Dianping, the leading ratings and review site and major player in Chinese group-buying, had 190 million monthly active users as of the end of 2014.

The mobile app has 200 million accumulated users. Of the 12 billion monthly page views, 85% are from mobile.

There are over 12 million local businesses on the platform in roughly 2300 cities in China and about 100 countries and regions. 

Reviews totalled 60 million, with the company hoping the number will surpass Yelp’s in the first half of 2015.

Gross merchandise volume in group-buying grew over 200% and the number of participating merchants increased five-fold.

Headquartered in Shanghai, Dianping has set up branches in 150 Chinese cities. Headcount doubled in 2014, reaching 7,500 as compared to 3,700 a year ago.

A performance-based marketing product for merchants was launched in the fourth quarter of 2014. The company had seen meaningful revenue generated within three months of launch.

Dianping also added travel listings in early 2014, providing hotel booking information and services related to overseas travels. It covers about 500,000 hotels in 350 Chinese cities and the rest of the world.

“Online Reservation” has been widely adopted by users in the first- and second-tier cities. More than 30,000 merchants have signed up, three times the number of early 2014.

A team was established in the fourth quarter to serve Chinese travellers overseas. Dianping now covers about 200 major tourist cities overseas.

The company estimates the total market for lifestyle merchants on platforms like Dianping is RMB5000 billion (roughly US$800bn) and will double in ten years. It believes that only 2% of transactions were completed online or via mobile in 2014, but that over 50% of the transactions will be through mobile in ten years.

Dianping and Meituan have become direct competitors in the group-buying sector. But the founders of both companies have concluded that group-buying can’t continue as a sound business model.

Zhang Tao, Dianping founder and CEO, pointed out that deep discounted group-buying deals can’t comprise the majority of offline merchants’ sales, and saying that Dianping can get involved in merchants’ regular sales with reward programs or other services. Dianping doesn’t want its major revenue source be transaction-based but marketing. About 60% of its total revenues are from advertising and other services and the rest from transaction fees.

Wang Xing, founder and CEO of Meituan, sees the future of his company as an online marketing platform for offline businesses. It’s unknown whether Meituan is happy about the fact that its revenues come primarily from transaction-based commissions.

Their marginally different strategies are likely related to their financial performances. Gross merchandise volume on Meituan reached RMB6 billion (roughly US$1bn) in December 2014 while in November Dianping’s was one third of that, RMB2 billion. Meituan claimed to have over 60% market share as of the end of 2014.

Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com

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