Something that China does quite well is food, and meal delivery services are almost always an expected feature in the restaurant business, though many restaurant choices are not as savory as others. For hungry workers, finding the best food can be a difficult process. Enter Delivery Hero China, or Waimai Chaoren, the one-stop delivery solution for all of Shanghai’s food enthusiasts. I met with the mastermind, Lucas Englehardt, a few months ago while he was in Beijing, and he had the following to say about the business and how it all started.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how everything began here in China.
I first came to China to study Mandarin and fell in love with the energy and pace of change in the country. Since moving here full time 6 years ago, the contrast between the long history and current rapid economic transformation has continued to fascinate me. I used to joke that I moved to China for a love of vegetable dumplings, now that I’m in the food business it’s kind of true!
We started the restaurant delivery site Aimifan.com in 2011 to solve our own problem: how to find more quality options for lunch delivery. From humble beginnings we’ve slowly grown to over 200 restaurants with both English and Chinese versions. In 2012 we were acquired by Delivery Hero in Germany and we are now moving to their platform, including Delivery Hero branding, so we can continue to grow further. After months of work, we’re excited to launch DeliveryHeroChina.com (English) / 外卖超人 (Chinese).
What is Delivery Hero China and how is it different from the competition?
We partner with both restaurants and restaurant delivery companies to give users one place to get a large selection of quality restaurant delivery options. Ordering online is faster and more convenient than calling by phone. In addition to giving individuals an increased selection of restaurants with customer reviews (who knows where the food in that random flier is coming from), the site remembers your address and past orders to make reordering a breeze. We hand-select all our restaurants to ensure that we provide a reliable experience. This is a different approach from our competitors.
The market for delivery services is rather large. How do you plan to structure your business with many clients and restaurants available?
The focus is currently on middle to high-end restaurants, because they’re the most clean and reliable. Restaurants are only added to the platform after we visit them in person to make sure they meet our high standards. We want to give users healthy, delicious options while supporting local businesses.
At the moment, what is your target for the company? In the next 3 years?
We want to be the best solution for ordering restaurant delivery. To me being the best doesn’t mean being the biggest, as you mentioned, this is a very large and growing market, so we’re focused on providing a convenient experience and amazing customer service.
Who is your target user or audience, and how does Delivery Hero China appeal to them?
DeliveryHeroChina.com is focused on serving white collar workers (both Chinese and foreign) both at home and in the office. The site is bilingual and focused on giving people the food we want to eat ourselves, that is high quality and good value.
Currently you’re based in Shanghai. Do you plan to expand in the future. Where would your next city be and why?
Currently we’re only in Shanghai Puxi, but we’ll be expanding to other cities. We started with Shanghai, due to it’s dense geography which gives users the largest selection of restaurants. Future cities are selected based on the availability of high quality delivery partners.
How many active users do you have now? Where do you get most of your revenue?
We’re lucky to have a very active user base with many ordering weekly or even daily. Revenues come in the form of commissions from restaurants, so for users the price is the same as calling to order but with a more convenient experience.
How are you currently marketing Delivery Hero China?
My first company was a marketing agency so working on growing this company through performance-based marketing has been a lot of fun for me. I love the Delivery Hero brand and as this is an online-to-offline business model there have been an interesting mix of marketing opportunities both online and offline. Our Weibo account is something I’m proud of, as it has more than 10k real, targeted fans. We distribute branded materials through our restaurants and to targeted buildings.
What is the next step for you?
There’s a long list of cool features that we’re working to add, and as always we’re signing up new restaurants daily. We have a great team doing tech, sales, marketing and customer support. We’re looking to grow it, so personally I’m busy interviewing and working on partnerships.
Do you have any other thoughts for us?
They’re not cheap but you’ve got to try OMG’s organic cupcakes. Users are often surprised at the variety of foods we delivery, from baked goods to beverages. We’ve got a lot. OMG was one of our first partners, and it is still a best seller, as their cupcakes are great for office parties or as gifts. Just be careful, I find it tempting to consume a whole dozen myself!
It can be really aggravating to find a good meal when there is work to do and you need some quick chow, so any delivery service that can lighten the burden of choice is a welcome addition in China. It is typically hard to find reviews for a variety of restaurants, so building off of user information and input and making delivery more efficient will hold restaurants more accountable to the quality of their food and services. For anyone in Shanghai, you might want to give Delivery Hero a try.