A courier loads packages for delivery using an electric bicycle in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. (Photo : Getty Images)
Courier companies in China have made early preparations to meet the projected rise in delivery on Singles' Day, the world's biggest online shopping festival in 2016, which falls on Friday, Nov. 11, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The industry is expected to handle about 1.05 billion packages for the much-awaited event this year, up 35 percent year on year, based on Alibaba's Cainiao logistics network forecast.
Alibaba's Singles' Day event has overshadowed other similar events in the U.S. such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year, about $13.5 billion worth of goods were sold by Alibaba on its online payments platform.
As part of their preparations, some express courier companies in China have renovated their delivery networks to enable them to cover long-distance and high-volume deliveries.
According to Wang Wenbin, chief technology officer of Cainiao, a series of new digital solutions was adopted by the company to help monitor, distribute and track down e-commerce deliveries.
"The new technology helps capture and collect orders from certain regions so that logistics firms can arrange the distribution and loading facilities to improve efficiency by at least 10 hours," Wang was quoted as saying.
Yunda Express, a China courier firm has added about 10,000 delivery vehicles to adapt with the additional demand, the report said.
A 200-meter automatic line was also installed in the company's logistic center in Shanghai to "smart sort" the packages, the company said.
Across the sector, most companies are looking for delivery staff and almost all major delivery companies have sent out recruitment notices ahead of Friday's event, the report said.
Some companies offer delivery staff applicants with a monthly salary that ranges between 5,000 yuan ($739) and 8,000 yuan, which is on par with salaries for university graduates.
During major Chinese holidays such as Spring Festival and other busy events such as Singles' Day, the need for couriers is high while the supply is short.
Gao Zhenhai, secretary general of the Shanghai Express Industry Association, said that it has become a big challenge for courier services to deliver the huge number of packages to shoppers in a few days, especially during Singles' Day when online shopping revenue is expected to grow.
At last year's Singles' Day, the purchases amounted to 780 million packages, while courier services handled maximum daily deliveries that reached 160 million.
To help courier services cope with this year's shopping extravaganza, the country's railway transport network has opened a special services dubbed the "E-Commerce Golden Week" service. From Nov. 11 to 20, China Railway's high-speed trains, which traverse 505 cities, will provide express services to courier companies.
At least three daily trips will run from Nov. 11 to 20, connecting Shenzhen with Beijing, under an agreement signed by the Guangzhou Railway (Group) Corp with express firms, JD Express, STO Express, SF Express and YT Express, the report said.