AI tech helps couriers gear up for China's annual shopping spree

The race among China’s major express couriers, such as ZTO Express, YTO Express and Yunda Express, AI Tech is likely to escalate as the annual Double-11 (Nov. 11) online shopping spree approaches.

AI tech helps couriers gear up for China's annual shopping spree

Since its inception in 2009, organizers of the Double-11 shopping festival chose the special day, known as China’s Singles’ Day, to stage the nationwide shopping extravaganza. After all, one way to help people temporarily forget their singlehood is to let them participate in a frenetic shopping festival by offering them numerous discounts and coupons.

Transactions in this event have been growing for eight years straight, with the leading business-to-consumer (B2C) platform netting 168.2 billion yuan (US$24.16 billion) on Nov. 11 last year, up 39 percent year on year. However, while customers indulged in a sea of discounted products and purchased them with a simple click, many were annoyed by delays in deliveries.

“The shopping experience at the Double-11 festival is getting better and better. However, last year when a franchise delivery outlet in our neighborhood went bankrupt, our parcels did not reach us. They did not arrive even a month after our order. When we enquired with the delivery company, they said they didn’t know where the parcels were,” complained Sun Chaoru, a resident from Beijing’s Chaoyang District.

“This year, since online transactions during the Double-11 shopping festival are likely to reach a new record high, express delivery services, especially tail-end courier services, will be tested,” said Sun Kang, deputy director of the China Express Association.

To better prepare for the massive size of orders and improve the accuracy of last mile delivery, many express couriers have begun to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) such as Cloud Video Surveillance and Routing Algorithms to improve the efficiency of deliveries.

According to Li Qiang, a technician in charge of warehousing, shipping and distribution at the Cainiao Network, the logistics industry in China has more than 1,000 distribution centers, 180,000 delivery outlets and more than one million video monitoring cameras. Cainiao Network is the logistics unit of Alibaba Group, which was founded by Jack Ma Yun, the renowned Chinese billionaire.