By Li Xinping, People's Daily
China has maintained the world's largest handler of express delivery parcels for nine consecutive years, collecting and delivering a total of 110.58 billion parcels last year, up 2.1 percent from 2021.
In other words, on average, nearly 80 parcels were collected from and shipped to each Chinese in 2022.
In 2022, the express delivery sector's revenue increased 2.3 percent from a year ago to reach 1.06 trillion yuan ($156.26 billion), with a capability to manage as many as 700 million parcels on a daily basis.
The sector reported outstanding performance in the rural market. As of the end of 2022, a total of 430,000 express service stations had been set up across the country, including 990 county-level delivery centers and 278,000 village-level courier stations.
Last year, the courier industry vigorously promoted integrated development of passenger, cargo, and mail transportation. Nearly 20,000 delivery vehicles were put into use in the rural market, and 1,888 routes opened to traffic to support passenger and mail transportation.
As of the end of 2022, 95 percent of all administrative villages across the country had been connected to express delivery services.
Xiangshi is a township located nearly 20 kilometers away from downtown Neijiang city, southwest China's Sichuan province. It administers three communities and 11 administrative villages.
As a mountainous and sparsely populated township, Xiangshi was once express delivery-isolated. Besides, the emerging online car-hailing services brought fierce competition to the township's traditional passenger transportation business.
To connect the township to courier services and tackle the challenges faced by the traditional passenger transportation business, local authorities came up with an idea of having the transportation and postal sectors share their personnel and equipment with each other.
"My van is multipurpose now. It carries both parcels and passengers. I can send 6,300 pieces of express delivery parcels every month with the van," said Li Jun, a bus driver in Xiangshi township.
In 2022, around 100 million parcels were shipped to and from rural areas across China on a daily basis. Such remarkable performance couldn't have been achieved without using intelligent systems and upgrading automation devices, which improved sorting efficiency.
At a rural express delivery service center owned by Cainiao Network, the logistics arm of China's Alibaba Group, in Yuncheng county, Heze, east China's Shandong province, there is an automatic sorting system that comes with 242 exits. It is able to sort tens of thousands of parcels shipped by different courier companies based on their shipping addresses.
According to Zhang Tongchun, who's in charge of the service center, it takes only four hours for the automatic sorting system to sort 50,000 pieces of express delivery parcels, which is 1.5 times faster than before.
In addition, Cainiao Network has equipped its village-level stations with intelligent devices to further improve efficiency.
Zheng Chen, who heads a Cainiao service station in Chenlukou village in Yuncheng county, told People's Daily that he would paste a smart light bar to each parcel that enters the station, which will beep and be lighted up when the QR code on the parcel is scanned. It only takes six to seven seconds for customers to find their parcels, Zheng said.
Stable express delivery service stations are the most important guarantee for the sale of farm products on e-commerce platforms.
Yongji, Yuncheng of Shanxi province, is one of the largest grape producers in north China. However, troubled by high logistics cost, many village-level express delivery service stations in the city had left.
To tackle the problem, postal authorities of Yuncheng decided last year to optimize the operational structure of the local courier business by handing over all village-level deliveries to one courier company, aiming to lower the cost of express delivery service stations and help stabilize the courier business in the city.
According to Wang Lei, head of the Yongji branch of ZTO Express that won the bid to run village-level courier business, courier stations have been set up in 195 administrative villages of Yongji only seven months after the decision was implemented.
Last year, the number of express parcels collected by courier stations of ZTO Express in Yongji surged by 40 percent. More and more local specialties in the city have been sold to the rest of the country, and their prices have also been lifted.
As of the end of 2022, 117 "gold medal" courier projects had been implemented to better assist the development of modern agriculture.