Express delivery, an indispensable part of the daily life of many Chinese, has developed as an industry alongside the emergence and boom of online shopping. Data from the State Post Bureau show that the business volume of China's express delivery industry reached 31.28 billion parcels in 2016 while its revenue totaled nearly 400 billion yuan ($58.06 billion).
A crucial component of China's modern service sector, it is playing an active role in the transformation of the country's logistics industry and upgrading of public consumption. It also has a key role in reducing logistics costs, supporting e-commerce and expanding employment channels.
Before the appearance of express delivery, the only way for Chinese people to send mail or parcels was to go to the post office. At that time, it would take a fairly long time for the mail and parcels to reach their destination. The advent of express delivery caused a big shock to the postal service, forcing its delivery business to shrink.
However, the rapid expansion of the express delivery industry has brought about problems, such as damage to contents and delivery delays. To resolve the issues, the Chinese Government introduced a series of regulations. The government has also released a plan for the industry during 2016-20, which lays down measures for developing a green, safe and highly efficient express service system with advanced technology and high-quality services by 2020.
China's express delivery companies have started taking their business to the international market. By building a global service network, they will make it more convenient for buyers and sellers to conduct transactions beyond national borders.
In July 2015, SF Express launched its cross-border e-commerce charter flight, directly flying from Changchun in northeast China's Jilin Province to Russia. On May 9 this year, YTO Express announced it would buy 61.87 percent of the shares in On Time Logistics, a Hong Kong-based listed express company with branches in 17 countries and regions.
According to data from the China E-Commerce Research Center, China's e-commerce imports reached 1.2 trillion yuan ($174.17 billion) in 2016, growing 33.3 percent over 2015. The volume is expected to rise to 1.85 trillion yuan ($268.51 billion) this year. Currently, Russia, the European Union and the United States are the three most active markets for China's cross-border electronic business.
Today, the Belt and Road Initiative, comprising the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, is further improving commodity exchanges between China and the countries and regions along the routes, which will create more opportunities for Chinese express companies to develop their cross-border business. Cross-border e-commerce is expected to provide new impetus for China's express delivery industry.