China’s courier industry increases technological input

China’s express delivery companies are increasing their input into technologies, in a bid to speed up the transition from a labor-intensive industry to an intelligent one.

According to China’s State Post Bureau, 13.67 billion parcels have been delivered in the first 4 months of 2018, up 29.3 percent from last year.

Courier services were considered a labor-intensive industry in the past. However, with an increasing labor price, it’s natural that the industry wishes to apply new technologies to reduce costs.

Major listed courier firms handle more than 10 million parcels per day. ZTO Express, China’s largest express delivery company by market share, handles as many as 26 million items every day.

“The industry is expanding at a double-digit speed annually, which puts higher requirements on technology,” said Zhu Jingxi, vice president of the ZTO Express.

Automation and intelligentization are two major directions for courier companies. In the first quarter of this year, 94 percent of ZTO’s express sheets were made electronically available, and the company handled 36 percent more parcels with an increase of only 7 percent to its human workforce.

In addition, ZTO Express also released a research report on block chain technology, hoping to apply it to the logistics sector.

SF Express, which is the largest courier company by market cap, also sees technology as its core competitiveness. Its financial report said that its number of research personnel amounted to 2,800 in 2017, and the company invested 108 percent more on research than in the previous year.

The company has also made a blue print to employ drones, smart devices and Internet of vehicles to its delivery services. It was granted the first license for drones to drop off products this March.

“We can still see the couriers riding electronic bikes, but it doesn’t suggest