Man on the Street is a regular series where we talk to someone doing an everyday job, in order to gain insight into the lives of normal Chinese people.
When Google extended its services to the field of shopping delivery in America, Baidu’s copycat mavens must have been wondering, “What can we do in China?” The answer they came up with was takeout.
After raising approximately USD300 million at the end of 2015, the web giant’s O2O vessel, Baidu Waimai, set sail into the sea of food delivery service with a fleet of electrical bikes.
Deliverymen on company velocipedes, attired in bright red uniforms and hats, shuttle to and fro between restaurants, coffee shops or bakeries and houses, apartments or offices through a warren of streets, competing against time and weather.
When Lai Jinbao launched into his first day as a deliveryman for Baidu Waimai in Guangzhou, it was a mess. “It was confusing. I wasn’t familiar with routes and locations. I had to refer to the map on my phone and could only do one delivery in a run,” recalls Lai. He is one of 60 Baidu Waimai employees in the commercially active Taojin area.
This is Lai’s first job in Guangzhou, a city which he has been in for only three months. The Jiangxi native is working for a wage of RMB3,000 per month plus ‘reward earning,’ the amount of which is based on the number of orders accomplished as well as ratings from customers and businesses.
Orders are automatically distributed to him by Baidu’s system, which also sets him a maximum delivery time. If he exceeds the time, he receives no rewards. “But it only happens with novices,” explains Lai. His work is recorded in Baidu’s internal app, which is specifically designed for Baidu Waimai staff.
Lai starts his day at 10am and must work eight hours. He receives orders in the app, confirms with the clients, plans out the route in his mind, picks up the packages, drops them off and waits for more orders to come in. “Now I can deliver three or four packages at a time,” he boasts.
The app keeps his score marked according to the number of five-star ratings received, which decides his rank. His rank in return decides the size of reward he can earn per order. Lai is currently a ‘God’s Rider,’ a title that carries with it an additional 1.8 kuai per order.
“We have a quality-control supervisor who takes photos of us to ensure that we appear clean and professional and that we obey traffic rules. We are told to never put packages on the ground,” Lai remarks. “We are picked on sometimes, especially by those running small businesses in wholesale markets. They are picky and have no courtesy. Some don’t even thank you. It’s the worst.”
According to Baidu, its delivery service covers over 100 cities and boasts a total of 30 million registered members in China as of November 2015. For most people, it’s simply a way to make metropolitan life easier. For Lai Jinbao, it’s a way to explore and adapt to a strange new city.
THE DIRTY DETAILS
Monthly salary: RMB6,000 (base wage plus incentives)
Days per week: 7 days
Hours per day: 8
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