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© Alexey Novikov |

Guaranteed compensation and good customer service are in very rare supply these days, especially in sea freight.

However, Cainiao, Alibaba’s logistics arm, has pledged cheaper, more reliable shipping services to its customers – and promised to compensate them for delays.

Cainiao today launched a shipment booking service, for air and sea, covering 200 ports in 50 countries and said the service encompassed container bookings and end-to-end logistics management.

It claimed its cross-border port-to-port shipping fee would be 30-40% lower than the average market rate, although it was unable to tell The Loadstar before publication how this would be achieved.

Container bookings will be confirmed within two working days after an order by an Alibaba merchant, which, claimed Cainiao, was far better than the industry average of a week to a month.

If the booking confirmation is delayed, merchants will receive compensation of up to Rmb100 ($15) per order. If cargo misses its departure time owing to Cainiao or its partners, merchants will receive compensation of Rmb1,000 ($150) per container for sea freight, or 20% of the international shipping fee, whichever is higher, or 50% of a near-sea freight shipping fee. Air freight customers will receive 10% of the shipping fee.

“In the face of the current global container shortage and surging shipping prices, Cainiao is committed to leveraging its technology and logistics ecosystem to provide a one-stop port-to-port shipping solution for exporters and importers,” said James Zhao, general manager of Cainiao Global Supply Chain

“By working closely with airlines and cargo companies, we aim to safeguard the entire cross-border line haul network and instill greater stability into sea and air freight shipping.”

Cainiao, which means ‘rookie’ or ‘beginner’, sees itself as a “newcomer to the logistics scene, on a constant quest to improve our service”.

The global container shortage, driven by delays, has seen freight rates soar, impacting export and import businesses. Average container turnaround times have increased to 100 days, up from 60, according to the China Container Industry Association, with European and US ports struggling to handle inbound goods and delaying outbound container movements.

Last month, Cainaio launched an open tender for $76.4m-worth of logistics services in all key markets, divided into B2C and B2B services, as it looked to expand its network of 3PL partners. There has been no news yet on the outcome of the tender, which closed on 15 December.

The network also added a reverse logistics channel last month for Hong Kong customers, with 85% of goods on Alibaba platforms eligible for returns within seven days. There are plans to launch a similar service in other key markets such as Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Macau and Russia.

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