Across China’s biggest cities, the scene has become as familiar as grimy skies and crowded subways. Helmeted, scooter-riding delivery people barrel through business districts at noontime ferrying bowls of noodles and skewers of lamb to hungry wage earners. Office tower lobbies are thick with drivers schlepping food bags.
In China, cheap labor and the advent of smartphone food-delivery apps have combined to transform office lunchtime culture. Meals appear with a few swipes on a smartphone, and customers get up to 30 deliveries for as little as $3 a month.
With the three major delivery services offering similar pricing schemes and food choices across China, the burden of competition has fallen largely on the speed of the delivery people—mostly young men popularly known as Waimai Xiaoge, or “Brother Takeaway.”
Young women smile and say the delivery men are better than boyfriends; unlike their male beaus, the Waimai Xiaoge always deliver.
The Journal compares Takeaway Brothers to Olympic athletes, but the real benchmark are Mumbai’s Dabbawalas, whose impeccable meal-time logistics have become the stuff of Harvard Business School case studies. When can we expect a Brother Takeaway vs. Dabbawala race?