A Sneak Peek into Alibaba’s Logistics Prep Ahead of Single’s Day 2020

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Single’s Day, Guanggun Jie, or Bare Sticks Holiday, celebrated on November 11 every year, is one of the biggest commercial holidays across the world. Originally, Single’s Day was started in 1993 by university students at Nanjing University in China as a celebration of singlehood, marked by purchasing gifts and going out for parties. 11:11 was the chosen date for this celebration as it resembles four solo bare sticks, representing the state of being single. 

In 2009, Alibaba took this singles’ festival a notch higher, by launching the annual Single’s Day Sale, a 24-hour online shopping bonanza with great deals and steep discounts on a wide range of products, from apparel, fashion accessories, home appliances, electronics, and even cars! Today, Single’s Day is a mega festive sale day in not just China, but in several parts of the world including the rest of Southeast Asia, India, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, and the USA. 

Alibaba’s 2019 Single’s Day sales were more than $38 billion, a 26% increase over the previous year’s then-record of $31 billion, greater than Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day combined. Over 200,000 brands participated, including over 22,000 brands from 78 countries, and one million new products were launched.

This year, despite the economic damage caused by the Coronavirus pandemic and the slow rate of growth in retail, Alibaba has announced that the usual 24-hour sale will be upgraded to a bigger “shopping carnival” — a six-week seasonal sale, starting October 1. This will allow shoppers to explore the best of Single’s Day deals for a longer period of time, rather than the frenzied 24-hour timeline. 

At least 250,000 brands, 5 million small and medium-sized businesses, new domestic businesses, foreign trade companies, factories, and agricultural businesses are expected to participate in this year’s event.

It looks like another explosive, record-breaking year for Alibaba in terms of revenue this year. However, the pressure on the E-commerce giant and its partner retailers in ensuring flawless, on-time deliveries of millions of parcels to over 800 million shoppers is huge. 

Efficient logistics and last-mile operations will be crucial in fulfilling customer expectations. Alibaba carries out its Single’s Day distribution and last-mile delivery operations with the help of Cainiao, its logistics arm. 

According to reports, Cainiao’s preparations are going on in full swing ahead of the Single’s Day shopping bonanza. Cainiao states that its supply chains were upgraded before the festival, and automated predictions are being put to use to shorten stocking time, improve inventory turnover, and throw out more targeted warehouse divisions, stock preparations, and replenishment proposals.

The logistics firm has also opened a warehouse in Wuxi, a city in the east of China, equipped with more than 700 robots that will be able to use automated driving technology to pick up a parcel and deliver it to another section of the warehouse where delivery agents can collect it. 

“We will work to enhance the accuracy and matching rate of supply chains, so as to help merchants better retain their inventories and get packages to consumers faster,” said Huang Wei, manager of Cainiao’s domestic supply chains.

Cainiao also said that for 2020’s Single’s Day, it would deploy new energy vehicles to 100 cities in China and apply AI algorithms to drive smart routing in 40,000 villages and shorten the average length of delivery journeys by 30% in rural areas. 

These innovative steps taken by Alibaba ahead of the Single’s Day sales are indicative of the fact that Artificial Intelligence and technology-driven logistics infrastructure is essential for E-commerce enterprises to successfully fulfill customer expectations, reduce operating costs and remain competitive in the market, especially during peak season sales like the Single’s Day.

AI-led logistics is transforming supply chains worldwide and it’s time for E-commerce companies, retailers, and E-tailers to optimize their logistics and reduce hidden costs in transportation and distribution operations. 

Logistics technology such as route optimization enables brands to process the dispatching of millions of orders within minutes, automating delivery route planning, and task allocation to delivery agents. Similarly, last-mile tracking solutions allow logistics managers to be on top of delivery operations, ensure on-time deliveries, and share live order status with customers. 

Locus offers a range of AI-led logistics solutions to optimize last-mile deliveries in E-commerce. Get in touch with our experts for a free tour of our services.

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