China is the land of booming e-commerce and online-to-offline (O2O) services, and the food industry is not excluded. A fleet of apps are now available and offer a range of options to please any palate. All you have to do is sign up with your address, select your meal from the list, and within about an hour, your meal will arrive at your door like magic. Most of the time, cash is not even necessary if you have Wechat Wallet or Alipay on your phone!
Take-out and delivery aggregation platforms isn’t a new concept, but China takes it to a whole new level. You can hardly walk out your door without coming across the telltale e-bike outfitted with a insulated basket delivering 外卖 (waimai, takeout).
If you’re in a hurry, indecisive, or just plain hungry in China, check out one of these apps below:
1. 饿了么 ｜ Ele.me (Are you Hungry?)
This Shanghai based company is one of the most popular options for delivery. After entering your address for delivery, the app uses your location to filter through hundreds of restaurant options by proximity. After selecting items from the menu, users are able to choose between online payment options like Alipay and Wechat Wallet, or cash on delivery. Ele.me, which translates to “Are you Hungry?” is currently leading the takeout market with a 40% share, and recently snagged a 1.25 billion dollar investment from tech giant, Alibaba.
2. 美团外卖 ｜ Meituan Waimai
Meituan Waimai is another power player in the delivery business. Housed under the Meituan group buying service which joined forces with Dianping (a platform similar to Yelp!) last December, Meituan also offers a plethora of local options. The look and feel is similar to ele.me, its biggest competitor.
3. 百度外卖 ｜ Baidu Waimai
Even Baidu is getting in on the delivery action! Similar to Ele.me and Meituan Waimai, Baidu has an online platform where users can sign up, enter their address, and filter through a plethora of local restaurant options to be delivered to their door.
Also a Shanghai-based company, Sherpa’s has opted to target a more niche market: English speakers. For Pengyous who are intimidated by an endless list of Chinese options and Chinese language menus, Sherpa’s offers a reprieve. Typically, the restaurants on this app are non-Chinese and therefore a higher price range than the first three apps on this list.
5. 锦食送 ｜ Jinshisong
Jinshisong is similar to Sherpa’s in that it caters to non-Chinese speaking foreigners. The restaurant options are also largely Western and in a higher price range, and the menu and app is in English. For both Sherpa’s and Jinshisong, users can opt to pay online with Alipay or Wechat Wallet, or pay cash for their delivery on it’s arrival.
6. 回家吃饭 ｜ Hui Jia Chi Fan
Finally, there’s hui jia chi fan, which roughly translates to “return home to eat”. This app is centered on local chefs who can register to make home-cooked meals and deliver them to users nearby. Users can pay online using the app or give cash on delivery. As one of our previous interns, Hannah James, affectionately described it, “it’s like my (Chinese) mom packed my lunch!”
What’s your favorite takeout app? Leave a comment and let us know!