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Alibaba and Cainiao open China’s ‘largest’ robot-operated warehouse

Supply chain robotics company Cainiao has installed 700 robots at China’s largest robot-run warehouse to process orders on Singles Day, according to a report on CNBC

The warehouse, located in Wuxi, near Shanghai, is owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is also majority-owner of Cainiao, and Singles Day is said to generate more than $25 billion in sales.

CNBC reports that last year, on Singles Day – November 11, Cainiao processed over 800 million packages, and this year, Alibaba expects that figure to surpass 1 billion. 

Alibaba increased its stake in Cainiao to 51 percent last year, through an additional investment of $807 million.

As a group, Alibaba said at the time that it plans to invest more than $15 billion into its logistics network and automation technologies over the next five years.

The company’s aim is to be able to deliver within 24 hours in China, and 72 hours anywhere in the world.

Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group, says: “Our goal with this investment is to provide comprehensive, first-class experience for consumers globally.

“Our commitment to Cainiao and additional investment in logistics demonstrate Alibaba’s commitment to building the most-efficient logistic network in China and around the world.

“By enhancing the logistics capabilities within the Alibaba ecosystem and extending our investment in this sector, we are further enabling our New Retail strategy to bring online and offline retail into one seamless experience for shoppers.

“We will also continue to deepen our collaboration with various logistics partners to achieve this goal.”

Earlier this year, Alibaba also invested $1.38 billion for a 10 percent stake in ZTO, one of the largest express delivery companies in the world, and which is said to be growing its business fast in China.

Zhang says: “ZTO has been an important partner to Alibaba Group and Cainiao Network in the development of the new digital economy.

“The continuing expansion of New Retail is catalyzing new opportunities and demands in logistics. This strategic investment will strengthen synergies across our mutual businesses to create new value and improved experience for merchants and consumers.”

Lin Wan, president of Cainiao Network, says: “The logistics industry in China is highly competitive with its own unique features and presents plenty of new opportunities ahead.

“This investment will enable Cainiao and ZTO to supercharge joint innovation and development to accelerate digitalization of the industry.

“We will continue to work closely with industry leaders, including ZTO, to enhance our logistics infrastructure and broaden our service offerings to meet the growing demand from New Retail.”

Meisong Lai, founder and CEO of ZTO, says: “The growth of e-commerce and new retail in China demands more efficient express delivery and expanded logistics services.

“To that effect, we are delighted to enhance our partnership with Alibaba and Cainiao through their strategic investments in ZTO.

“This partnership will enable us to expand our selection of high-quality service offerings both in China and internationally, and is fully aligned with our common interest in improving logistics efficiency and enhancing customer experience.”