China's courier services are getting ready for the upcoming Singles' Day, an annual e-commerce shopping spree in the country. Alibaba's Cainiao logistics network forecasts that the industry will handle 1.05 billion packages for Singles' Day this year, up 35 percent year on year. Courier services have been upgrading their delivery networks for covering long-distances and huge volumes. And delivery people have become a hot commodity themselves.
Nearly all major delivery firms have put out recruitment notices ahead of the shopping spree. Over 2.7 million workers are expected to be needed to accommodate this year's shopping spree, and that's a 50-percent increase year on year.
November is the month for e-commerce firms, as online shopping companies launch break-neck sales campaigns on November 11th. China's army of online shoppers is prepared to max out its credit cards on good deals.
It's the Singles Day shopping spree. I've got my laptop set up, I'm totally ready. But for a long time this is how you shop: browsing e-commerce websites on your computer. But industry leader Alibaba said that is about to change.
Meet the shopping experience of the future. Alibaba is selling virtual reality headsets on its website. Starting November 1st, users who own the devises can log onto Alibaba's Taobao.com, and have a virtual shopping experience where they can visit overseas shops and try on items.
"We have teamed up with US department stores like Macy's, Costco and Target, and also several stores in Japan and Australia. There are eight in total. Users can sit at home and feel like they are actually shopping in these stores," Zhuang Zhuoran, manager of GM Lab, Alibaba Group, said.
The company says that about 1 million people are experiencing the new way of shopping. Alibaba officials are betting that this is the direction that e-commerce is heading.
"The online experience started from text to pictures. Now getting popular are videos and live broadcasts. We believe the way people interact with content online should evolve, for example, from two dimensions to three dimensions, which is Virtual Reality," Zhuang said.
Another major e-commerce company -- JD.com -- is betting on something else, and that is unmanned warehouses where all the picking, moving and storing is done by smart machines.
Li said that the benefits of extra efficiency could be substantial.
That's going to save logistics costs for both JD.com and its business partners, which Mrs. Li said will translate into lower prices and faster deliveries for online shoppers. These new innovations are still in the initial stages. But analysts say they will very likely redefine e-commerce wars in the future.