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[Updated]: Has Mealbay Gone Out of Business?
By Jan 10, 2018 Dining
It’s still speculation but it appears that delivery service Mealbay, which we once called the Jan Brady of food delivery services, has gone out of business. You know, the one that’s not Sherpas or Eleme or Meituan. Mealbay. The website has disappeared. The phone number has been disconnected. Partner restaurants that we contacted said “something is wrong” with Mealbay and suggested we use Sherpa’s instead.

***

If it’s true, and if our understanding is correct, the real loser here is not the customer, but all the partner restaurants. The business model, as we understand it, was for Mealbay to collect funds from the customer — basically take all the money — and then hold on to it until the end of the month, when they did the accounting and disbursements. So, the worst case scenario here is that, being the middle of the month, the company has pulled a runner with any money collected since the last round of pay-outs, which is potentially tens of thousands of RMB. Only a possibility — not a fact! — but they wouldn’t be the first company in China to do this. Again, speculation, but it also seems like a good bet that Yum!’s backing of Sherpas just made the orange army too strong to fight, and Mealbay succumbed.

More to the story as it develops.

[Update]: SmartShanghai managed to get in touch with Mealbay and they've confirmed that they've shuttered their business. They declined to comment further.

4 comments.

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  • 3 months ago gintonic

    After Sherpa's was bought by Yum! they started pushing their restaurant partners into being their exclusive partner for English language delivery services. So restaurants had to choose between either Sherpa's or Mealbay. Obviously most of them chose Sherpa's. What was left for Mealbay were restaurants that couldn't be on Sherpa's, for example because they didn't have the proper restaurant/hygiene licenses, like the Nosh copy GoodDelivery. However recently newly introduced regulations require that delivery companies only work with fully licensed restaurants, so that started being a big issue for Mealbay. And with the exodus of foreigners Mealbays market was shrinking, and locals wouldn't touch Sherpa's or Mealby when they can use the cheaper and better Elema or Baidu Waimai.

    This is a good day for Sherpa's, but in the long run their business model doesn't have a lot of future as well. Restaurants have been using Sherpa's because they were unable to build their own online ordering solution (which is now possible thanks to services like NoshPos ) and because they didn't want to hire their own delivery team (which they no longer need, they can just call a Dada courier). This saves restaurants the 20+ percent commission they are paying to Sherpa's. Especially bigger restaurants chains will start moving their large volume orders to their own ordering platform where they actually own the customer.

  • 3 months ago jacobflowers

    ^^ What gintonic said. Shame about Mealbay, they had Pier 39 which has those great clam chowder in the bread bowls, but more importantly, sherpas takes FOR-EVER for delivery. Mealbay was so much faster. Every single sherpas order now comes with the disclaimer "sorry, due to lack of couriers, your order will take an extra 20 minutes", and it doesn't seem like they are interested in fixing this issue since... 2015.

  • 3 months ago ca5 Unverified User

    Even with limited Chinese you can navigate Elema and Baidu Waimai. if needed get a Chinese friend to help you set it up, takes 5 minutes. then you can browse the pictures of the meals you want to order.

    100 times quicker sherpa's with their shitty service and as jacob flowers said their 2 year disclaimer saying that all orders will be 20 minutes late....sometimes cold food and over 1.30 / 1.45 hours late. They deserve to go out of business so many better options out there

  • 3 months ago GanMa

    ''it also seems like a good bet that Yum!’s backing of Sherpas just made the orange army too strong to fight, and Mealbay succumbed.''

    Um no, straw poll amongst my mates here is that Mealbay AND Sherpas are losing out to eleme and MeiTuan. Both the Chinese apps are super easy to use *even if your Chinese is limited*. I think Mealbay would've gone under sooner or later, and i think Sherpas will too. Neither have upped their game, neither have invested in the tech that is expected in China these days and neither offer a superior service or restaurant list.

    Expats these days aren't as reliant on these English language services. Takes a few minutes to learn what buttons to press on eleme, and most foreign restaurants are listed under their English name. I've not used either Mealbay nor Sherpas in over a year.

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