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Singles' Day sales push couriers to the limit   2011-11-23 14:20:00

Workers at YTO Express, a Shanghai-based express mail service provider, sort a sudden increase in deliveries on Nov 11. (Photo: China Daily)

Ask a Chinese online shopper this question: "Are you still waiting for the products you ordered during the Singles' Day promotion?"

The answer is likely to be a big fat "yes".

The online shopping promotion on Nov 11 has led to a massive delivery delay across the country as well as mounting complaints over fake discounts, substandard products and poor after-sales services.

They could trigger a credibility crisis for online shops that are preparing for a similar promotion for Thanksgiving, which falls on Thursday, said consumer rights experts.

"The complaints we're receiving these days have more than doubled, most of which are about delivery delays of goods ordered on Singles' Day," Yao Jianfang, director of the complaint department of China E-Commerce Research Center, told China Daily on Tuesday.

Yao's department helps protect online consumers' rights. It received about 40 complaints a day in the past week.

Shop owners on Taobao Mall, China's largest business-to-consumer platform, secured orders worth 3.36 billion yuan ($528 million) during Singles' Day, more than triple the same day last year.

As an unofficial Chinese festival, Singles' Day, which falls on Nov 11, is celebrated mostly by unattached young people. Online shop owners launch promotions during the festival to boost sales during the traditionally slow business season.

Zhu Chengjun, a 26-year-old white-collar worker in Shanghai, said he joined the early hour shopping rush that day and spent nearly 1,000 yuan on Taobao Mall.

But his orders were delivered later than usual - the earliest arrived after five days while the latest arrived on Monday, 10 days after the order was made.

Luan Rong, a manager of Amier online store, one of the leading lingerie brands on Taobao Mall, admitted that she has received more than 20 complaints a day since the Singles' Day sale, double a regular day.

Most complaints are about delivery delays and damaged goods, she said.

Taobao Mall did not reveal how many complaints it has received. But it said a survey had shown that 10 percent of products ordered on Nov 11 had not been delivered to consumers in five major Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, five days after Singles' Day. The company, however, didn't reveal any comparable figures. It usually takes only two to three days for goods ordered online to be sent to buyers in major Chinese cities.

Daniel Zhang, president of Taobao Mall, admitted that logistics has become a bottleneck.

The total number of parcels from Taobao Mall and its sister consumer-to-consumer platform reached a record high of 28.5 million on Nov 11, compared with 8 million on an average day, Zhang said.

"The Nov 11 figure exceeded the total amount of packages that all Chinese courier firms can deal with in one day," Zhang said.

Couriers said they have tried their best.

"We have been working on a 24-hour shift since midnight of Nov 11 and added 10 more workers to help with parcel collecting and counting. All the delivery people were on duty for the past week," said Fang Qingfeng, a manager at Shentong Express' Shaoxing branch, Zhejiang province.

The outlet dealt with more than 15,000 parcels a day between Nov 11 and Nov 17, nearly double the normal amount.



source : China Daily     editor:: Ashlee
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