Over more than 200 million users in China, the number speaks all the success of Wechat (Weixin) at this moment. Though just an extended idea of SMS, because it is multi-media, social, LBS etc, Chinese people have been blown away by it. And I discovered lately that food related online companies have given lot of thoughts into Wechat.
Again for background knowledge of Wechat, you can check my previous post here. Well, Chinese people are reputable foodies, and life is mostly centered about what to eat and where to eat. That is why I have seen the spawn of numerous food Apps here (including restaurant review, recommendation, coupons etc). Now to strengthen love relation with their users, some considered Wechat is an additional yet indispensable conduit.
Lehe.com is one example. Launched toward the end of 2011, this app already gained over 9 million users, and imposed as a strong threat to Dianping (China’s most influential Yelp kind service). The two actually underwent ugly fight a while ago and Lehe was even removed from App store, TWICE, due to Dianping’s accusation of complete plagiarism. However Lehe kept coming back and managed to stay in this game. Lehe had firsly begun this special feature of “Shake your phone and get your LBS recommendation”. However soon Dianping adopted this idea into its own App. Guess in China internet world, there is really no such thing as “who copies who”.
In fact, since Dianping started as a user generated content website 9 years ago while Lehe jumped straight into Apps recently, my personal App user experience judged Lehe is superior. It is simply your “food nanny” in your palm, and you have to play it until you fall in love with it.
Lehe opened its Wechat account in October this year. Because Wechat has this built in “Location” function, all you have to do is click on that button and send it to Lehe. Then Lehe would reply you a list of recommended restaurant within your vicinity. Or if you just type your favorite dish name, Lehe would give you opinions as well.
Having said this, I have not seen Dianping’s presence in Wechat yet. Perhaps Dianping is still thinking about it. Someone might say “if my users are addicted to my App, why bother doing Wechat?” Um...I do not know, but additional conduit won’t hurt. I might “wechat” a friend about meeting me nearby and need search quick answer for a dining place, so the best way is probably messaging Lehe, instead of activating its App.
And what about those online food site without their Apps? I noticed this one, waimai.net, an online portal site for searching takeout food, which has not developed its App yet. A quite lame website actually, but its Wechat account actually makes it much cooler. Again I clicked on the “Location” button in Wechat and sent it to Waimai; next it replied me a list of 15 takeout restaurants’ names within 1 km radius of my residence. It also told me the whole menu in each restaurant with prices and phone number (BTW, currently this service is available only in Shanghai). Well, please bear in mind that in China many people still prefer to call the restaurant for ordering takeout food.