Alibaba eyes logistics growth in LatAm as China commerce slows • TechCrunch

Cainiao, Alibaba’s logistics arm, is away from home looking to expand its business. The company recently opened its first parcel distribution center in Brazil, adding to its network of regional sorting centers in Mexico and Chile, the company said Monday.

Alibaba’s e-commerce business in China was hurt by a combination of a cooling economy and aggressive rivals like Pinduoduo. For the first time, the firm do not disclose sales figures for the annual “Singles Day” shopping festival, which falls on November 11 and was once accompanied by a Super Bowl-like gala that featured pop idols and Jack Ma himself.

Cainiao has followed AliExpress overseas, helping the Alibaba-owned cross-border market to ship Chinese goods to consumers around the world. However, it is now ramping up domestic services in some countries in the hope of turning local retailers into its customers. Earlier this year, the logistics giant started offering express delivery services in Brazil, which is now spread over 1,000 cities.

The new facility in Brazil is expected to further strengthen Cainiao’s presence in the country. The plan is to open nine more distribution centers in seven states and set up 1,000 “smart lockers” in 10 cities over the next three years.

Smart lockers, which allow customers to receive their e-commerce packages, have become popular in China. It saves couriers from running up and down buildings to deliver to people’s homes and helps reduce human contact during COVID-19. In Brazil, Cainiao aims to use the infrastructure for in-city and cross-border logistics and food delivery in the future. One of Cainiao’s smart locker customers is Piticas, a retail brand that focuses on eccentric and pop culture products.

“Our consumers can shop online and receive their parcels in a few days. In the future, we look forward to working with Cainiao to use their smart lockers, giving customers more options in picking, as well as importing from China to Brazil, more advanced efficiency of our supply chain,” said Vinicius Rossetti, CEO of Piticas, in a statement.

Cainiao also wants to help Brazilian traders export commodities such as coffee, nuts and propolis to China, reversing the traditional trade route. The company currently operates eight weekly charter flights between China and Brazil and plans to add more air and sea routes between the countries.

In July, Cainiao opened its sorting center in Israel, bringing the number of overseas sorting centers in use to ten at the time. As of June, Cainiao has more than 7,700 active smart lockers in Europe. The logistics unit accounted for about 5.6% of Alibaba’s revenue in three months ending in june.


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