Article by XIANEASE
Back in 2018, we brought you a list of essential apps for a better life in China. We assume that, by now, you’re all locked into WeChat and Didi and all the rest, but China’s service/share economy never sleeps, and now there are a whole new slate of apps that offer unique and convenient services for users. As per usual, these apps tend to be Chinese-forward, so just remember that you might need to flex your Putonghua muscles a little bit (or ask that poor girl at your office who deals with all your laowai questions for help).
PART1 – Buy Your Groceries
Going to the supermarket can be absolute chaos. If you go early, you’ll be fighting tooth and nail with every grandma in a one-mile radius for the freshest stuff; if you go late you’ll be fighting with the after-work crowd for whatever’s left. These apps aim to keep you out of the melee and in the comfort of your own home.
Hema is the Alibaba company’s new chain of mobile-forward supermarkets, filled with fresh meat and produce and lots of other snacks and surprises. It can be fun to check out a Hema location in person, as it has beer carts and a food court and other mildly interesting things like that, but you might find that browsing the entire selection from the safety of the divot your ass has made in your couch is the best way to do it. Hema can be ordered from the Taobao app or its own standalone app. One caveat though: if you’re only using WeChat Wallet and haven’t set up your Alipay account you’ll be out of luck, as there are no alternative payment methods available.
JINGDONG DAO JIA
If you’re one of the people who can’t use Hema because you don’t have Alipay, JD.com’s app, Jingdong Dao Jia (literally “Jingdong Arrives at your House”) will fill the void nicely. Rather than focusing on one supermarket chain, JDDJ ends up being like a Meituan for supermarkets, while also including smaller specialty shops like local fruit and produce markets.
PART2 – DO YOUR ERRANDS
The congestion on Xi’an city streets can turn any quick errand into a time consuming headache. While there aren’t apps for every little thing you need to take care of, these two might at least put a dent in your to-do list.
E DAI XI
E Dai Xi is a door-to-door dry cleaning service. Simple as that. You can order the service by the article, or pay 300RMB for a big bag that you can stuff to the brim with clothes. E Dai Xi is especially good for those special items you just can’t risk having in your washing machine or for larger, harder to clean items like jackets and bedding. It’s not exactly cheap, on the low-end (t-shirts and the like) you’ll end up paying about 20RMB per garment but, like hotel room service, you’re mostly paying for the convenience of not having to go anywhere.
UU is China’s answer to Task Rabbit, and UU drivers can be your Johnny-on-the-Spot for some really helpful services. Many primarily use UU as a courier service, able to send and receive items between two locations (like when our editor-in-chief left his keys at the office and didn’t want to come back), or go to a store and get something for you. Your friendly neighborhood UU Guy can also wait in line for you at the bank, at the hospital or even at restaurants. All for a small fee, of course.
A YI BANG
A Yi Bang, as the name implies, matches users to workers that can provide services they might need around the house, such as cleaning or repairs. Costs will be incurred by the hour, but there is a staggering list of services on offer and could be that extra little bit of oomph you need to get your spring cleaning finished (or started, as it were).
PART3 – TREAT YO-SELF
You got your groceries, you got your errands done; it’s time to relax. These apps will bring a nice little something-something straight to your doorstep.
You might already know about Luckin Coffee, the new chain of cafes spreading like wildfire and really rubbing Starbucks’ face in it like they were a dog that pooped on the carpet. Luckin’s big advantage is they’re moving tiny storefronts into every spare nook and cranny in cities like Xi’an, so they can offer faster, fresher service than any of their competitors, especially since they have their own app and can cut out the Meituan middlemen.
Whether you’re about to have a party and are short of booze, or you’re just trying to kick back with a drop of something, Liquor Easy promises 20-minute delivery for everything your liver dares you to drink. From beer to spirits, from baijiu to actual white wines, Liquor Easy will save you from sobriety quick as can be.
Know any other apps that make your life more convenient? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org