I have to confess, I’ve never actually been to Shanghai’s Costco. I assume it doesn’t function too differently than the ones in the States, and I was thoroughly put off from it after seeing the crowds from opening week. People mountain, people sea.
The main reason, though: it’s in Qingpu. I don’t live in Qingpu. I live very far from Qingpu. As much as I miss Costco and the warehouse full of wonderful things in bulk, it’s not worth the trip and membership commitment.
Enter the Neighborhood store in Qun Jie Long, a WeChat mini-program. Neighborhood does daigou 代购 for Costco, which is when a shopper purchases products for you at a slight markup.
Neighborhood launched early 2020. They deliver to: Biyun, Lujiazui, and Lianyang; and Puxi, Qiantan, Zhangjiang, Kangqiao, and Tangzhen. What makes Neighborhood different from the other daigou services that probably exist is that they have an English version.
We tested it out.
Here's How You Use Neighborhood
Neighborhood uses a third-party service, which means you can't simply search it up on Qun Jie Long and find it. To find it, either get a friend to forward you their store or scan this QR code.
In Shanghai, Neighborhood delivers by the region with the exception of remote areas (of which Baoshan, Fengxian, Jinshan, Lingang, and Chuansha fall under). Tap into whichever one you happen to fall under. There’s a Chinese and English version of each.
The first thing that greets you is a fairly comprehensive introduction into how Neighborhood operates. They deliver three times a week, orders cut off at 9.30pm the night before, meat and seafood are weighed products, yadda yadda yadda.
Important note: they only process issues reported the same day as delivery.
Scroll down, and you’ll see the products come up. Sections are split into Discount, Snacks, Kirkland, Frozen, Drinks, Sweets, Deli, Seasonings, Fruits/Nut, Vegetables, Dairy, Health, Household, Pets, and Others. Some items end up in the wrong section, but for the most part everything’s pretty accurate. Cheese, for instance, somehow ends up in four different sections. “Other” includes everything from AirPods to ironing boards to markers to contact lenses.
Here, you add items to your cart in the same way you would with most online stores. When you proceed to payment — tap the green bar on the bottom — they’ll ask for your name, phone number, and address. Neighborhood accepts WeChat Pay and Alipay.
Something particularly irritating about Qun Jie Long is that they publicize the contents of your order, first initial, and order number (I was #4142). There’s no way around this, but you can anonymize yourself when the mini-program asks to connect your WeChat account. If you select the additional option of 啊白, you log in as WeChat’s version of anonymous. There are a lot of 啊白s.
I ordered midnight after a Tuesday, and my order arrived Friday. It’s slow compared to Hema, but it’s good enough as an independent service.
Unfortunately, my order of bagels did not come with my delivery. Sad, because I was looking forward to my bagels.
I messaged their support box in English and was refunded the price of the missing bagels less than three hours later. They replied that the bagels were out of stock when they bought my order. It’s a hassle that this process wasn’t automatic; I had to ask for it, and Neighborhood says that they only deal with delivery issues reported the same day as delivery.
As for the order — I included a Beef Roll for 20.8rmb to see if Costco’s fresh food is actually decent daigou'ed. It comes expectedly cold but was alright. The fruits weren't bruised and frozen food was insulated and delivered with ice packs.
Unlike Taobao or Ele.me, Qun Jie Long doesn’t track your order. You just have to trust your delivery will come and be delightfully surprised when it does.
The Qun Jie Long mini-program itself isn’t the smoothest thing in existence, occasionally freezing up with tabs disappearing and then reappearing. It’s not Neighborhood’s fault, but it does make using the service more frustrating. Still, it saves you from a trip to middle-of-nowhere Qingpu.
So there you go. Costco delivered to your door. Modern life!