Best Of 2011: Melting Polar Ice
It's the holidays, and we've got a special gift for you this year. Each day this week, Supply Chain Digital will select one top daily story from 2011 to feature here in our Best Of: 2011 section. Enjoy!
Whether you believe in global warming or not, ice levels in the Arctic Sea reached the second-lowest point in recorded history, according to data released by NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado.
While that’s potentially bad news for our environment, it’s great news for shippers in the Northern Hemisphere. This year’s record low opened up shipping passages through the Northwest Passage and Northern Sea for brief periods last month.
Danish shipping company Nordic Bulk Carriers took full advantage of the new routes, and claimed to save one third of its usual shipping costs by taking shorter shipping routes to China through the Arctic.
TIME LAPSE OF MELTING ARCTIC ICE
Less ice also meant for quicker trade for Nordic Bulk Carriers, who made the journey to China in nearly half the time.
“We saved 1,000 tons of bunker fuel – nearly 3,000 tons of CO2 – on one journey between Murmansk [Russia] and north China,” Nordic Bulk Carriers Director Christian Bonfils told the Guardian.
“The window for sailing the route is four months now, but the Russians say it is seven. When we can save 22 days on transportation, it is very good business for us."
Good business for shippers is probably bad news for the environment. Ice levels in the Arctic barely avoided their lowest recorded point ever, which was set in 2007. Scientists point out that 2007 witnessed unusual weather that contributed to ice melt; those same conditions were not present this year.
“Atmospheric and oceanic conditions were not as conducive to ice loss this year, but the melt still neared 2007 levels,” Matt Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center said.
Since 1979, September’s arctic sea ice extent has declined by 12 percent each decade, reports Science Daily.
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.