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China Daily Global / 2021-04 / 15 / Page009

AliExpress doubles down on logistics for global edge

By HE WEI in Shanghai | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-04-15 00:00

AliExpress, Alibaba Group's business-to-customer or B2C site that sells consumer goods to overseas markets, is doubling down on logistics this year to drive "robust growth" as more foreign buyers become accustomed to online shopping amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

Measures include nearly doubling monthly chartered flights with logistics firm Cainiao to 300, expanding overseas warehouses to six countries, including the United Kingdom and Germany, and adding two domestic warehouse hubs in East China and Central China to reduce delivery time and trim costs for merchants, said Wang Mingqiang, Alibaba vice-president and general manager of AliExpress.

"We recorded much faster user growth last year compared with previous years," Wang said in an interview with China Daily on Tuesday.

He attributed the growth trajectory to relatively low e-commerce penetration rates in overseas markets, the wide variety of products available on AliExpress and a high level of cost-efficiency of these offerings.

AliExpress identified seven regions as its areas of focus for the next three to five years, including Russia, Spain and France where the company has already had a strong foothold, as well as the likes of South Korea and Brazil that are just taking off.

For instance, in France and Spain where gross merchandise volume saw nearly three-digit growth in the last fiscal year, 80 percent of cross-border parcels can be delivered to customers within 10 days.

The duration is further shortened to three to seven days if popular items are pre-stored at overseas warehouses and can be dispatched outright.

Brazil also saw the firm's user numbers jump tenfold in the past year, but AliExpress did not disclose the actual figures. Despite the long distance, direct parcel delivery from China to Brazil can be done within 12 days in certain metropolitan areas of the South American country.

"The overseas e-commerce landscape is still not penetrated fully. We are in the upward stage, just like the rising sun," Wang said.

AliExpress' network of domestic storage centers and overseas warehouses help merchants such as computer seller Teclast accelerate delivery to buyers while maintaining relatively low costs, said Shi Enrong, a sales manager for its cross-border e-commerce business.

"In the past, our products like tablet computers were seen as 'fragile' gadgets that can't be accepted by many other logistics providers," he said. "Now with 95 percent of our products are stored in the two types of warehouses under AliExpress, faster delivery is certainly a boost to customer trust and thus facilitates better shopping experience."

Other endeavors to grow the business include offering what Wang called "quasi-localization "service, which refers to combining local needs with certain e-commerce best practices in China.

For instance, Wang said the platform is introducing a pre-refund mechanism so that customers get refund first should a problem of merchandise quality occur. Algorithms and big data are also in place to recommend the most relevant merchants to customers, based on season, geography and even religious rituals.

"We saw sales via AliExpress quadruple last year, and we are even looking to grow six times this year," said Wang Kai, overseas marketing director of Dreame, which sells handheld vacuum cleaners mostly overseas and views countries like Spain and France as key regions of business.

According to data released by the General Administration of Customs, the country's cross-border exports and imports soared 31.1 percent to reach 1.69 trillion yuan last year, shoring up trade momentum amid uncertainties from COVID-19.


AliExpress employees work at the company's headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. The firm plans to expand business in South Korea and Brazil in the coming years. REUTERS


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