Sales jump as e-commerce platform offers free shipping service to Xinjiang


There is good news for online shoppers in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region as the benefit of free shipping is now available for them.

Cui Keke, a resident of Urumqi, the regional capital, was delighted when she stumbled upon the news of free shipping being offered by e-commerce platform Taobao last week. She immediately opened the app to order a mobile-phone case, a thermos cup and a few bags of coffee beans. She is now waiting eagerly for her orders to be delivered.

"I was thrilled. Our beautiful Xinjiang is no longer an 'excluded remote area'," said Cui, who shared her Taobao orders on the social media platform Xiaohongshu.

On March 16, Taobao announced the free shipping channel to Xin­jiang on its home page, where products sold will be shipped free of transportation cost to customers in the region.

More online stores are expected to join the channel, making shopping online cheaper and easier for consumers in Xinjiang, according to Taobao.

The free shipping service announcement was followed by a surge in orders on Taobao and Tmall, both online marketplaces of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, from Xinjiang.

Zhang Qingguo, who sells hairpieces on Taobao, said he experienced a boom in sales for the first time this spring thanks to the free shipping policy.

"My sales have doubled in three days following Taobao's announcement," said Zhang.

In addition, sales of clothes, toys and other products have also increased on the e-commerce platform, with orders for nearly 20 types of products from the region doubling, according to Taobao.

Due to the sparse population in the region and insufficient logistics infrastructure, high shipping costs have long troubled Xinjiang consumers.

Since the announcement, the proportion of users complaining about "lack of free shipping" has fallen by 34.2 percentage points, and online shoppers are more satisfied with their shopping experiences, according to the Xinjiang Postal Administration.

Furthermore, growth of express delivery in Xinjiang has been the fastest in all of China.

In 2023, the region witnessed online retail sales of 64.1 billion yuan ($8.9 billion), up 23.7 percent year-on-year. In the same year, express delivery volume in the region reached 305 million pieces, representing a year-on-year increase of 88.1 percent.

Express delivery companies have also been making efforts. Li Shouguo, head of the public affairs department of Shunfeng Express' Xinjiang outlet, said the company has more than 300 branches in the region. "SF Express can deliver orders from Urumqi to 167 cities within 48 hours."

Chen Libo, director of the industry management department at the postal administration in Karamay, a city in northern Xinjiang, said that SF Express, Yunda, YTO Express, JD Logistics and some other carriers have all launched free shipping services to the region.

"With Xinjiang joining the free shipping circle and the promotion of the transit and distribution model, Karamay's express delivery volume and revenue have both increased," he said.

Xinjiang has been striving to improve shipping services. In June, the region announced plans to establish consumer goods transit centers in Xi'an, Shaanxi province and Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, introducing a new model of national transit to Xinjiang.

So far, Xinjiang has formed a logistics node city layout with Urumqi as the core, Kashi, Karamay and other cities as first- and second-level nodes, and key towns with certain transportation infrastructure and industrial advantages as third-level nodes.

Xinjiang has established 57 county-level e-commerce public service centers and logistics distribution centers, with over 4,000 village-level sites.

The Xinjiang Postal Administration said that a more improved and smooth logistics network not only brings greater opportunities for the coordinated development of the region's logistics and e-commerce industries, but also empowers rural vitalization and increases people's incomes.

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