Cainiao building digital infrastructure for logistics

Cainiao building digital infrastructure for logistics

Cainiao Smart Logistics Network is looking 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, Alibaba Group said this week.

The plan is to roll-out advanced technologies and services, such as an Internet of Things platform, across the country. 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,” says Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Group CEO and Chairman at Cainiao Smart Logistics Network. “Digitising parcels is not enough. We are working with partners to digitise warehouses, equipment, transportation vehicles [and] warehouse pickers’ handheld devices.”

The company 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.

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. These currently process about one in every ten packages generated on Alibaba’s e-commerce sites Taobao and Tmall each day. 

It has also been testing out prototypes of new technologies, including artificial intelligence-powered pick-up lockers that automatically shift their storage space based on the size of parcels. An unmanned helicopter, meanwhile, recently completed a 32 km test flight between the southern provinces of Hainan and Guangdong in about 25 minutes.

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