The AliExpress e-commerce platform is constantly evolving, as new features, options and shipping methods are rolled out. One of the recent additions to the platform were Cainiao shipping methods on June 20, 2018.

Cainiao is a logistics provider launched by Alibaba Group that offers several economy and standard shipping methods on the e-commerce platform AliExpress. Cainiao shipping methods are typically cheaper, but typically entail a longer shipping time.

In this article, we’ll be exploring more about Cainiao, their shipping methods on AliExpress and how they compare to other shipping options such as AliExpress Shipping. 

What is Cainiao?

Cainiao (Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Limited), is a logistics provider that was founded by Alibaba Group in 2013, together with eight other companies and is headquartered in Hangzhou, China. 

Over the years, Cainiao has managed to expand its network across China and is now working with preferred network partners across the globe to facilitate worldwide deliveries. 

Through e-commerce platforms such as AliExpress, Cainiao prides itself in offering 24 hour deliveries within China. They also work closely with local logistics providers through their resource sharing platform. 

Cainiao’s Shipping Methods on AliExpress

Cainiao offers several shipping methods on AliExpress that range from economy to standard services. Each type of shipping method is available depending on the destination country, as well as the value and size of the goods. 

aliexpress shipping methods options

Here is a list of Cainiao’s Shipping Methods on AliExpress:

  • Cainiao Super Economy
  • Cainiao Super Economy Global
  • Cainiao Super Economy for Special Goods
  • Cainiao Standard For Special Goods
  • Cainiao Expedited Standard
  • Cainiao Heavy Parcel Line

While some of these shipping methods are rare, the most common ones you can find on AliExpress are Super Economy, Super Economy Global, Super Economy for Special Goods, Standard For Special Goods and Expedited Standard.

Shipping MethodEstimated DeliveryCostTracking
Super Economy30 – 50 daysFree to LowNo
Super Economy Global30 – 50 daysFree to LowNo
Super Economy for Special Goods30 – 50 daysLow to MediumYes
Standard For Special Goods20 – 40 daysLow to MediumYes
Expedited Standard20 – 40 daysMediumYes
Heavy Parcel Line30 – 50 daysMediumNo

Cainiao Super Economy and Super Economy Global

The Super Economy and Super Economy Global are usually the most economical methods of shipping on AliExpress. The transit times are generally 30 – 50 days and shipping is typically free of charge. On some occasions a small shipping fee may be applicable, depending on the destination and dimensions of the item. 

It’s important to note that shipping via Super Economy and Super Economy Global won’t allow you to track your order. Even though a tracking number may be issued, it will only be able to provide visibility within China. 

Cainiao Super Economy for Special Goods and Standard For Special Goods

The Special Goods delivery method has two forms, super economy and standard. However, for this shipping method to apply the items require to have a value less than $5 and weigh less than 2 kg. 

The difference between the non-special goods and special goods category is the cost, speed and tracking ability. Shipping for the special goods category is usually faster at about 20 – 40 days, unless the economy method is selected.

The special goods method is typically more expensive and gives you the ability to track your shipment end-to-end.

Cainiao Expedited Standard

Cainiao’s Expedited Standard shipping method is basically the same as the special goods category, without the value and size restriction for the items. As a trade off, this shipping method is more expensive than the Super Economy and Super Economy Global method. However, it allows you to track your shipments end-to-end. 

Expedited shipping won’t be able to compare to the traditional expedited shipping methods of DHL, SF International, UPS and FedEx. However, you can expect a reduced delivery window of about 20 – 40 days, similar to the special goods category. 

Cainiao Heavy Parcel Line

The Heavy Parcel Line is a shipping method on AliExpress that is required for goods that don’t meet the dimensions or weight requirements of Cainiao’s economy and standard categories. 

The shipper will automatically provide that option if applicable and will restrict other shipping methods such as economy and standard. End-to-end shipping times are about 30 – 50 days. 

What are the Pros and Cons of Cainiao’s Shipping Methods

The main benefit of selecting a Cainiao shipping method is that it’s typically more affordable than other shipping methods of the same category at the expense of speed. 

While Super Economy and Super Economy Global shipping options are among the cheapest, they usually take 30 – 50 days to arrive at your doorstep. Another downside is that the lowest shipping method tier (economy) doesn’t provide any form of tracking.

Essentially, the trade-off of Cainiao is speed and convenience for a more affordable service. Below are some of the pros and cons of using Cainiao shipping methods on AliExpress:


  • Usually the most affordable option in the category
  • Available most of the time (depending on seller)


  • Shipment tracking only available for special goods and standard category.
  • Long delivery times compared to other methods
  • Wide delivery range (no delivery date projection)

Cainiao Shipping vs AliExpress Shipping

While Cainiao was founded by Alibaba Group, AliExpress shipping methods are managed directly by AliExpress. While they may not physically coordinate the shipment or act as the carrier, AliExpress works directly with leading service providers globally to ensure timely and affordable deliveries. 

For example, AliExpress has the following preferred partners:

  • Singapore Post (Singapore)
  • Correos (Spain)
  • Posti-Finland (Finland)
  • SPSR (Europe)
  • UPS (United States)
  • Direct Link (global)
  • DHL (Global)

There is also a difference in terms of service speed and occasionally cost. AliExpress promises shorter shipping times than Cainio’s shipping methods. Cainio’s estimated delivery time time is about 20 – 40 days for standard and 30 – 50 days for economy, while AliExpress Standard is 15 – 45 days and AliExpress Premium is about 7 to 15 days.

AliExpress shipment methods usually indicate the estimated day of delivery, whereby Coiniao’s shipping methods usually indicate a wide date range. While both methods are classified as economy and standard, they can also provide free shipping, depending on the item and destination country. 

Lastly, as AliExpress works with more premium logistics partners, all of their shipments are trackable. This means that you’ll get a tracking number that you can use to track your shipment. This is not available for Cainiao’s economy service, only for the standard and special goods category. 

Here is a closer look at the similarity and differences between Cainiao Shipping vs AliExpress Shipping:

Shipping MethodEstimated DeliveryCostTracking
AliExpress Standard15 – 45 daysFree to LowYes
AliExpress Premium7 – 15 daysLow to HighYes
Cainiao Economy30 – 50 daysFree to LowNo
Cainiao Expedited20 – 40 daysLow to MediumYes

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Agnes Aui

Head of Marketing
at freightcourse

About the Author

Agnes is the Head of Marketing at freightcourse and seamlessly blends her strong background in content management with strategic marketing expertise.

She brings a wealth of knowledge to readers, specializing in various e-commerce topics such as order fulfillments, purchasing, payments, and more.