Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao travels far from home to expand its business. The company recently launched its first parcel distribution center in Brazil, which complements its regional network of sorting centers in Mexico and Chile, it said Monday.
Alibaba’s e-commerce business in China has suffered from a combination of a cooling economy and aggressive rivals like Pinduoduo. For the first time, the company has did not disclose sales figures for the annual ‘Singles Day’ shopping festival, which fell on November 11 and used to be accompanied by a Super Bowl-esque gala featuring pop idols and Jack Ma himself.
Cainiao tracks AliExpress abroad, helping the Alibaba-owned cross-border marketplace deliver Chinese goods to consumers around the world. But in some countries, it is now expanding domestic services, hoping to turn local retailers into customers. Earlier this year, the logistics giant began offering express courier services in Brazil, which now spans more than 1,000 cities.
The new facility in Brazil will further enhance Cainiao’s presence in the country. The plan is to open nine more distribution centers in seven states over the next three years and set up 1,000 “smart lockers” in ten cities.
Smart lockers, which allow customers to collect their e-commerce parcels, have become a common sight in China. It prevents couriers from running up and down buildings to deliver to people’s homes and helps reduce human contact during COVID-19 times. In Brazil, Cainiao plans to use the infrastructure in the future for intra-city and cross-border logistics services and for food delivery. One of Cainiao’s smart locker clients is Piticas, a retail franchise focused on geek and pop culture products.
“Our consumers can shop online and receive their package within a few days. In the future, we look forward to partnering with Cainiao to leverage its smart lockers, giving our customers more options for collection, as well as importing from China to Brazil, further increasing the efficiency of our supply chain,” said Vinicius. Rossetti., CEO of Piticas, in a statement.
Cainiao also wants to help Brazilian traders export goods like coffee, nuts and propolis to China, reversing the traditional trade route. The company currently operates eight weekly charter flights between China and Brazil and plans to add more air and sea routes between the countries.
In July, Cainiao open its sorting center in Israel, bringing the number of its overseas sorting centers in operation at that time to ten. In June, Cainiao had more than 7,700 smart lockers in use in Europe. The logistics unit accounted for about 5.6% of Alibaba’s revenue in the three months ending in June.