A Beginner’s Guide to Meituan: Exploring the Posibilities

If you’re Chinese, there’s a good chance that you also have the famous Chinese app known as “Meituan” installed on your phone and you probably use it fairly regularly to order your favorite food via their delivery service (waimai). We’re saying this because certainly the vast majority, if not essentially all Chinese locals are using this absolute gem of an app, but also expats have been jumping on the bandwagon to share what all the fuss is about. And rightly so! In addition to the wonderful concept of convenience and ease, there is much more you can get onboard with right at the tips of your fingers. We have created a guide explaining the basics on Meituan—a Meituan 101 if you like—advising you on the tough stuff in order to simplify things, meaning you can make the most of this lifestyle-changing app, saving you time and money.

Icons at Meituan app homepage

Since its inception in March 2010, Meituan has rapidly grown each year in terms of its active users and gross merchandise value. According to statistics, there are 320 million users and currently the daily gross merchandise value is set at 555 million RMB. Meituan accounts for almost a third of the China food delivery market, at 30.53%. With headquarters in Beijing, 2,800 cities are covered by Meituan. So, if you haven’t taken advantage of opening your door to some steaming jiao zi or pizza after being delivered to your home or office then it’s about time you did!

Some of you know Meituan for its food delivery service but did you know it’s also a platform for food and entertainment deals? That’s right. So not only can you sit back in the comfort of your own home and have your favorite meals delivered to your door, you can also save big on buying set packages and coupons in advance for dining in many restaurants on Meituan. Similarly, did you know that you can also make the most out of a bunch of other entertainment deals including KTV reservations, tickets for the movies and a whole host of other options such as group activities like archery, spa treatments and even hotel bookings? These amenities are endless. There are all kinds of things to take advantage of which means Meituan really does hold something for everyone. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, everything is available at a one-stop-shop with this ingenious app.

Icons at Meituan app homepage

Of course, as with all good things, there is a “downside.” The app is completely in Chinese and so of course, if you cannot read Chinese this presents itself as an issue. Or a challenge! However, once you get the hang of it, and especially with the use of our guide, you really can’t go wrong. Worst case scenario, you ask a friend for help with the specifics or you end up learning some Chinese!

Food Delivery
When you open the app explore with a few clicks by using our simple guide and you will find that it’s almost dangerous you can get food delivered so easily.

The Restaurant Page Of Food Delivery

Once you select a restaurant page, you will see a profile photo and the name of the restaurant at the top. Under that a deal provided by the restaurant will be available—not all of them have deals. Take Green Salad for example: you can get 5 RMB off once you spend 40 RMB, or get 7 RMB off when you spend 59, etc. By using a deal together with a coupon (mentioned later), you might end up with a salad that’s much cheaper than ordering at the restaurant. Click the “+” button to add anything you wish to your shopping cart—some of them will offer different options like sauce, spiciness, etc. And click the button at the bottom right corner which leads you to the payment page.

The Payment Page Of Food Delivery

The Add-Address Page Of Food Delivery

At the payment page, coupons will be shown in red—you need to click and choose. Payment is available with WeChat, Alipay, etc. After ordering, a red envelopment will be displayed and you can share these with your friends by WeChat, QQ or other means. Lucky users will receive the best coupons like 8 or 10 RMB automatically saved to your Meituan wallet. Remember to share them with more friends and have a better chance of winning. The coupon you receive can be kept for your next order as long as it’s before the expiry date.

Food Deals
If you are the type who doesn’t like to cook or eat waimai at home—you may normally spend a lot on eating out. Don’t worry, the food deals in Meituan help you to get the same food at a cheaper price. What could be better?

The Restaurant Page Of Food Deals

The Coupon Page Of Food Deals

The Falafel Pita Set Page Of Food Deals

Input which restaurant or type of food you would like at the search bar and come to the page which will certainly help you and your wallet out. Looking at Dip-It as an example, there are vouchers and set food deals waiting for you. One voucher available worth 100 RMB only costs 80 RMB, and you can use it on any day with all items (some vouchers might specify different items). You can even often use as many of these vouchers as you would like in the same order, if you are ordering with friends for example. You don’t need to make a reservation either. (These details will be shown under the voucher, read carefully with your Chinese friends since there are different restrictions). For example, spend 25 RMB and you will get one Falafel Pita, two pieces of Baklava and one drink—with the original price at 60 RMB. That means you save over 50%! Other deals are quite similar to this. All you have to do is create your order and turn up to the restaurant to enjoy your food and drink.

Entertainment Deals
Entertainment plays an important role in our life, and Meituan offers different deals for us to be able to appreciate activities at a fair price. We have carefully translated all the icons in the “entertainment deals” category so you can have a clear picture of what kinds of options you can choose to experience. Refer to pg. 14 and follow the appropriate icons on the page.

Take KTV as an example: when you open the page, a featured photo will appear at the top—you can see more by clicking the video or photos icons at the right corner of the featured photo.

Step 1 For Entertainment Deals

The address of the selected entertainment venue will be shown in the middle of the page beside the telephone icon. Click the icon to call the respective place or click the address to see where it is on the map.

Step 2 For Entertainment Deals

Step 3 For Entertainment Deals

Step 4 For Entertainment Deals

If you decide to make a reservation, you must select a specific date and group size. After clicking on the next step, it will direct you to a page offering included food and drink deals within the KTV package. Choose the one you prefer before paying for your booking.

Aside from Meituan, we all have our other favorite Chinese apps that life would be so much harder without. Our favorites are Didi and WeChat. Where would we be without WeChat wallet? Or Didi Carpool? Thanks to the design of these smart and savvy mobile aids, our daily lives can be that extra bit more laid-back.

If you decide to go on an impromptu trip or even one that is planned ahead in the likes of somewhere a little further away, selecting the Didi preorder carpool service is the ideal option for maximum convenience and comfort. Be picked up at your door, avoid standing around or entering the subway or waiting for buses. However sadly, this function is not available on the English version, only the Chinese version. That’s why I stick to the Chinese app, despite it seeming tedious or complicated, it’s actually worth it once you know what you’re doing and that doesn’t take long. For example, if you book in advance, (as little as 40 minutes) you can preorder a car either with other passengers or just by yourself for a much cheaper price than ordering an express car—the order just has to be accepted, which it usually is, it just depends on your location and time of day. Of course, the earlier you book, the more chance you have of it being accepted. Just the other day I paid only 85 RMB to return to Wanjiang, Dongguan
from Futian, Shenzhen, by preordering 50 minutes in advance. Admittedly I shared the car with another passenger but that was fine. You can still pay a lot less than the average Didi by ordering earlier, even riding solo.

The only downside to the service is of course the fact that it’s in Chinese, so you will need to copy and paste your address in Chinese into the second line (final destination). The first address line for pick-up automatically uses your GPS location anyway (usually it’s accurate!). If you’re unsure about the address, again, ask a friend who can read Chinese. Following location, selecting a time for pick-up and number of passengers really just requires common sense.

Also, when using Didi you can use and share coupons which will save you and your friends a bit of cash on transportation now and then. These coupons are available whether you order express car or carpool. After paying your transportation fee, if you click on the symbol at the bottom-left of the page, under the ranking system, you can choose how to share the Didi coupons (via WeChat chat window or moments, or Alipay) and once opened you and your friends can confirm the coupon before it is automatically saved into your Didi wallet for your next trip.

Moving on from Didi, did you know that you can book flight tickets and train tickets on WeChat? Did you also know this is simple as the text is in English? Well isn’t that helpful. Search for flights and train tickets on the “Rail & Flights” option available once you enter your wallet. Browse flights and trains as normal and all the usual necessary information is provided in English such as dates, price, class, baggage allowance and more etc. It couldn’t get easier than that for booking your next trip out of Dongguan!