Alibaba's Taobao and Tmall are getting into the logistics business in an effort to reach more customers and save them money.

Last week, China's largest shopping websites, Taobao and Tmall, announced they had partnered with eight Chinese logistics companies to launch the International Parcel Forwarding Service. Aimed at simplifying and lowering the cost of shipping online purchases from mainland China to Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, shoppers in those areas can now save up to 50% in shipping and handling fees, the companies said. 

Alibaba's new service consolidates multiple purchases into packages bound for the same region. Once they reach the region, the packages are forwarded to the specific address. 

After trying to increase their sales to Asian countries with large Chinese-speaking populations, Alibaba has seen shipping difficulties and rising costs, a natural part, the company says, of cross-border delivery and operations. For example, Alibaba says, most Taobao and Tmall merchants don't offer international shipping or do so at a premium. In instances where they do offer international shipping, customers have sometimes had to wait weeks, only to find out that their merchandise was lost. The Alibaba shipping service hopes to prevent its customers such headaches. 

As an added note, the International Parcel Forwarding Service includes a Web-based package-tracking system so buyers can follow the progress of their orders online. 

Taobao and Tmall officials said they expect to expand the service to other Asian cities and countries in the near future.

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