A glance at China's logistics industry

This year marks the eleventh year of China's Singles' Day shopping bonanza, better known as "Double Eleven" for its fixed date on November 11. 

With the online shopping frenzy comes the whopping demand for logistics services. China's logistics industry is on the right track to a bright future. 

According to the State Post Bureau (SPB), during last year's peak period from November 11 to November 16, the postal and express enterprises handled 1.8 billion postal items, up 25.8 percent from the previous year with a record high.

Singles' Day and the rise of private express companies

The year 2009 is not only the first year of the "Double Eleven" shopping festival, but also a year bearing significance for the domestic private express delivery sector. Previously, the old postal law stipulated that "letters and other items of that nature are franchised by postal enterprises."

On October 1, 2009, the revised Postal Law of the People's Republic of China came into force, confirming the legal status of private express enterprises and better regulating the industry. The sector has since then been on the right track and advanced triumphantly.

From 2010 to 2014, the national online retail sales went up by 97.3 percent, 52.5 percent, 67.5 percent, 42.8 percent, and 49.7 percent year on year, and its proportion of total retail sales of social consumer goods rose from less than two percent to 10.6 percent. E-commerce parcels began to replace commercial parcels and became the main source of income for private express delivery companies.

In 2018, Chinese delivery firms handled a total of 50.71 billion parcels, a surge of 26.6 percent compared to the previous year, with total business revenue soaring 21.8 percent year on year to the tune of 603.84 billion yuan (around 89.83 billion U.S. dollars).

Decent pay for the couriers

Chinese couriers are a prerequisite and the foundation of the industry, and are therefore relatively well paid, earning an average salary of 4,859 yuan (about 725.7 U.S. dollars) a month in 2017, 27.4 percent higher than the average salary of other private company employees.

Official data shows that in October 2019, China's first-tier cities had the most demand for and supply of couriers, among which Beijing topped the list, followed closely by Chengdu, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Wuhan.

In terms of salary, Shanghai had the highest paid couriers in China in October, with monthly salaries peaking at 9,145 yuan ahead of the annual shopping spree, followed by Beijing and Hangzhou, standing at 8,849 yuan and 8,673 yuan, respectively.

VCG Photo

VCG Photo

Behind a decent pay lies the cost of hefty workloads and long working hours. According to a survey led by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China and State Post Bureau, nearly half of couriers have to work 10 to 12 hours a day, while 21.4 percent of the survey takers complained about their work time exceeding 12 hours per day.

The survey also demonstrated that 48.9 percent of Chinese couriers only have one day off every week, with 31 percent of the respondents delivering around 100 packages a day. The workload tends to be much heavier during shopping peaks like the Single's Day shopping festival and the Spring Festival.