BEIJING – In China, logistics firms are working round the clock to deliver the 1.5 billion packages that wait piled up in warehouses after hundreds of millions of Chinese people shopped online on Singles’ Day.
The shopping extravaganza, also known as 11.11, is a huge challenge as well as an opportunity for all “kuaidis,” or delivery executives, who are briefed by their employers with almost military precision to deal with a workload that is three times higher than normal, according to figures from the state postal authority.
“On 11.11, a person can deliver between 600-700 packages. It starts from 6:00 in the morning and continues until 10:00 in the night,” an employee of Tiantian Express, who did not want to be named, told EFE.
The shopathon had broken all records on Saturday, when in just 24 hours more than 850 million orders, worth 168.2 billion yuan (about $25.38 billion), were placed on the site of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, a whopping 42.6 percent more than in 2016.
The same day, 331 million packages were delivered by Chinese courier companies, while the rest – around 1.5 billion – will be delivered by Thursday.
However, working under pressure is usual for delivery executives in China whose pay is linked to the amount of packages they deliver.
“I have no time to eat,” said another delivery executive, explaining that he has to deliver, between 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, more than a 100 packages daily.
Delivery executives on tricycles ply the streets of Beijing daily, often taking advantage of breaks between packages to sneak in a nap on the street, on the sidewalk or even inside their vehicles.
“The pressure is not just 11.11. Every day we work under pressure because the more packages we deliver, the more money we make,” said a kuaidi.
Each package earns them around 1.7 yuan, which is why Singles’ Day is also an opportunity for them to make more than the usual 3,500 yuan that they normally earn in a month.
Logistics firms also hire more people to cope with increased deliveries during this massive online shopping day and offer incentives to employees.
Logistics firms have also started experimenting with automated order management systems.
This year, Cainiao, the logistics network of Alibaba, set up several automatic warehouses in different parts of the country, including in Guangdong province, where some 200 robots help in processing the more than one million shipments per day.
The company also set up additional order offices around the world and deployed a fleet of 10 cargo planes to fly goods to Europe.
Sales during the mega shopathon were 2.5 times higher than the total registered on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States.