HANGZHOU, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- Xu Ze in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, placed an order for a pair of sneakers Sunday night, and minutes after she headed out to work early Monday morning, the package had arrived at her door.
"I was still browsing to see if there was anything else I needed to buy, and some of my packages had already been delivered," she said.
Singles' Day or Double 11, an annual shopping spree, kicked off from Sunday midnight. Sales on Alibaba's e-commerce platform TMall hit 10 billion yuan (about 1.43 billion U.S. dollars) after one minute and 36 seconds into Monday.
This year's total sales are expected to beat last year's record, which stands at 213.5 billion yuan.
The shopping festival enters its 11th year in 2019, with courier giants rolling up their sleeves to provide faster logistics service for buyers.
From midnight to 8 a.m. Monday morning, Tmall said it sent 100 million packages, setting a new record. Leading courier firms such as SF Express and YTO Express pledged more efficiency in 26 cities in the Yangtze River Delta area in east China.
China's express delivery companies have honed their efficiency through years of practice, Alibaba's logistics arm Cainiao Network said. Increasing automation and aviation enable the firms to cope with the deluge of packages and reduce backlogs.
"We are increasingly reliant on robots," said Xiang Feng, vice president of YTO Express.
"In the age of intelligence plus, whoever has the highest degree of technological innovation will dominate the courier industry," he said.
China's State Post Bureau said a total of 2.8 billion packages are expected to be handled from Nov. 11 to 18, with a daily peak volume of 520 million packages.
Before the shopping festival, cross-border freight trains and cargo flights had already stocked up warehouses in China. For example, businesses in Chile booked several direct charter flights to carry cherries and salmon to China.
The involvement of more businesses has made shopping increasingly convenient and pleasant. During the first Singles' Day shopping festival in 2009, only 27 brands participated. This year, more than 220,000 brands from over 200 countries and regions are expected to participate.
In big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, more than 600 types of fresh agricultural products from 1,000 places of origin can arrive at buyers' dining tables on the day of purchase.
Faster and greener, express delivery has also become more sustainable.
This year, 35,000 service stations and 40,000 others operated by Alibaba's logistics arm Cainiao Network have established spaces dedicated to recycling packing boxes and materials and offering them to senders free of charge.
Courier companies have also used smaller sheets of paper on their packages. STO Express said by using smaller printed paper, it is expected to reduce its paper use by 1.27 million square meters, enough to cover 3,000 standard basketball courts.