Yang Tao, a courier at the delivery office at the foot of Mount Qomolangma, hands a parcel to a customer on Nov.4. (Photo provided to CHINA DAILY)
Despite the unbearable winter chill at the foot of Mount Qomolangma, also known as Mount Everest in the West, villagers can't wait to open parcels that have just arrived at a delivery office. Curiosity, excitement and laughter filled the thin air at the world's highest delivery office in the town of Tashi Dzom in Dingri county, Tibet autonomous region.
"Ordering online is getting cheaper and more convenient," said local resident Phurbu, whose friend taught him how to order a winter jacket and a pair of shoes, as it was his first time to shop online and pick up a parcel.
The delivery office already got busy long before Singles Day, the annual shopping festival that fell on Wednesday.
"Last year, the number of parcels delivered as a result of Singles Day was around 100. But this year I have already got more than 200 parcels in the warm-up period of the shopping spree, which started on Nov 1," said Yang Tao, manager and the only courier of the delivery office. He expected the number to grow rapidly after the shopping gala on Wednesday.
"I think I will become busier in the coming weeks, and I'd better be fully prepared," Yang said.
In 2016, Alibaba's logistics arm, Cainiao Network, set up the world's highest delivery office in Tashi Dzom, a small town at an altitude of 4,119 meters, to expand business and services to remote areas in the region.
The town is about 50 kilometers from the foot of Qomolangma and 300 km from Shigatse, the region's second-largest city.
Every Tuesday, Yang goes to the county seat, 50 km away, to fetch the parcels and then locals come to his office to pick up their purchases, saving time and bringing convenience to the 7,400 residents of the town.
Before the opening of the office, local residents had to spend around four hours to collect parcels from the county seat.
Back in 2016, the office handled only 17 parcels in the first month after its opening. Now the number has grown steadily to an average of 200 per month, thanks to the fast-growing logistics industry in recent years.
"At the beginning, the orders were mainly clothes. Now it could be something like digital items, vehicle parts, snacks, cosmetics, sports gear or heating appliances," Yang said.
Tsering Dekyi, a 25-year-old primary school teacher in the town, said she has been a big fan of online shopping since university."It is out of my expectations that we can have a delivery service here. I am happy that I can go shopping online as before," she said.
"I prefer to shop online as there are not many shops around," she added.
Ding Kun, an employee of Cainiao Network, said the high standard of logistics in China's eastern regions does not represent the entire situation of the industry and it's important to give residents in every corner of the country the opportunity to benefit from delivery services.
"Setting up a delivery service in such a remote area conforms to our mission of allowing more remote western areas to benefit from the industry," he said. "People cannot easily access online shopping when there is no delivery office. Now the service can help people in remote areas explore a different world."
Nationwide, the country is striving to boost the domestic market as part of the "dual-circulation" development pattern. In this year's shopping festival, Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces ranked as the top three in terms of merchandise volume.