Errand running business expands

Wang Shengnan, born after 1990, finds herself often relying on shopping agents when it comes to buying trustworthy foreign goods, such as clothes and cosmetics.

“Compared with me, they (shopping agents) are more professional,” said Wang, who works in Beijing’s Shunyi district.

Zhao Lili, an HR staff member, pays people for errand running services, such as sending documents required for visa applications to the visa center. “There is a long distance between my company and the visa center. To save time, I’d like to pay someone for delivering the documents on my behalf,” Zhao shared.

A designated driver works at night. (Photo/

For Liu Yong, from north China’s Hebei province, designated driving is very necessary when he drinks alcohol. “Only several minutes after being called, the designated driver arrives at the designated place. This is very convenient,” Liu said.

The phenomenon of letting other people do things on behalf of you while paying them for the service is actually a result of the deepening division of labor and the development of the economy, said Luo Laijun, an expert at Renmin University of China.

The development of mobile internet has also relieved the information imbalance between service providers and demanders. Because of the huge spillover and demonstration effects of the internet, more people are looking to satisfy their needs through the internet, noted Tan Jun with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

However, the development of the errand running business needs to be regulated, experts pointed out. For instance, users could ask for legal help if their legitimate rights are infringed and their personal information is leaked while entrusting other people to do things on their behalf.

In other cases where the services are considered illegal, such as hiring people to write a thesis, and fight or beat someone else for you, the service demanders commit an act against the administration of public security or even the criminal law.

According to Luo, this special business should not be put under too much pressure and deserves more room for development.

“The development of the sector could guide surplus labor force to the service industry, and stabilize and improve employment rate,” said Tan.

At the same time, it is very necessary to improve legislation and supervision of the sector by regulating relevant platforms and phasing out illegal ones. Experts advise the platforms should earnestly fulfill their responsibilities by warning users of possible risks.