Food delivery giants dabble in services

Chinese food delivery giants, including Eleme and Meituan, have been exploring the local services market, delivering a variety of retail goods and offering door-to-door services such as manicures, hairdressing and domestic services to customers.

A courier from Eleme, an online food delivery platform, picks up books ordered by a client from a Xinhua Bookstore outlet in Shanghai. (Photo by Ding Ting/Xinhua)

As a result, in addition to food delivery, Chinese couriers are now also running all kinds of errands from buying bottled water or vegetables for customers, to queuing up and delivering medicine.

“Apart from buying vegetables and cigarettes for customers, I’ve also put out the trash and delivered fresh flowers for them,” said a courier surnamed Ding, who is over 60 years old and has more than five years of experience working in the food delivery sector.

“I mainly take orders for takeout food at noon and in the evening, and also errand-running orders during the off-peak period for food delivery,” Ding noted, adding that he has received more errand-running orders in recent years, mainly for delivering medicine and buying vegetables and daily necessities for customers.

Eleme recently updated its app and announced its expansion to local services. According to an executive from the company, the move is underpinned by growing demand for these services from consumers.

In 2019, the total trade volume of China’s internet-based consumer services market exceeded 2 trillion yuan, an increase of 45.3 percent year on year, according to an industrial report.

“Local services are very lucrative,” said Chen Liteng, an analyst from the China E-Commerce Research Center.

The recent expansion by China’s food delivery behemoths has intensified the fierce competition in the country’s local services market.