Every day most of us take for granted the fact that we can order and purchase all sorts of items online, thanks to e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, JD and Pinduoduo.
The numbers who are taking advantage of this extremely convenient form of shopping are truly outstanding.
For example, according to a report on Statista.com, during China's annual Single's Day shopping festival on Nov 11, 2022, around 527 million people shopped on Taobao, while around 576.2 million people purchased items via Pinduoduo.
This is not only good news for the nation's retail sector, it's also big business for the logistics sector. Last year, this meant that China's parcel delivery sector reached the landmark of having delivered more than 110 billion parcels by mid-October, ranking number one in the world for the ninth consecutive year, according to the industry's regulator, the State Post Bureau of China.
Everything we order, literally, comes to our door, including fresh foodstuffs which are packaged in such a way that they are generally as fresh and tasty as they would be if you actually went to the store or market and put them in your shopping basket.
The sophisticated nature of China's logistics sector, and the impressive development of the supply chain in recent years got me thinking about ancient Chinese history, as there is actually a connection between that and the convenience we enjoy today, and that connection shows how the lives of ordinary people have been radically transformed.
The historical story in question is that of Yang Yuhuan, a consort of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
Such was Xuanzong's love for his consort, that he would do whatever was possible (and sometimes seemed impossible to others) to make her happy.
Yang had a great fondness for lychees, but this fruit was not readily available where the royal court resided in the city of Chang'an, the capital of three dynasties, and which is today's city of Xi'an, the capital city of Northwest China's Shaanxi province.
The fruit so beloved by Yang grew more than 700 kilometers away in today's Sichuan province in southwestern China.
To ensure that the lychees could arrive fresh for his consort to enjoy, Xuanzong established a system where a relay of perpetually sprinting horses raced the fruit across the nation, which was immortalized in the poem Passing by the Huaqing Palace by Du Mu.
In those days, only an emperor could command the logistics network required to indulge himself and members of his royal court in such a way. It was a luxury which was unimaginable to ordinary people.
Now this "luxury" is something that we can all enjoy, thanks to China's highly developed and sophisticated e-commerce and logistics sectors.