Express delivery industry to realise standardised operation

China's express delivery industry has made considerable progress after 20 years of development since it was initiated in 1987. Statistics show there has been 2,422 legal enterprises engaged in express delivery service, with 227,000 employees by the end of 2006; a total of 1.06 billion pieces have been sent via express delivery, generating a total of revenue of RMB30 billion, which are 693 times and 375 times respectively the figures in 1987.

An overview of the development of express delivery industry shows that no matter the major industry players, staff or the total service amount, all of them have kept an annual growth of 20 percent. Express delivery industry sees rapid growth in scale, and the demand is very vast.

Furthermore, the express delivery industry also presents huge development potential and broad market prospect. The market share of express delivery in the economically developed eastern China has accounted above 2/3 of that national total. There are also broad markets on the secondary markets and in middle and western China

Express delivery companies have improved their service capabilities greatly. The housing construction area, production area, and the number of outlets owned by the express delivery companies have increased greatly, with a total of 50,000 sets of transport facilities. Moreover, the investment for computer and mobile phone has also significantly increased, attaining 53.1 percent and 119.8 percent respectively. Therefore, the informatization processing level from mail collecting and sorting out, to mail delivery and inquiry service have been upgraded effectively, giving strong material support for the improvement of service capabilities of express delivery industry.

With the increased input for employees, fund technologies and rapid expansion of network, express delivery companies have expanded and perfected their services. Newly added services include door-to-door mail collection, timely delivery, as well as tracking inquiry services. A survey shows that there are about 30 percent of companies providing both domestic and international services, while 90 percent providing inquiry service in 2006.

Diversified forms of competition have come into being. The market situation in which state-owned enterprises, private enterprises and foreign-funded enterprises are taking equal foothold has formed. The main players in the express delivery business show a diversified trend.

Each type of express delivery enterprises has its own advantage. The revenue of inland express business of state-owned express delivery enterprises accounts for 64.1 percent of the total revenue of the inland express business. Meanwhile, private enterprises see rapid increase in urban express business grows rapidly, and foreign-funded enterprises took the lead in the international express delivery sector in 2006.

China's express delivery industry develops rapidly and keeps a record of 25 percent in annual growth, and will continue a significant growth in the next ten years. It is a promising industry as the new force suddenly rises in China's service industry.

Since China's express delivery industry is lacked of a clear market accession system, standards and norms for the restriction and evaluation of the service quality of enterprises for a long time. Different service quality level exists in enterprises, consumers' rights and interests are not guaranteed basically and consumers' complaints have kept rising.

In 2006, "3.15" Complaining Network received 3525 complaint cases. The reported cases of complaint increased from 53 to 503 from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. The complaints are focused on such fields as service attitude, delay, loss, damage, etc.

After collecting the suggestions and opinions from the public, the China State Post Bureau has formulated the Express Service postal industrial standards which are expected to be put into practice on Jan. of 2008.

To tackle the existing hotspots and tough problems which possibly harm consumers' rights and interests in the express delivery market, the newly issued Express Service standard proposed corresponding service standards in detail, for example, the detailed compensation requirements is proposed for the first time. Consumers may give the specific reasons of the claim for compensation, and propose the corresponding compensation principle in regard to delay, loss, damage or unconformity of delivered pieces and set the time for express delivery companies to handle claim for compensation and make compensation payment.

The first industry standards are welcomed widely as it will help clear out and standardize the clauses that override on customers' rights within the express delivery industry.

Local consumers' associations, express delivery associations and state-owned express delivery companies believe that the promulgation of the standards may play a significant role in promoting harmonious consumption in express delivery industry, ensuring the lawful income of express delivery companies and regulating the express delivery service. Efforts will be devoted to promote standardized operation within the industry and concrete implementation of the standards.

The standards have almost no impact on express delivery in service MNCs whose advantages lie in their safety and time efficiency. In Sept, UPS claimed to have a superior time-efficiency than the Chinese counterparts when it initiated the EMS service.

Industry experts analyzed that after the entry of international express delivery giants, domestic enterprises will lose its low labor cost advantage, and the express delivery faces uncertainties ahead in the next 5 years

Express Service Standards, as the recommended industrial standards, will be used as a guideline for regulating courier service industry. The standards will become the basis for supervision, evaluation and regulation of courier service companies' operational activities, so as to guide express service companies onto right track to realize healthy development.

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