After a standoff over access to customer data in early June, SF Express and Cainiao reached an official reconciliation yesterday, following a month-long intervention by China’s State Post Bureau to encourage “data sharing and information security” between China’s online retailers and express couriers.
Cainiao, controlled by Alibaba, organizes the logistics of parcels bought through Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall, where SF Express is among the dozens of couriers that deliver those parcels. When SF Express abruptly stopped providing data required by Cainiao for security verification on parcels deposited into its Hivebox (丰巢 fengchao) delivery lockers, Cainiao responded by removing SF Express from its courier options for Alibaba purchases. Both parties cited “customer data security” as the reasons for their actions.
Underneath this spat is the ongoing data war between Alibaba and Tencent, in this case trying to grab user data generated from China’s 6.2 trillion yuan (US$910 billion) courier market. TechNode and others believe that the logistics kerfuffle started because SF Express refused to migrate its cloud services from Tencent to Alibaba. Shortly after the conflict broke out on June 1, Tencent announced a partnership with SF Express and potential support for its cloud service. Tencent also owns a 15% stake in e-commerce giant JD.com, which has its own in-house courier service and is a major competitor to Alibaba’s Tmall.
The State Post Bureau has been the mediator in the conflict since the beginning and was conducive to helping the two giants reach an agreement.