Date
23 March 2017
Spiderman is an O2O logistics operation in China that delivers anything to college students, from groceries to laundry. Photo: internet
Spiderman is an O2O logistics operation in China that delivers anything to college students, from groceries to laundry. Photo: internet

Are O2O apps making our lives better or worse?

A new generation of internet startups targeted at mainland college students is pushing the boundary of the O2O (online to offline) concept to the limit.

“Other than attending classes, I have not left the dormitory for a week,” a Year 3 student surnamed Xu told the Beijing Evening News.

“We have not cleaned the place for nearly a month,” his roommate says.

What makes their otaku lifestyle possible is the mushrooming of O2O services that take care of almost every aspect of life.

One of the leading platforms, Zhaime — which calls itself the convenience store in your bedroom — pledges to fill an online order for anything from breakfast to snacks within half an hour.

There are also apps with which students can get someone to pick up the laundry or clean up the room.

Striving to make the online experience perfect, these apps often enable users to complete the transaction on the phone in 10-20 seconds.

In just five minutes, Xu is all set.

“Lunch will arrive in an hour, and then the laundry people will come three hours later,” he said.

“I have also ordered some tissue and fruit. The domestic helper will take care of the room this evening.”

“Life is just so convenient, thanks to O2O.”

These services are supposed to save students time for study, like during the exam period, or to save them from the trouble of going outdoors during bad weather.

But now students are patronizing these sites just because the convenience is hard to resist.

Not everyone, however, is excited about the phenomenal success of O2O.

The downside is that students are not interacting with people in daily life properly, to the detriment of their social skills, some critics said.

Students are also getting lazy, as they rely too much on others and are not learning to take care of themselves, they said.

Ironically, the students probably spend much of the time they save on yet another round of video games on the smartphone.

– Contact us at english@hkej.com

FL

EJ Insight writer

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