Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Feb 6, 2015

Drones take off in Taobao air freight test

BEIJING / SHANGHAI / GUANGZHOU - Alibaba Group's shopping website Taobao partnered with Chinese logistics company YTO Express in a one-off trial of drone technology to deliver ginger tea packets to 450 customers.

Over a three-day period ending today, quadcopters have been ferrying boxed sets of ginger tea under the Shou Quan Zhai (寿全斋) brand above city traffic to 450 Taobao shoppers who purchased the tea for RMB 49 each.

The remote-controlled drones do not fly right to consumers' doors, but land outside residential buildings, where the packages are collected by human couriers for final delivery.

The stunt seems to be just that. By conducting the trial, Taobao is not hinting that drone-delivery service is ready for commercialisation in China, according to Alibaba. As Bloomberg points out, aviation authorities in China and the US are pondering regulations to govern such activities under concerns for safety, while Forbes sees it as more of a publicity stunt.

In Singapore, Coca-Cola dropped cans from the sky to migrant workers using custom-made drones and there are similarities to Amazon Prime Air, but industry observers still have doubts about the real marketing potential and feasibility of drones


Alibaba characterized the three-day trial as a "one-off campaign."  - See more at:

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