Originally posted on MultichannelMerchant.com.

Let’s get serious about shopping. Specifically shopping on two
significant days on the ecommerce calendar: Amazon’s Prime Day
and Alibaba’s Singles Day (meaning ‘Double Eleven’ in
Mandarin).

Prime Day, an annual sales event for Amazon Prime members is in
its third year running, resulted in the tripling of daily sales
to the tune of $1 billion this year. Alibaba 11.11
Global Shopping Festival, known as Singles Day, leveraged the
mass Chinese market and pulled in a gargantuan $17.8 billion last year, with this
year’s event on November 11 fast approaching and expected to
break records yet again.

One thing that both highly anticipated events have in common is
their ability to orchestrate the shipping of over a billion
digital purchases in a short, saturated amount of time. Let’s
look at a few ways Amazon and Alibaba approach shipping – and
how retailers of any size can infuse those strategies into
their own operations.

Embrace Speed as the Name of the Game

Despite the increased workload, Amazon is committed to ensuring
it stays on its path of customer-centricity by
promising next-day deliveries and two-hour
deliveries
 for Prime Day purchases. This is further
boosted with the announcement on Prime Air – its own fleet of planes
that will ensure last-minute purchases can still be delivered
in two days.

The Mandarin term ‘Ji Su Da,’ or ‘fast delivery,’ is a
familiar term for China’s supply chain and logistics industry.
It is synonymous with Singles Day. Using this approach,
Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao delivered 650
million Singles Day packages
, and were one of the 2.68
million couriers who delivered an estimated 1 billion packages to 115 million
customers
. That’s a 43:1 deliveries-to-courier ratio for
the day.

As consumer demand for fast shipping surges – 49% of consumers are willing to pay extra for same-day
delivery, 
while 19% say they would shop online more if
retailers offered hyperlocal shipping – it’s no surprise that
these events are on a year-on-year upward trajectory. Speed
matters.

Offer Breadth and Depth

Amazon is well known for its ability to deliver
on speed, and it also excels at providing its customers with
choice. Aside from offering free same-day delivery and weekend
delivery, it allows customers to pick up their packages from
over 2000 self-service locker kiosks across the U.S. Expanding
the ways that customers can get their Prime Day purchases is
beneficial not only to customers who crave flexibility, but
also to Amazon as it removes a key cart abandonment culprit –
shipping friction.

While Singles Day customers have openly grumbled about a lack of
delivery consistency, Alibaba has put into motion
nationwide logistics and shipping
network
 that will improve deliverability across urban
and rural areas.

Up to 56% of last-minute shoppers will abandon cart
and buy from a competitor when their preferred shipping service
is unavailable, while up to 83% of shoppers will increase their
basket size to qualify for hyperlocal shipping and 59% will
shop more for free shipping. To boost conversion, consider
introducing premium options such as same day or weekend
shipping alongside alternative free options such as
click-and-collect during the year-end holidays.

Treat Technology as a Shipping Partner

Amazon’s growing transportation fleet and fulfillment centers
boost its ability to dispatch orders in a short time – a
process that wouldn’t be successful without its technological
prowess. Reports about Amazon creating an Uber-like mobile technology to book truck
freight
 further highlights an online-to-offline
approach to commerce that it shares with Alibaba.

Similarly, Alibaba is leveraging the power of technology to
remove supply chain and shipping-related friction. Early this
year, it announced a significant Maersk partnership for its OneTouch
import and export service to help suppliers with shipments.

With both Amazon and Alibaba commonly touted as data-driven
technology companies, their ability to harness data to
determine the quickest and most cost-effective shipping rate
is revolutionary for consumer and
merchants alike. Already, quick-footed traditional ecommerce
platforms are incorporating a seamless data-centric shipping
process into workflows, such as what Magento did with
its new solution to automate shipping and fulfillment for
merchants of all sizes, industries and geographies.

With the year-end holidays round the corner, retailers need to
find sustainable ways to manage the surge of online orders
without losing sight of the customer experience or the bottom
line. By taking a leaf out of how Amazon and Alibaba tackled
shipping during their annual sales events, and applying speed,
choice, and technology to your shipping and fulfillment
strategy and workflow, any retailer large or small will be able
to achieve big gains at home or abroad. The question now is no
longer about how many losses shipping will incur, but how far
it will help your business to grow – so why not explore its
possibilities now?

Matthew Mullen, Board Director at Temando, SVP and MD of
North America at Neopost Shipping