First off, if you haven’t already downloaded the app, do so. Open it up, and you’ll be looking at the home page. The app should know where you are as long as you have location settings enabled and will give a brief one-line address in the top left. You will have to be more specific when you order your food, but more on that later.
So, you have search bar at the top, then ten icons below that all have a specific function. From top-left to bottom-right their meanings are general food and restaurants (美食), convenience stores (卖场便利), fruit (水果), pay someone to go buy something for you that maybe isn’t on the normal ele.me (跑腿代购), sweet drinks like smoothies and milkshakes (甜品饮品), top rated (星选好店), pharmacies (送药上门), places with discount (大牌惠吃), courier services (蜂鸟秒送), and collect hongbao or red envelopes (签到领红包).
Below that are three boxes that are links to other websites where you can buy movie tickets (电影), book a hotel (酒店), and buy train tickets (火车票).
Scroll down and you’ll find a bunch of links under the banner of discounted stuff (优惠专区), then below that is a list of options that the app recommends after collecting data from your previous orders (专属推荐). As you can see, mine is Bites x Brews and Yang’s Dumplings. Make of that what you will.
Keep scrolling and you’ll get to the things you’ve bought before that are in your area (附近买过). This section is useful for your regular purchases. Below that is a slot often occupied by a big brand like Starbucks (优享大牌).
Keep going down and you’ll get to a list of places that don’t deliver (到店自取), then below that is the drop down menu of all the places that are relatively close by that ele.me recommends you buy from (推荐商家).
Tap on the restaurant you want and the menu will appear. Most restaurants that are popular with foreigners like Currify will have English translations there somewhere, but if not, it might be time to use your dictionary. Once you’ve selected everything you want to order, tap the green button in the bottom-right of your screen that says 去结算.
This will take you to the payment page, and the first thing to do is enter your address. Tap the first box at the top for address, then tap 新增地址 in the top-right corner. From top to bottom, it needs your name or the name of the person to contact (联系人), male (先生) or female (女生), phone number (电话), road or building (地址), more specific details like flat number/floor etc (门牌号), then finally whether the address is your home (家), company (公司), or school (学校).
Once that's all filled in, go back to the payment page and check the payment method you choose underneath adress. Next thing down is the price breakdown. The first cost you see will be the food, then the delivery boxes (餐盒), then delivery fee (蜂鸟专送), then any discount you got (店铺满减优惠), and finally if you have any hongbao you can use (红包). In the below screen shot, you can see there are two available, so just tap on that and the ones you have will appear at the top of the screen. Select the one you want to use and it will be applied to the price of your order.
If you want to add a message about the food like add sauce or give two sets of chopsticks, you can write it a little further down in the section called 订单备注.
Once you’re happy with your order, tap the green button in the bottom-right that says 确认支付 and you’ll be taken to your payment method that you selected earlier. After payment confirmation, a map should appear with the distance between your location and where the place you ordered from is. Your driver will appear on the map and you can track his progress as he makes the delivery.
To get more hongbao, people can send them to you, or you can send them to yourself when the below message pops up. Tap 分享领红包 and it should take you to WeChat, where you can select a person to send it to. If you send to yourself, you just tap on the message and the hongbao should be automatically added to your Ele.me.
To contact the driver, tap 电话骑手 to call him or 在线联系 to send him a message. When he arrives, he’ll almost definitely call you, so have your phone at the ready.
Other Useful Features
Buying medicine (送药上门) is a useful feature if you’ve got a hangover and you need ibuprofen (布洛芬) sent to your door. Just scroll down the list of pharmacies and it should be one of the first things they have on display. The payment and address display is the same as when you order food.
The convenience store (卖场便利) feature is great for when you need a 12-pack of bottled water, a bundle of computer paper, a new phone charging cable or just about anything that is in stock at a grocery store or convenience store. Everyone from the massive Lianhua chain to City Shop to your local Alldays is on there, so if your Chinese is good enough to navigate this section, there are big rewards in terms of time-saving. No more hauling groceries home on the metro!