Image credit: 36kr

In three short years, e-commerce platform Pinduoduo surpassed RMB 100 billion in gross merchandise volume based on the popularity of its group discounts. Recently, 36kr reports, food-delivery giant Meituan Dianping launched a very similar offering into the WeChat mini-program ecosystem, seeming to challenge the relative newcomer.

The new in-program feature “好货拼团” (quality goods group deals), as well as a separate mini-program called “美团拼团” (Meituan group deals), are currently accessible on a limited basis nationwide. As a Meituan mini-program employee told 36kr, the feature is still being tested on a small scale in select cities. It is not yet available in Meituan’s own app.

The super-platform reportedly began cooperating with WeChat shopping platform Youzan this past September in order to develop the new feature.

Similar to Pinduoduo, Meituan’s new group-buying options cover a wide range of goods, from beauty products to daily necessities to fresh fruit. By purchasing a product in tandem with other online users, customers can receive significant discounts. Currently, some 200 products are featured in the new mini-program and feature.

As its name implies, Meituan’s services were originally centered around e-commerce group deals. However, as time passed the company moved away from its Groupon-like approach, expanding into a “super-platform” with a multitude of services. Its remaining discounts became primarily for food and drink, often advertised based on a user’s location: “附近拼团” (nearby group deals) rather than more typical e-commerce offerings.

One Meituan employee told 36kr that the new e-commerce push isn’t a major priority for the company. Rather, it’s part of a plan to grow its already extensive ecosystem, which covers not only food delivery and discounts but also hotel bookings, movie tickets, household services, new retail, and more.

Meituan Dianping had previously even hoped to enter the ride-hailing business, although it put those plans on hold after Didi’s crisis and its own impending IPO. Since its late September debut on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the company has seen its value soar, making a multi-billionaire out of its founder, Wang Xing.

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.

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