Online to offline(O2O) businesses were born in America, but are now blooming in China with an estimated more than 1000 O2O enterprises having been set up by the end of 2014, according to tech website Hexun.com.
The flourishing of O2O in China has attributed to the advanced growth of smartphone manufacturing and enormous numbers of mobile Internet users, rising to 557 million by the end of 2014, according to China Internet Network Information Center. Chinese customers have been spoiled by the conveniences offered through a single press of a smartphone. The habit largely feeds the huge industry.
AllChinaTech has compiled a list of five rising stars in O2O sector in 2015, classified according to amount of funding raised, uniqueness of business model and strategy employed to take on rivals.
Beequick, one-hour grocery delivery platform
Beequick, a Beijing-based one-hour grocery delivery service, launched in May 2014. The company mainly delivers fresh food and daily necessities including spicy crawfish, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, maxi pads and condoms to customers within a guaranteed hour.
It completed its USD 70 million Series C financing in September, vaulting its valuation to around USD 300 million . With this round completed, it has landed a total of four rounds of financing within one year.
Beequick does not have warehouses, distribution hubs or delivery staff. It makes the best of idle community resources, having its unique partners, tens of thousands of mom-and-pop corner shops, complete the last mile of delivery to nearby users who are calling for service.
The guaranteed freshness and speed, and a lot money saved by a light outlay make Beequick stand out at a time when most Chinese startups are faced with an imminent cash crunch. However, Beequick faces fierce competition from e-commerce giant JD.com-owned Daojia, fresh food services Benlai.com and Fruit Day, and rising star Dmall. For more details see here.
Zhai.me, campus-oriented delivery app
Chinese campus-oriented delivery app, Zhai.me, is launched in December 2014 in Shanghai, and rises with exceptional momentum in the delivery industry where big players have been fighting fiercely.
Zhai.me solely targets Chinese dorm room dwellers, a group of Otaku who dislike leaving their rooms to receive packages. Zhai.me completes the last leg of its delivery process by hiring students from residence halls to work as errand boys delivering packages directly to dorm rooms.
Zhai.me raised a total of USD 35 million in financing led by Meituan, China’s leading group-buying and food delivery service, and claims to cover nearly 800 universities in China with more than 20,000 students employed as part-time ‘building directors’ as of September.
With a population of 24 million, university students are a market too large to ignore. Zhai.me serves as a good example of the potential of tapping into university students, a group of heavy mobile phone using, novelty-driven and largely convenience seeking individuals. Campus service platforms have lately swarmed onto the scene include I’m coming, 59 Store and 8DOL.com. For more on this topic see here.
eDaixi, laundry service platform
eDaixi is a successful example of a traditional laundry chain transforming into an online business, perhaps the prototypical example of O2O. eDaixi’s O2O laundry service was established in 2013 by notable Beijing-based laundry chain Rongchang Laundry, a business in continuous operation for 25 years. The company rose as a star in the O2O laundry business in 2015.
eDaixi have two out of 3 BAT giants (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) backing them up, fundraising USD 100 million in a Series-B led by Baidu in August and USD 20 million in angel financing from Tencent last year. With support from Tencent, eDaixi is using Wechat, the largest social network in China, as an entry point for users to place orders.
It charges only RMB 99 (USD 15 dollars) per bag of laundry, with bags permitted a maximum of 33 shirts. Bagfuls of laundry lure more users with cheap prices, and also save the trouble of charging per item. eDaixi very cleverly outsources its operations to cheap laborers in communities to save costs. eDaixi hires people in their 40 ’s, 50’s and 60’s to collect laundry from neighboring communities and deliver bags to laundry stores, which are either owned and operated by Rongchang or one of its partners.
Possessing the overwhelming amount of offline chain stores, eDaixi nows leads the O2O laundry market and largely leaves competitors 24 tidy.com and Ganxike.com far behind.
1jiajie, home cleaning service platform
1jiajie, an O2O home services app founded in 2013 in Beijing, has risen to become the market leader among more than 4000 home cleaning companies in China. The company now provides home services in six Chinese first-tier cities with more than 10,000 cleaners. It landed its Series-C financing raising several hundred million RMB in July 2015 with Tencent thus far having backed its four rounds of fundraising.
It focuses on hourly home cleaning, and also provides services including furnishing, maintenance and cloth washing. 1jiajie has recently launched new services including a cleaning service for companies and a room organizing service, expanding into more specialized markets for home services.
1jiajie selectively hires candidates as employees and trains them to be qualified cleaners. The company said it will use its latest round of financing for hiring and training more highly skilled employees. In order to ensure service is available at all times, 1jiajie provides an online platform for its employees to communicate with users.
Joined by a slew of comparable rivals including Ayibang, Xiaomaguanjia and Yunjiazheng, 1jiajie is faced with ever greater pressure from home service platforms launched by the likes of classifieds giant 58 Ganjii and e-commerce major JD.com.
Helijia, beauty service platform
Helijia, a pioneer in O2O beauty services targeting white-collar female clients, was founded in March, 2014. Starting with manicure home service, it now provides several beauty home services from pedicures to hairdressing and eyelash beautifying, to makeup & styling and foot & hand care. Having completed three rounds of financing in one year, Helijia claimed in February to have raised USD 50 million in a Series-C funding. It claims it’s valued at USD 300 million.
Helijia launched an incentive plan to hire skillful manicurists by allowing them to sign contracts with Helijia and bringing them onto the online platform. This move gives prospective manicurists the opportunity to manage their own brands without giving commissions to Helijia. Excellent manicurists are sent to Japan for further training.
After Chinese New Year, clients can also enjoy three kinds of services — manicurist, hair stylist and dresser– at the same time with one order.
Although Helijia is a market leader, it is in competition with a number of rivals, including Dudumeijia.com, Meidaojia.com, Meirongzongjian and a manicure service launched by 58 Daojia.
（Photos from Baidu Images)