17/31: Ordering food in China

Baidu delivery guys. Source QQ.

Ordering food in China is one of my favorite things. You just open your favorite app, choose your favorite restaurant, select your food, pay with WeChat or Alipay and wait for the delivery guy to come in 30–40 min. You don’t even need to know Chinese (if you choose only watching the pictures).

At this moment there are more than six different companies that deliver food in Shanghai alone, Eleme and BaiduWaimai are the most popular ones at this moment, but like everything in China once a good business model enters the market, a lot of competitors start copying the idea.

Almost all the apps look the same, the UI is very similar within apps so the learning curve is not complicated if you are used to at least one of the apps, this is a clever way to attract costumers in China, if you don’t change things too much then the customers would not doubt to change to you if you offer a better service or an extra, they would not need to learn how to use your app because they already do. I’ll talk more about this in future posts.

The app uses a simple UI where you can choose your favorite food

Every day more than 100 million people use one of these apps to get their foods to the office, school or home. The service also helps small restaurants to get more users, as it’s another way to attract clients who can miss your small store on a busy street.

The app and company connects the user, who chooses between a big and complete list of restaurants around him. After selecting the food and paying a notification is sent to the restaurant, who then would accept or reject the user, if they reject you they need to give a reason why (maybe they don’t have the food you ordered or they are really busy and can’t take any more orders at the moment). After this once of the delivery guys is assigned to the client, he picks up the food when it’s ready and using the embedded map navigates him to the users location.

The companies that own the app usually have their own delivery guys, these employees work directly for the app and not for the restaurants. The delivery company assigns them one or two restaurants and an area, then automatically it would send a notification to the delivery person once a client has made a request. At the end the user has to review both, the restaurant and the delivery guy.

It’s a great way for locals and foreigners to order any kind of food. Usually you don’t need to talk directly with the restaurant, but the app lets you send comments or call them to ask for something specific (like asking for a cold coke because the default here is warm).

Someone taught me to use the app and it has been a life changer, for someone who has a very limited skill of spoken Chinese, using this app is the best option for not being hungry.

This story is part of my 31/31 challenge. Following a friend’s idea I will publish at least one story every day for the next month.

If you see any error please let me know, the idea is to stop over-reviewing my stories before publishing them.

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You can connect with me via Twitter following me at @fernandlicon.

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