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And this is Story in the Story.
China is home to 20,000 active courier businesses. While many of the businesses are vulnerable and survive in a fragmented market, China still remains the global industry innovator.
By 2020, analysts expect China to emerge as the world's largest express delivery market with a business revenue of 800 billion yuan. Powerhouses able to generate over 100 billion yuan annually grow stronger, and the country could see the emergence of at least two leading world brands.
Courier delivery, buoyed by prospering online shopping in rural areas and cross-border e-commerce, is poised to become the next sector worth over a trillion yuan.
Although skyrocketing growth is all but guaranteed, issues such as a sense of security and reducing high turnover rates need to be addressed to ensure healthy development.
"Employers must improve pay and benefits,” said Ma Junsheng, head of China’s State Post Bureau (SPB).
Today’s Story in the Story looks at how China has reshaped the modern courier industry and continues to push the thriving sector into new territory, while some companies are relying on their creative abilities to stay ahead of the competition.
Clown Express Service(Photo: China Daily)
When Pei Yanlong arrived white-face and red-nosed at a hotel banquet room dressed up as a clown, he frightened a grandmother who was celebrating her 70th birthday. After Pei amused her grandchildren with his tricks and the room erupted into laughter, the elderly woman had a change of heart.
Pei is a delivery clown, a courier who dresses up as a clown to deliver packages and entertain their recipients.
Pei's job responsibilities can include dramatic tasks like apologizing to someone or proposing to a client’s girlfriend.
Delivery clowns are typically amateurs who have never received formal clown training. However, they can make others laugh while wearing baggy pants and oversized shoes. "My job is quite simple actually. I want to make people happy and seeing people happy because of what I have done gives me a sense of achievement," said Pei.
Baibian Clown in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province claims to be the first clown-courier operation in China. Established in 2007, the company has 20 franchises nationwide, and all of them are successful, said Liu Tao, the company's general manager.
"People have started to become familiar with our presence on the streets, but we aim to make people recognize and understand what we are doing," he said.
Zhang Yingning, a 23-year-old entrepreneur, co-founded a similar courier business in Shanghai.
"From September to October last year, we received more than 300 orders," the Shaanxi native said.
Zhang's company typically employs part-timers from local universities as the majority of his employees and clients are from the 80s and 90s generations.
Zhang charges $12 an hour for one delivery clown.
Although the local clowning industry is unregulated, more competitors have emerged, according to Liu Man, a project manager with a party planning company.
Liu said their customer demographic has changed over the years, expanding from the super-rich and expat community to the country’s emerging middle-class.
Liu's company charges 800 yuan for one clown to provide entertainment for 45 minutes.
"I am doing what I enjoy doing, and it doesn't make me lose face," Zhang said.
Clown offering apologizing service for customers.(Photo: Sina)
One time, Pei helped a man win his girlfriend back.
Unlike most of his clients who order the service online or over the phone, the man came to their office and explained that his girlfriend had left him because she thought he was not giving her enough attention.
Pei knocked on the woman's door and told her that she had won a lottery prize.
When she turned from surprised to cheerful, Pei revealed who sent him.
"Her face changed immediately upon hearing her boyfriend's name. You could tell her boyfriend must have hurt her deeply," Pei said.
"But after I explained what an effort her boyfriend had made to apologize for his negligence and win her back, she started crying."
In the end, the woman decided to give her boyfriend a second chance.
(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Lance Crayon, Brian Lowe, and Da Hang. Music by: bensound.com. Text from China Daily and China Plus.)