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Online meal order platform a hot dish for Chinese

Publication Date : 28-01-2014

 

Online shoppers can now sate their appetites by ordering hot dishes from restaurants to be ready at a table nearby or to enjoy at work or home.

A new online cuisine ordering service, taodiandian, which was launched on December 20, allows users to place online orders for meals that will be ready and waiting at restaurants or to order takeout for delivery to a place and time of their convenience.

"It will promote the online shopping service," said Wang Yulei, the manager in charge of the online cuisine ordering department under taobao.com, a major online shopping service provider in China.

In a six-month pilot period from June, the new service served meals to about 3 million users.

The highest daily orders made by phone apps exceeded 30,000, according to statistics released by the taodiandian managing office.

Most of the users were students and young working people.

Zhang Yajun, 26, a resident of Shijiazhuang, is a big fan of the service. She said the lingering smog made her hesitant of walking somewhere for dinner.

She used to order hamburgers and pizza, but she preferred to have hot Chinese dishes.

"I made my first order using taodiandian for soup for 30 yuan (US$5). It arrived at my apartment in 30 minutes with no extra charge for delivery," she said. She has recommended the service to friends.

Another service helps customers order from restaurants in advance.

A survey conducted by the managing office of taodiandian found that people usually spend about 11 minutes ordering at a restaurant and the service greatly reduces their waiting time.

Restaurant chain Chamate, one of the first to use the service, has reduced servers' costs by 20 per cent.

"One waiter could only serve at most two tables but now they can serve four to five tables with the help of online ordering," said Huang Shanping, owner of four chain restaurants in Hangzhou. "The new online ordering service gives us a chance to upgrade our business."

His restaurants list the most popular dishes from online orders as combos for promotions, and advice from users' comments have helped them.

"This new service is currently restricted to 3,000 restaurants in seven big cities," said Wang from taodiandian. "We will expand it to cover more restaurants and cities."

The catering industry has experienced a boom with revenue exceeding 2 trillion yuan at the end of 2012, according to a report from taobao.com.

Previously, online cuisine services offered group-buying discounts, provided information on discounts and only allowed the booking of set meals decided by the restaurants, said Wang Liyang, an independent expert of network marketing.

Wang Xiaodong, who runs a shop that has joined the taodiandian online service, agreed.

"My soup store has no tables and only does takeouts, and this new way to order online is quite promising," said Wang, who has also opened two online shops selling notebooks and children's clothing.

"I plan to help other restaurants, small and big, to set up their own online ordering pages, providing delivery if necessary," he said.

 

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