Article by XIANEASE
Living in Xi’an is like watching a movie in fast forward. Things move and change at a rate that is hard to see elsewhere. One change that has been fully embraced by citizen and corporation alike is the move to online operations. With 78.8% of the country on mobile phones, businesses country wide have become available at a tap of the screen. This means that you are able to access more products from more vendors than ever before. If you have your online payment method set up (Alipay, WeChat Pay, etc.), then you’ll be good to go.
As such we have decided to breakdown some of the best apps available to improve your quality of life while living in the Middle Kingdom. We have also have added a ranking off required level of Chinese in order to use the app, so that you’ll know what you’re getting into. Rankings are out of 10, with one being little to no Chinese required, and 10 being high-proficiency language skills.
The app works by sending orders to the restaurant, who will prepare the order and then either hand it off to a brand specific delivery person or will deliver it themselves. Either way, after a half an hour or more, your food will be delivered to your door.
E.le.me is one of the largest restaurant apps that can provide you access to a huge number of restaurants in the city. With pictures for most items on the app, this one is relatively easy to use after the initial set up.
Meituan is a group buying website that has since spawned of into a mega conglomerate that covers restaurant ratings (via 大众点评), discounts, and delivery. Like 饿了么, there is a massive selection of restaurant available on the app, though it might not have the exact same restaurants, as some places opt for one or the other
Restaurant Specific Apps
Many restaurants have started to roll out their own apps, in order to avoid mandatory fees paid to the intermediary apps. Most of your large international chains such as Starbuck, McDonald’s, etc. will have an English version of their app as well, which makes usage a breeze. You just need to input your address.
If you are the type of person that likes to cook at home, then you know the daily or weekly struggle of heading out for provisions. Long lines and seemingly completely random organization in some supermarkets can make the experience less than pleasant. Recently, several home delivery grocery stores have arisen to assist you. Place an order and your groceries will be delivered to your home in a preselected time frame.
Hippo has been operating in Xi’an for a few years now, and the number of locations has expanded rapidly since then, putting many people in their 2km delivery radius. Hippo is backed by Taobao parent company Alibaba, so the primary payment method is through Alipay.
7Fresh is a more recent addition to the city, with locations in the East, North, and Southeast of the city. This delivery supermarket is backed by Jingdong, and will accept a greater variety of payment methods, including WeChat Pay.
Jingdong Home Delivery
This app functions more like the restaurant delivery apps, in that your order placed through the app, is sent to the supermarket, which will assemble your package for delivery. You can select from a single supermarket, such as Walmart or Vanguard, or from multiple supermarkets. It should be noted that selecting multiple different locations might slow down your delivery.
Whenever you ask where you can get something, people will inevitably suggest that you search for it on Taobao. ‘Everything’ apps like Taobao and Jingdong have become monolithic in recent years, becoming the go-to place for customers and companies alike. With customer reviews, store rankings, and one of the most comprehensive collection of products on the planet, if you can’t find it on here, you probably can’t find it anywhere. (Except tobacco products; they can’t sell those)
The ubiquitous Taobao has nearly everything except the ability to pay with anything but Alipay. While there are picture for every product, contacting the sellers and reading reviews will require a more extensive use of Chinese.
Jingdong is the only major competitor to Taobao’s dominance, and they have nearly as wide of a selection, plus alternative options of payment, including WeChat Pay. You can also order groceries and everyday items through the in app京东超市
In recent years, in order to alleviate crowding in many of the hospitals around China, there has been a rise in the number of apps for online diagnosis for simple illnesses. Often doctors can ask about the symptoms, and offer simple solutions and recommendations through an online appointment. While obviously you can’t perform many of the tests required for some illnesses, and this will require a decently high–level of Chinese, it may be an option for avoiding the troubles of going to the hospital.
This app might best be described as 大众点评 for doctors, as it includes user reviews and the ability to chat through text with specific doctors about what ails you. You can find the best doctors in the city and the country in a certain specialty by browsing through the app, making finding the perfect doctor easier than ever.