Local lifestyle services have become a popular frontier where internet companies in China are jostling for a bigger slice of the action.
Tencent-backed Meituan.com, a group-buying website offering both local lifestyle and travel consumer services, launched a new App called “Meituan Maicai” in January to add grocery shopping and delivery to its business portfolio.
Alibaba’s affiliate Alipay followed suit and upgraded from a payment tool to a comprehensive digital lifestyle service platform. Another Alibaba business unit Ele.me, a platform that offers online food delivery services, has added leisure activities, cosmetics and beauty services into its portfolio.
Chinese video sharing Apps TikTok and Kwai have also joined the fray and offered local services.
At first, the sizeable user traffic of TikTok and Kwai attracted Meituan and Ctrip, which is a domestic arm of the Trip.com Group, to initiate cooperation, and TikTok has enabled exclusive external hyperlinks for Meituan and Trip.com on its merchant homepage.
However, the two video sharing platforms are more interested in carving out their own niche in the territory rather than being merely a traffic portal. As a result, both TikTok and Kwai have started their own engines to offer lifestyle booking services.
Local media outlet Tech Planet reported that the “Ticket Booking”, “Hotel Booking” and other functions that are the core business of Trip.com, are now available within TikTok’s own verified merchant account page, enabling a complete consumer journey from inspiration to transaction.
TikTok’s domestic rival Kwai has also launched “Local Lifestyle Services” on its homepage, offering services such as cuisine and short-distance tours.
Boasting 400 million and 300 million daily active users respectively, TikTok and Kwai will no doubt intensify the on-going fierce competition in the local lifestyle services market.
For now, neither TikTok nor Kwai has breached the core business territory of Meituan and Trip.com. They are still feeling their way forward, as building a mature commerce chain is a lot more sophisticated than just activating a few more online functions, despite the seemingly close correlation between offering video content to enticing purchases.
Both TikTok or Kwai are speeding towards the commercialization of lifestyle services, while Meituan and Trip.com are barricading their market shares. It remains to be seen if the newcomers would prevail or if the old hands are too strong to beat.