Xiao Yu, the owner of a Nanjing sandwich restaurant has a bittersweet feeling about food delivery services, an industry that feeds or creates jobs for millions of Chinese. The longer he uses delivery platforms like Meituan and Eleme, the more bitter his sentiment becomes. 

Yu, who asked to be identified by his nickname, understood that cheap, quick food—sandwiches with chicken, pork, omelets, or salad—would rely mostly on delivery orders, at lower margins than dine-in. But even so, he was surprised how hard it’s been to make ends meet. “The number of food delivery orders is generally three or four times that of dine-in orders, but the profit margin is far lower,” he told TechNode.

As merchants’ dependence on food delivery increases along with the popularity of the service, it has become more and more difficult for vendors like Yu to make a living, despite the ever-increasing number of orders.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.