Ele.me CEO: Competition with Meituan contributes to faster growth in food delivery

Ele.me garners support and prepares for an escalating battle with the soon-to-be-listed Meituan.

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Ele.me CEO: Competition with Meituan contributes to faster growth in food delivery

Ele.me CEO Wang Lei painted a rosy picture of the state of his company on Monday at Alibaba’s annual investor conference in Hangzhou.

Since the food delivery service was acquired by Alibaba and obtained an additional US$3 billion capital injection after its recent merger with Koubei, Ele.me has seen its monthly active users grow by more than 30% this year, he said.

Another milestone he pointed out was a surge in sign-ups for Ele.me’s “gold membership” program. On a single day in August, the premium service got as many subscribers as it had in the whole month of July.

All in all, Ele.me says it’s now servicing more than 400,000 merchants – about 10 times more than Meituan, its biggest rival in China.

Wang expects the new entity to achieve 50% of China’s food delivery market share in the short to medium term.

Speedy upgrades and improving the logistics and distribution processes are critical to become the dominant leader, Wang said at the conference. He believes China’s food delivery market is sufficiently large and essentially still at a nascent stage. Fierce competition like the one between Ele.me and Meituan actually contributes to faster growth in food delivery, he argued.

These latest developments were announced just a few days shy of archrival Meituan’s HKEx public debut.

Takeaways:

– Alibaba has a huge pool of users from its other e-commerce platforms that channel user traffic to Ele.me. Ant Financial, also an Ele.me investor, can provide the additional cash needed as burn rates surge. All of these support for Ele.me to succeed in its catch up game.

– The new entity seems to be seeing massive growth recently and is looking to garner 50% of China’s food delivery market share even as Meituan seeks to consolidate its market position.

– The next real battle in China’s food delivery space will be around building and improving exisiting delivery operations to make it a better experience for users and offering more than food delivery to make the app sticky.

– The food delivery battle is separating into the two well known rival camps Alibaba vs. Tencent.

Editor: Nadine Freischlad, Ben Jiang