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Streamlining: Optimization and Chinese Logistics

One of my most notable memories from my year of living in China is how well optimized some services are for the population. There are obviously perks to having one entity organizing infrastructure alongside commercial industries. From what I've seen, the mailing system is like improved Amazon (before covid, now they just leave everything at the door, conveniently). They also have markets for specific kinds of technologies, like the world-famous ones around Shenzhen. On top of that, the transport in the big cities is cheaper and better organized than I've seen in any of the big cities I've visited.


For those who know, TaoBao is pretty lit. It's one of the few name-worthy Amazon-like services in China, but unlike the latter, it allows you to purchase almost anything. Just don't go buying tech at suspiciously low prices. Most sellers will use one of the multiple China-wide mailing companies which can deliver about anywhere in big cities' vicinities. When the packages arrive, they leave them at these stations around neighborhoods. These locations have lockers in which they place the items. They have varying sizes and unlock with your phone through a code which is texted to you. When they're out of space, they store them at a nearby neighborhood store. You're then free to pick it up within the next few days. It's always nearby and safely keeps your package. This system is incredibly efficient as it does not require anyone to wonder what is going on. Updates are quick and there is no wondering if you're going to miss your package; it's there, waiting for you. Investing in such infrastructure is something I'm not sure will come soon for Canada. We'll have to wait and see.


I wasn't able to make it down to Shenzhen from Zhengzhou, which I really would have liked to do, but I was trying to save some money. Instead, with my good friend Iverson, I visited a tech market as far from my place as I had been in ZZ. It was worth the trip though, I geeked out so hard. An entire 90'000 square meters and 4 floors dedicated to everything from smartphones and accessories to consoles and laptops, with odd tech and definitely PC parts. I was there to find parts for my PC build, I was in the process of building my Mystery Box case, the same Linus took a picture of during the BYOC of LTX 2019. I was upgrading from an I5 4670k to the new Ryzen 7 2700X and needed to pair it with new motherboard, RAM, and RGB cooling fans. PC parts were on level 3, so I escalated my way up and bargained a price better than I could have had at Canadian MSRP. They probably still made a healthy profit but Canadian tech prices are terrible. Iverson needed some games so we headed to the game shops. I had already looked around through a few PC shops so after that, we left. They even have custom-building services for cellphones and PCs. A salesperson tried to build me a worse PC than I had in mind. Those markets are energetic and definitely a little chaotic, but the passion of technology is palpable.


Getting to the market was actually quite easy. With Iverson, we got a cab through DiDi, the Uber of China, for much cheaper than a similar ride would've been here in Montreal. Highways and streets are fairly well organized, avoiding traffic despite a gigantic population. I've been told multiple times the population of ZZ alone was near 100 million. I'm not entirely sure of that number but it was definitely a huge city. The bus fare is a measly 1 Yuan, the equivalent of 20 Canadian cents. Amazing, right? You can make it across 20 KM of city with 20 cents! There is also a metro which I never had the opportunity to ride because the part leading near my neighborhood was not build yet.


So despite all the great infrastructure set in place for the population, just like everywhere else there are still some setbacks preventing a delightful harmonization of some services. The mailing system, however has in my opinion reached peak maturity for operable available technology. This does make me wonder about whether drones are truly the right vision for the future of delivery. I'm sure drones have their future, but at this point, I can't be sure it's the right way for package delivery that is not time-sensitive; plus the many figurines your ordered wouldn't fit on only one of those.

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