Sherpa's couriers prepare to deliver food. (Photo/Courtesy of Sherpa's)
China's food delivery industry is booming, and the competition is increasing as more companies get into the sector to try to get a piece of the pie. However, one company stands out in serving the expat community in Beijing and Shanghai. It is called Sherpa's.
Named after the ethnic group whose people would often act as porters for mountain climbers on the Himalayas through all kinds of weather, Sherpa's was established 18 years ago and has since made a name for itself within the sector, especially among foreigners and the high-end market in China.
With its tremendous momentum, pervasiveness and omnipotence, Sherpa's is easily one of the top 10 essential daily services for foreigners living in Beijing and Shanghai.
About 18 years ago, Mark Secchia, an American MBA student at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), found that foreigners living in Shanghai, like himself, had a difficulty finding places to eat out. Dining out for them was regarded as an "adventure," largely because of the difficulty they faced communicating in the Chinese language.
After conducting a market survey over six months, Secchia started a takeaway company with the name Sherpa's, which also served as his internship project contributing to his degree at CEIBS.
From the beginning, the company was aimed at rendering service to the high-end market and foreigners in China. During the 18 years that followed, the company has made unremitting efforts and constantly upgraded its services. From having customers order by phone in the beginning to the current online to offline (O2O) pattern with Internet and app services, Sherpa's has established itself as the leading brand in the high-end takeaway industry. It is committed to delivering hundreds of delicious food, featuring the flavors of Shanghai, Beijing and Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, to the foreigners and high-end consumers in those areas.
When Sherpa's was founded in 1999, the takeaway market in China was almost nonexistent. A pioneer of the takeaway service industry, Sherpa's has overcome numerous challenges to be the strong brand it is today, including standing on the streets heavily frequented by foreigners and handing out printed menus in English.
From the outset, the couriers rode their bikes to deliver meals, with a wooden box on their back. They were regarded as the earliest "takeaway riders" in Shanghai.
At that time, there was no uniform. Every courier wore a Western-style baseball cap. With this unique sign, the foreigners in Shanghai soon got familiar with the couriers. The uniforms did not come until later. The earliest employees still remember that the first set of Sherpa's uniforms were handmade by a courier's mother.
In 2005, Sherpa's expanded its dispatch business from the city center to Pudong and Hongqiao districts in Shanghai. In 2007, it beat a new path to Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, and in 2012, it expanded its business to Beijing.
Sherpa's has always been committed to upgrading its user experience and adheres to the principle of "less but nice." It also holds the restaurants it partners with to a higher standard and ensures that their food safety level is high before entering into a cooperation with them. The selected restaurants Sherpa's partners with are usually popular among local consumers and offer food that is rich in categories ranging from Chinese meals to exotic flavors. To ensure that everyone can communicate freely, Sherpa's also provides bilingual ordering services.
Thanks to its unrelenting efforts over the past 18 years, Sherpa's has won widespread praise among the foreign and high-end consumer community in Shanghai, Beijing and Suzhou.