size from last year’s festival and received support from a network of pickup stations to serve customers in hard-to-reach areas.
"The parcel pickup stations in China are often operated as mom-and-pop stores, with minimal labour resources to fulfil doorstep deliveries," Li added.
Meanwhile, this year, Cainiao used over 400 cargo routes to ship goods from across the globe directly to China, from chartered flights and sea freights to railway expresses.
"Having backup plans, even domestically, has been quite important. Because you don't know at any moment factories could be closed because of COVID policies and labour not being able to move in and out," said James Yang, partner at consultancy Bain & Co.
The Chinese e-commerce launched 11.11 preparations in August and had 95% of its China-bound supplies across two local warehouses by mid-October. Each situated in a different province, the two sites could support each other in case of emergencies.
“There are lots of uncertainties. Consumers may stock up on more baby formulas if a lockdown prevails in their city. Two warehouses provide some assurance. If one gets closed, the other can be a backup."
Likewise, Cainiao prepared four million square meters of extra warehousing space in 20 Chinese cities.