“Digitising parcels is not enough” says Cainiao

“Digitising parcels is not enough” says Cainiao

Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has pledged to speed up the digitisation of China’s shipping industry and work with industry partners to create RMB 50 billion ($7.25 billion) in value for the industry over the next three years, the Alibaba Group affiliate said on Tuesday.

The plan is to roll out advanced technologies and services, such as a newly developed Internet of Things platform, across the country to enable that digitisation, Cainiao said. The platform allows partners and developers to share information and establish standard protocols to help logistics firms deploy IoT solutions at scale.

Cainiao aims to connect 100 million smart devices to its IoT technologies in three years, including its connected devices, warehouse and delivery robots and algorithm-backed management systems.

“Only through building the digital infrastructure for logistics can we truly enable and push the industry forward,” Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Group CEO and chairman of Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, said at Cainiao’s annual industry summit in Hangzhou.

While the platform’s e-shipping labels have helped partners digitally manage the flow of parcels, the real opportunity lies in digitising all components of the logistics value chain, Zhang said.

“Digitising parcels is not enough,” he said. “We are working with partners to digitise warehouses, equipment, transportation vehicles [and] warehouse pickers’ handheld devices.”

The improvement of consumer services is also critical part of its RMB 50 billion goal. Cainiao wants to leverage its package-tracking and shipping-services app, “Cainiao Guoguo,” to enhance the ordering and delivery experience. The app allows consumers to automatically fill out shipping details and track parcels in real-time on their smartphones. They can also book package pickups for shipping, with couriers, on average, arriving in an hour.

In three years, Cainiao and its partners expect the Guoguo app to serve Chinese consumers more than 1 billion times a year, Wan said.

Cainiao will also continue to expand its “Cainiao Post” pick-up stations, jointly rolled out with express-delivery partners, to cut down last-mile delivery costs. Embedded within communities – with some located in schools and residential areas, while others are attached to convenience stores and China’s ubiquitous fruit shops – the pick-up stations offer free storage and make package pick-up as easy as a click on the Guoguo app. Cainiao Posts currently processes about one in every 10 packages generated on Alibaba’s e-commerce sites Taobao and Tmall each day. Cainiao said it would expand the pick-up station to 100,000 locations in three years.

Cainiao continues to optimise its pick-up locker designs with high-tech features, such as using AI to automatically adjust each locker space to expand overall storage capacity.

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