Also on the rider trapped in the system: the enterprise values behind is the key to solve the problem

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Article / ant worm
Source: ant (ID: miniant CN)
Even the characters didn’t expect that the article “the rider taking away, trapped in the system” (hereinafter referred to as “the rider”) on September 8, had such a huge impact. On the day of release, it successfully broke the circle and swiped the screen, and climbing to the top was the hottest topic. Internet hotspots tend to come and go quickly, but this time it has been rare for several days, and it is still hot.
According to the riders’ employment report for the first half of 2020 by meituan, the total number of riders reaches 2.952 million, while the number of riders shown on the official website of “hungry hummingbird” is 3 million, with a total of about 6 million. According to this calculation, only about four out of 1000 Chinese are takeaway riders.
No matter the quantity or proportion, the takeout riders are not large enough to make the article “Rider” so widely spread. It is the huge group of takeaway users that drives the circle breaking communication. In 2019, the number of domestic users will reach 400 million, which will support the market scale of 660 billion yuan.
01 intelligent system makes riders run faster and more dangerous
One of the most impressive words in the article “Rider” is to race against death, compete with traffic police and make friends with red light
I believe that countless people are shocked by this sentence. Sitting in the office or at home, users understand the hard work of riders, but few people understand their true state. Many users even think that riders send their own orders every time. However, this is not realistic. If only one order is sent each time, it will take nearly 24 hours according to the 28 minute standard of meituan.
Takeout platforms have long understood this truth. They have developed a “real-time intelligent distribution system” (meituan’s “Super Brain” and hungry “Ark”) to continuously optimize the process and route through high-tech means such as big data, artificial intelligence, and deep learning, so as to distribute orders more scientifically and efficiently.
The intelligent system plays an important role in improving efficiency. The time limit of meituan’s 3-kilometer meal delivery distance has been gradually reduced from 1 hour in 2016 to 28 minutes. In 2017, a technical article of meituan was pleased to announce that for orders that used to require five riders, now four riders can. The algorithm optimization improves the rider’s ability to receive orders. Meituan system can even send 12 orders to one rider at most, approaching the overload state. When we urge the order, the rider may receive the urging from multiple users at the same time; however, these orders are within the similar time limit, so the pressure can be imagined.
At the same time, the assessment standards of the platform for riders are increasingly strict. There are three most important indicators for meituan riders: one is the 5-point praise that is often heard; the other two indicators are punctuality rate and order receiving rate. The punctuality rate is related to the unit price of delivery. Every time the punctuality rate drops by one percentage point, the rider will be deducted hundreds of yuan per month. And the low order receiving rate will be punished by the system, and even will not send orders and affect the livelihood. Unless they quit, the riders have no choice but to take orders and deliver them.
With the time limit getting shorter and the assessment more and more strict, riders can only do everything possible to speed up, including running the red light, retrograde, congestion, speeding, disorderly parking and other illegal behaviors. Shanghai Songjiang rider admits that retrograde can save 5 minutes of precious time, so he will retrograde almost every order.
The frequent occurrence of riders’ violation of rules and regulations can lead to congestion and confusion, or even traffic accidents, resulting in property losses and casualties. In July 2018, Chengdu investigated and dealt with nearly 10000 illegal takeaway riders, 196 accidents and 155 casualties, with an average of 1 rider casualty per day. In September 2018, Guangzhou investigated and dealt with nearly 2000 traffic violations of takeaway riders, half of which were meituan. The cases of rider’s death or pedestrian collision due to violation of regulations have been frequently reported in the news. Taking out rider, seems to be one of the most dangerous professions.
Takeaway riders, rain or shine
02 dilemma: low unit price must go, low threshold and fierce competition
It should be admitted that the pay of takeaway riders is mostly higher than the average of the average level, which belongs to the upper middle level. Unlike banks, oil and other high wage monopoly industries, few people are unhappy with the high income of riders. As we all know, their high income is obtained through the hard work of high intensity and long working hours.
Gao Zhixiao, a delivery boy of meituan, who appeared on time magazine, once said in an interview that he worked more than 12 hours a day as a rider for several years, and usually had to go offline from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. Gao Zhixiao is not an example, but the normal of many professional riders. It means long delivery time and low delivery time.
In recent years, even if there is no subsidy, the delivery fee has remained low or even decreased. In May last year, an article disclosed that after October 2018, shortly after the listing of meituan, the unit price of distribution fee of meituan riders began to decline slightly. After 2019, there will be a large decline, even the ultra-low price of only 7 yuan for 5 km.
At that time, some analysts thought that this was probably the action taken by meituan under the pressure of profit after it was listed, because its operating profit in 2018 was – 11.1 billion yuan, and it was heavily burdened. In 2019, the operating profit of meituan will become + 2.7 billion yuan. In addition to the decrease of average cost caused by the expansion of scale economy, the continuous reduction of distribution fee also contributes a lot.
As the unit price of distribution keeps falling, the only choice for riders to maintain a higher income is Dora trot. But the overall wage level of riders has declined this year. On the one hand, under the influence of the epidemic situation, the takeout market once declined year on year, but fortunately, the number of orders resumed to grow again; on the other hand, the number of riders increased significantly, which reduced the average order volume.
The threshold for riders to join is very low. Take meituan as an example. As long as you are healthy and aged between 18 and 50, you can apply for a smart phone and a battery car. With the impact of black swans, many people have flocked to the takeout industry as riders.

On May 20 this year, the meituan report showed that after the outbreak of the epidemic, the number of new riders earning income on its platform exceeded 950000. According to the data disclosed by hungry people, 1.2 million riders were added during the epidemic period, and nearly 3 people became public servants. “They don’t worry about no one running, you don’t do it, some people do it.”
In such a large team of riders, most of them lack other professional skills and are not easy to change careers. Even if unit prices and orders fall, they will continue to stay in the system as long as the income is not lower than the local average.
03 system has no values, but it can reflect enterprise values
The root of all this can be traced back to the rules and systems of the platform. In the face of external inquiries, takeout platforms often attribute the responsibility to the system. For example, the response of the meituan this time, although it made a high-profile apology, stressed that “the problems of the system need to be solved by the people behind the system”. In fact, it is not my fault. It is all the fault of the system.
Zhihu netizens labeled “Uncle takeout” scoff at meituan’s system. He thinks that meituan’s payment is more reasonable in 2018. Now, two years later, the system is getting worse and worse. He denounced all kinds of “mistakes” in meituan’s system: riders use electric vehicles as a means of transportation, but walk as a way of navigation; the distance marked by a straight line is impossible in reality; the unit price of delivery is linked with the rate of punctuality and praise, but the priority of order distribution only depends on the rejection rate.
In response, meituan said that it would delay the rider for 8 minutes, which was also revealed by him. This is an existing rule in the system. Meituan has exposed two problems: one is that the service standard claimed by meituan is not true and there is a suspicion of false propaganda; the other is that it almost deceives the public by taking the existing rules as the future solution.
The platform has the absolute right to speak on the system rules, while the number of riders related to interests is large but excluded. Judging from the dishonest attitude of meituan’s response, even if the system is optimized, the rider’s opinions may be difficult to adopt.
At present, people (riders) are regarded as tools in the algorithm of delivery platform system, and efficiency, experience and cost are the core indicators pursued by the platform. The icy big data has become the cornerstone of improving efficiency and reducing costs. Riders must adapt to the “best” process and path of algorithm planning, so as to provide more and more efficient meal delivery experience for users.
Of course, the platform is not without humanized highlights. For example, if you’re hungry, the system has a reporting function. At that time, when nearly riders arrive downstairs or wait for the elevator, they can report in the system first, so that the order will not be considered as overtime. Are you hungry? The riders really approve of the design.
Are you hungry? Recently, we also said that we will add an option with a delay of 5 minutes to give the choice to the user. If the design is reasonable, it can be regarded as a personal design.
Only, this kind of humanized design is too few.
Many argue that the system has no values. The system is not a human being. It is impossible to have values. But the people who make the system should be human, and the rules of the platform can reflect the values of the designer and the company. At present, the rules of takeout platform reflect the wild growth of Taylor system management thought, which must be corrected.
Chaplin’s interpretation of the existence of the little man under the Taylor system
In addition to the 04 system, the platform needs more “human nature”
In recent years, the word “good technology” has gradually become known. After experiencing rapid and savage growth, domestic Internet enterprises began to reflect. Behind this is the demand for enterprise values, which needs to be developed from the good.
Enterprises should not only respect users, but also partners and employees, in order to create greater social value. The takeout platform should not only pay attention to user experience and improve service efficiency, but also fully respect riders and protect their rights and interests.
The idea of Taylor system management has been abandoned in advanced countries. People realize that technological progress is to improve people’s happiness index, not to make people become slaves of technology. Similarly, the rules of the platform are not tools to squeeze riders, but should be good helpers for riders to improve efficiency. After the article “Rider” came out, netizens have come up with suggestions for the takeout platform, including some feasible humanized suggestions.
For example: hierarchical pricing, the order delivery fee with short time limit will be higher, while the longer time limit will be cheaper. Through the price lever, the order will be screened and divided to reduce the distribution intensity in peak period. Another example is to appropriately reduce the number of riders receiving orders at the same time, to force the riders to be offline when their working hours exceed their physical standards, and to ensure the health and safety of riders by technical means. What the riders are calling for is that they hope that the system will send orders after the meal is served, so as to save unnecessary waiting time.
Of course, riders don’t necessarily want orders to fall, and consumers don’t necessarily want delivery fees to rise. But it is true that, in addition to the system, the takeout platform has a lot of humanized optimization space. It’s a good trend, but it’s not enough. The takeout platform should return the right to know and participate to riders and users. This is the first step for the takeaway platform.
Enterprises should be good, and human nature is more needed outside the system. Please don’t worry about the problem of riders?
(statement: This article only represents the author’s point of view, not Sina’s position.)