If express delivery means getting goods there faster, then China is way out ahead when it comes to numbers. The State Post Bureau announced that in 2014, an average 10.2 express delivery packages went out for every person in China. Note that this is not the same as express mail where you pay a surcharge to add a little vooma to your snail mail.
Private Sector Dominates Express Delivery
In China, the private sector commands 85% of the express delivery market and earned 154.1 billion Yuan equating to US$25.2 billion last year. However it only earned 75% of total revenue, suggesting that competition is aggressive outside the government sector (which may have to rethink strategy if wants to retain market share).
Analysts ascribe the booming industry to the accelerating ecommerce market. Buying on the internet can be unnerving if you have no feedback after paying, and have to wait for postal delivery without knowing what is going on. Private couriers, on the other hand provide free facilities to track and trace express delivery packages. This provides a greater measure of comfort that is probably the decisive factor although it does come at a premium cost.
Day in the Life of an Express Delivery Courier
There are an estimated 35,000 express delivery providers in China, ranging from small, one-person operations to international giants DHL, FedEx, UPS, TNT and EMS. The latter dominate urban centres, while in rural areas consumers rely of local services to complete the last leg of the journey. China Daily Europe ran a cameo of one of these named Wang Kexin illustrated here, whose ‘fleet’ comprises one three-wheeler delivery motorcycle, a pair of leg guards, and a helmet.
Wang leaves home by 8 a.m. each morning to deliver ecommerce orders door to door in Maolin Township in Northeast China’s Jilin province. The 31-year-old is positive about what he is doing. According to him, “If we didn’t deliver the goods, those living in remote villages would have to go a long way to fetch their parcels in town, which is troublesome and time-consuming.”
Traditional Express Delivery Services Under Threat
A typical express delivery day for Wang means travelling an average 140 kilometres to deliver 30 parcels in the course of 8 to 9 hours. The wind has taken toll of his eyesight but he persists because this is his living and to an extent his calling. He is a popular and appreciated figure. If Alibaba’s decision to build 100,000 village-level express delivery service stations takes Wang Kexin out, it will be a sad day for Maolin Township residents.