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Hungry Now? Crackdown on China’s Food Delivery Apps Eleme and Meituan

China’s food delivery app market has been booming over the previous year. Apps like Eleme, Meituan and Baidu Takeout make ordering in a piece of cake. But China’s popular food apps are under scrutiny now that Chinese media exposed that these apps illegally sell food from unqualified vendors.

Manya Koetse

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China’s food delivery app market has been booming over the previous year. Apps like Eleme, Meituan and Baidu Takeout have made ordering food a piece of cake. But China’s popular food apps are under scrutiny now that Chinese media exposed that these apps illegally sell food from unqualified vendors.

Ordering food in China’s urban areas has never been so easy. Apps like Eleme (roughly meaning ‘Hungry Now?’) or Meituan make it possible to order virtually anything you want from restaurants and shops in the vicinity and have it delivered on your doorstep. The variety of choice depends on one’s location – there are more vendors to choose from within the app in city centers of, for example, Shanghai, Beijing or Tianjin, than the available options in their suburbs.

But once you’re in the right spot, there’s a ton of options. Due to the hyped market, there are competitive prices and vendors often offer deals and discounts to lure customers. Eleme and Meituan allow users to order anything from pizza to Mexican, from dim sum to sushi. Besides food, the apps also have options to buy beverages and alcohol, different kinds of medicine (including the morning after pill), face masks for smoggy days, or sex toys for hot nights.

Eleme and Meituan have now become the focus of scrutiny since CCTV’s annual consumer rights day TV show took aim at China’s food apps, as People’s Daily and Reuters report.

According to Chinese media, Eleme and Meituan are involved in illegal business by selling food from unlicensed restaurants.

Local restaurants can apply to sell their goods through these popular food apps. Especially now that cities like Beijing have been cracking down on street food, selling food door-to-door and being relatively ‘invisible’ to authorities is an appealing way to make money for many vendors.

After the CCTV programme aired on Tuesday, the food and drug administrations in Shanghai and Chengdu stated on Wednesday that they have launched investigations into Eleme, China Daily reports. CCTV reported on Weibo that Beijing authorities will also investigate different food order platforms in the capital. Meanwhile, Eleme’s vice president Guo Guangdong (郭光东) apologized to the public and vowed to take measures to rectify the situation.

cctv weibo eleme

But, as People’s Daily reports, Eleme users point out that vendors who have gone offline on the app are now offering their services under a different name.

This is not the first time apps like Eleme are targeted by Chinese media. In October last year, CCTV also reported that Meituan and Eleme facilitated illegal vendors to do business.

Meanwhile on Weibo, it is not the food quality or safety that worries netizens, but Eleme’s service. As one netizen called Black Mad Devil Tang Official writes:

Such a lousy app like Eleme shouldn’t be allowed to exist! The delivery guy was already halfway to bring me a salad and still it takes two hours with him calling me every other minute to ask for directions, are your delivery staff crawling their way to my house or what? He’s not only slow, but he first calls me to tell me he’ll be there in half an hour, and then five minutes later he calls me again to tell me it’ll take another 20 minutes, are your delivery guys like ticking time bombs?!

One commenter said: “Instead of ‘Hungry Now?’ they should change their name to ‘I’m Starving’.”

– By Manya Koetse

You might be also interested to read: China’s Top 10 Apps by What’s on Weibo (2015) 

Image: http://img2.iyiou.com/Cover/2015-10-29/gongsi-elemmeituan.jpg

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sarita Gupta

    December 24, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    great blog….In today’s era people have reached to mobile phone and most of the restaurants are move themselves into online platform by publish android application to grab business from online platform. AppsBazar have a unique Restaurant Business Solution which will provide you an option to create your own app and move your restaurant at online platform.

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China Digital

TikTok’s In-Video Search Function (And How to Activate It)

TikTok shows a glimpse of what in-video search is going to look like in the future.

Manya Koetse

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What is TikTok’s new in-video search function and how to activate it?

Twitter’s most awesome WeChat guru Matthew Brennan recently posted about an “in-video search function” launched in the Chinese social video app TikTok (抖音). (Click here to read about the difference between the Chinese and overseas version of TikTok).

As shown in a video posted by Brennan, the function allows TikTok users to select the face or clothes of a person appearing in a short video to search for other videos or images containing the same person or clothes.

The ‘vision search’ is a powerful new function within the super popular app.

The idea is that it becomes easier than ever for Tiktok users to find (and buy!) a piece of clothing, that perfect handbag, or even a snack featured in a video.

It also helps users to quickly find other videos in which an online celebrity appears. The function ultimately is an additional feature that keeps users scrolling and shopping within the app – increasing app traffic – as long as possible.

On September 16, Chinese media reported about the function as a “powerful” new tool that greatly strengthens the functionality of the popular short video app.

The function might not immediately seem completely new to Chinese app users; like Google Image Search, Baidu and Taobao also have similar functions (百度识图, 淘宝识图).

On e-commerce platform Taobao, for example, you can take a photo of an item you want (e.g. a certain snack as in example below) and Taobao will try to find the exact same product and list the online stores where you can buy it.

But TikTok’s in-video search function is on a whole new level; it does not require users to scan or upload a photo at all. It gives an indication of what visual search will be like in the future.

Whatever video comes by in your TikTok stream, you only need to click the “search” function (识图), select the part of the video you want to search for (you can drag the square from area to area), and TikTok will find the product or face you’re looking for – as long as there are comparable products/faces (it does so very fast).

Very much like Taobao, TikTok will recommend various (in-app) online stores where the product can be purchased.

Want to try out the function? For now, it only works in the Chinese version of the app and is still in the ‘testing phase’ and does not work with all videos.

Make sure you have an updated version of TikTok.

1. Go to “me” (我) page within TikTok
2. Tick the three lines in the top right corner
3. Go to the last option in the sidebar menu titled “lab” (实验室)
4. Activate the function (image below).

So now if you spot a dress you like and would like to buy, press the ‘search’ button on the right of a video, select the dress, and TikTok becomes like your personal shopping assistant looking for similar dresses for you.

Tiktok makes shopping supereasy.

This really makes online shopping more addictive than ever, and also makes it more difficult for people in online videos to hide where they bought their clothing, or what other videos they are in.

Read more about Tiktok here.
Read more about Chinese apps here.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Digital

Didi Riders Can Now Have “Verified Party Members” Drive Them Around

Party-building 3.0? Didi has got it covered.

Manya Koetse

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First published

This is Party-building in the new era: Didi now allows users of its Premier Car Service to let a verified Party member drive them to their destination.

On September 20, as the People’s Republic of China is nearing its 70th-anniversary celebrations, the country’s most popular taxi-hailing app Didi published an article on Weibo and WeChat explaining its verified Party Member Driver Program.

Recently, riders in Beijing may have noticed something different at Didi’s Premier Car service, which is called “Licheng” 礼橙专车 since June of last year.

Some of Licheng’s drivers now have a red background to their profile photos accompanied by a Communist Party emblem. Upon clicking the profile of these drivers, customers will see that this driver is a Party Member Driver (“党员司机”) – meaning that the Didi driver’s status as a Party member has been verified through Didi’s “Red Flag Steering Wheel” program (红旗方向盘项目) that was set up in November 2018.

Didi’s “Red Flag Steering Wheel” program (红旗方向盘项目) that was set up in November 2018. Image via Guancha.

Didi writes that these drivers can also be identified as Party members through the red sticker on the dashboard at the passenger side, which literally says “Party member driver.”

The article explains that the recent project is an effort to contribute to China’s Party-building in the digital era, and that Didi aims to establish a Party member community within its company.

This car is driven by a Party member (image via Didi/Weibo).

The company is apparently planning to make this community a lively one, as it promises to provide online and offline activities that will help these drivers stay up to date with the latest developments within the Party, and that will increase their “Party awareness.”

Starting this month, Didi will reportedly also offer “patriotic classes” to all of its drivers via its online classroom program.

China has more than 88 million Party members. Party membership does not come overnight; those who want to become a Communist Party member need to attend Party courses, pass written tests, be recommended by other members, and pass a screening (read more here).

As for now, riders cannot manually pick to have a Party member as their driver; a nearby driver will be automatically selected when they order a car – if it is a Party member, they will know straight away from the driver’s profile.

For now, Didi has set up “mobile Party branches” in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and a number of other cities.

On Weibo, some see the initiative as a marketing move from Didi’s side. “If you hear the driver is a Party member, you know it’s reliable. It’s a good thing.”

The past year was a tough year for Didi, after the murders of two young women by their Didi driver made national headlines, causing outrage and concerns about customer’s safety when hailing a car through the Didi company.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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