China ecommerce trends: Alibaba tests drone deliveries

06/02/2015

Alibaba is testing delivering online orders via drones for its Taobao service with a one-off, three day campaign in China.

Alibaba is limiting the trial to just 450 packets of ginger tea, which will be delivered to specific parts of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

These are three of China’s biggest cities — within one hour of order on a first-come-first-service basis.

Alibaba partnered with logistics firm YTO Express on the project.

The company's blog adds that it believes the technology has the potential to speed up deliveries.

Amazon, Google and parcel service UPS are among other companies carrying out more private trials of such aircraft.

Alibaba is using its drones to deliver orders for a specific type of ginger tea, helping limit the maximum weight of the packages to 340g (12oz).

The Tech in Asia blog, which was one of the first to report the development, said the experiment was being undertaken by Alibaba's Taobao division - an eBay-like marketplace that connects third-party sellers and buyers - and would involve 450 shoppers.

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