Takeaway stationmaster, the “repairman” in the system

Systems and algorithms were created not to create difficulties for riders. In fact, the riders are convinced of the system’s instructions precisely because they are usually effective and accurate. However, the system was criticized because the rider crashed at the time when the rider needed correct instructions the most.This is a technical bug.


A few days ago, an article in “People” titled “Takeaway Rider, Stuck in the System” was screened. The dilemma caused by the takeaway platform to the takeaway rider caused heated discussion. The “rider” also got on Weibo for two days. Search. After the article was published, quickly responded, saying that it would launch a “willing to wait another 5 minutes” button. Meituan then stated that the system would allow 8 minutes of flexible time for riders. Meituan acknowledged the technical limitations of the algorithm, which of course is not a problem faced by its family.

The take-out platforms are all outside the system scheduling, leaving a back door for manual scheduling-as long as there is a place covered by take-out riders, there will be a centralized site, and the webmaster is the site manager.

In fact, before the smart dispatch system was developed in 2017, the webmaster was the brain most familiar with the entire area.

Now, the webmaster, like the rider, is deeply embedded in the entire food delivery system. They are connected to the system and the rider, and correct errors when there is a problem with the machine scheduling. “The stationmaster does the job of a maintenance worker and a maintenance worker,” Liu Haili told “E-commerce Online.” He became a rider in 2015, was promoted to a stationmaster, and is now the regional leader in charge of 3 stations.

“People” quoted a webmaster in the screen-sweeping report that the webmaster was not to save the rider’s power, but to “excavate the potential and speed of each rider to the maximum.”

With this quote alone, it would be too sloppy to simply assign the webmaster to the role of the capital and the huge machine. In an interview with “e-commerce online”, we found that the webmaster is not a squeezer. Many of them have achieved the position of the webmaster from the rider, knowing the difficulties of the rider, and have feelings about where they come from.

There are also webmasters who start from the simple emotion that a team should help each other, “a team must help each other.”

To be more straightforward, the interests of the stationmaster and the rider are almost the same. The assessment indicators they carry can reflect this-one of the assessment criteria is “rider retention rate.” This means that to maximize the value of the rider, even if it is the starting point of the station master, but in more cases, they need to consider the interests of the rider, and even assume the role of a comforter, persuading riders who want to “hope” to stay .

Whether it is the flexible scheduling of the system, or the active or passive care of the riders, the webmaster is the most “human” part of the entire takeaway system.

Webmaster’s day

From 11 to 12:30 noon every day, it is the peak time for lunch, and it is also the busiest time for riders and station masters.

The eyes of the station leader Zhang Tao and the dispatcher inside the station have not left the computer screen for a single moment-there is a map of the area on it, and the riders turned into dots and drove in different directions. In just 1.5 hours, he needed to keep an eye on the delivery status of more than 900 takeaway orders at the site.

Under normal circumstances, the system will automatically send orders to the riders. However, once it is found that the route is not smooth, the order imbalance between the rider and the rider must be manually scheduled by him.

Long-term command in front of a computer makes Zhang Tao different from ordinary people’s understanding of the route. In his eyes, the route is a plane and an angle. “A rider, if the 5 orders received are distributed in an area with a 15-degree angle, is it better to deliver than an order at a 60-degree angle?”

The webmaster must stay in front of the computer. Commanders who coordinate from a global perspective do not need to end the battle, but they do not have a moment of freedom. “If you go out and send 50 orders by yourself, and other people don’t have a reasonable schedule, isn’t this a run for nothing,” Zhang Tao said.

There are many emergencies. A certain merchant eats food too slowly, which has constrained the delivery staff of multiple sites, and the webmaster needs to sell some face to remind the merchant. In the event of a traffic accident, the station master must also support and coordinate the rider from the rear.

During peak lunch hours, impatient customers will always click the reminder button. The reminder tone sounds both in the rider’s headset and in the station. When a serious order breaks, the mechanical female voices may even overlap.

Near one o’clock, the reminder tone gradually disappeared, but the system prompts sounded frequently, but this time it became “A rider requested a break, please handle it in time”, “A rider initiates a break, please handle it in time.” Zhang Tao again To process these applications, you must also make sure to leave enough staff to dispatch the next orders.

22-year-old Zhang Tao is the youngest webmaster in the entire area. Two years ago, in order to live more freely, he changed from a construction truck driver to a takeaway brother, and then grew from a team leader with two or three people to a station leader with 70 riders. In more than a year as a rider, Zhang Tao did not have a bad review.

It is not easy to manage a 70-person medium-sized site. Zhang Tao gains trust and authority through the experience of imparting “zero negative reviews” by other riders.

The other webmaster Wang Jian is more like a service-oriented manager.

Before the age of 38, Wang Jian tried various small businesses, and gained the ability to deal with all kinds of people in society. At the end of 2015, his business was so weak that he decided to take out food to solve his life. At that time, the industry was just emerging, and the biggest requirement for webmasters was to have crowd cohesion. After being a rider for 3 months, he was promoted to stationmaster.

In addition to scheduling during lunch and dinner rush hours, Wang Jian also held a mobilization meeting for the riders during the rest of the time to help the riders solve trivial matters such as arrears in telephone bills, no money to eat, and a broken car.

After the evening peak is over, he will complete a day’s replay, and after dinner, he will go to chat with some riders as a daily cohesion.

How much is the penalty?

Uniting the delivery staff is one of the most important tasks for the webmaster that Wang Jian understands. He claimed that the stationmaster is the patriarch of the takeaway, “Lazard will take care of everything.”

This attitude is based on the consideration of the site’s delivery staff retention rate, as well as his own understanding of the delivery staff. He feels that takeaways come from different backgrounds. Takeaways are even the first jobs of many people in the city. The stationmaster is their little leader and the only person they can rely on.

However, using “parents” to describe the relationship between the webmaster and the delivery staff may seem too intimate. There must also be rules and punishment systems, which are related to the operation of the entire site and the income of the site owner.

For the courier, he stipulated that the overtime delivery fee is halved, and 50-200 yuan is deducted for bad reviews and complaints.

This is already the lightest punishment. He gave an example. Some webmasters fined the money, which was too vicious. The worst day could be fined up to 500. For complaints and early delivery, the fine was 200 yuan.

This is also the reason why Wang Jian does not look down on many “airborne station masters” nowadays. “Nowadays, many college students have not run takeaways after graduation, so they just come to be the stationmaster. They only go to give tasks, but they don’t know that the rider runs out on a single order every day, and you are fined for this or that fine. People are here to make money. It’s not for fines all day long.”

As an old webmaster with 4 years of experience, he started as a takeaway and believes in understanding and tolerance after practice. “We really think that timeout is too normal. There are many orders or weather problems. For newcomers, In fact, it is almost inevitable.”

Many webmasters have shown great tolerance to newcomers, although sometimes this tolerance is due to “retention rate” considerations. If a rider’s order encounters a compensation situation, most sites will help to bear half of the compensation. If a new rider has a problem, the site is likely to pay for it in full.

Fines and payment limits are a power that the webmaster holds in his hands, and it is also a part that can be transferred. The webmaster’s understanding of the delivery staff determines the difference in the penalty rules for delivery staff and constitutes the final human space between the delivery staff and the system.

From loose to strict

The walls of almost every site are covered with rules and event posters. These rules are often detailed to the number of attendance days per month, the number of orders per day, and the subsidies that riders receive from each order.


The punishment system is also very clear. Overtime rate, bad review rate, complaint rate, and abnormal cancellation rate constitute the four dimensions of the evaluation. Each item can only be qualified if it is controlled at 1-2%. This means that for every 100 orders sent by a dedicated rider, there is only 1 error tolerance space.

The salary of the rider is directly linked to the order volume and the evaluation. Their assessment also affects the income of the webmaster. If the rider can pass the assessment, the platform will give the site a reward of 0.5-1 yuan/order, and the site manager will take 10% of all rewards. For example, a site can send 30,000 orders without bad reviews every month, and the site manager can get 3,000 yuan in commission in addition to the basic salary. If it is not completed, the site needs to pay a fine to the platform.

This kind of benefit is tied together, so that the station master will lead the old rider to help the new rider. Among the takeaway riders, there is often a traditional mentorship. A new rider will always be taken by an old rider to get to know the business and nearby communities. The old rider in charge will teach the newcomer how to navigate and even teach him how to communicate with an angry customer. But the benefits of binding sometimes make poorly performing riders a “target” for other riders.

The strict regulations and perfect evaluation system were only available in the past two years.


(The site will be filled with various rules posters)

Riders who joined the company before 2018 have felt this change. Before 2018, “there are few riders and the platform is very loose. We can leave as soon as the meal is delivered,” Zhang Tao said.

At that time, the competition among multiple food delivery platforms had evolved from the competition between Meituan,, and Baidu Waimai to an even more intense rivalry between the two parties. In April 2018, after Ali acquired for US$9.5 billion, the takeaway track was a battle between the two giants.

Faster delivery times, larger delivery areas, and the need to wear more tidy knight uniforms (and more eye-catching helmet accessories) can all become promotional points for takeaway platforms and help them capture a larger market share.

The problem is not “fast” at all, but too much fluctuation between peaks and valleys

The premise of solving all problems is to find a consensus.

A food delivery system requires the participation of four parties: users, riders, merchants, and platforms.

These four roles do not have their own interests, as many media have said. Their goals are actually very consistent and fast.

Platforms and merchants hope to have more orders. The former creates a demand for “get everything fast”, hoping to gain a larger market share in commercial competition, but it also raises user expectations. Users want to eat hot meals in the shortest possible time. In fact, riders prefer to run fast and send as many orders as possible in a day.

But the contradiction that this consensus cannot be reached is that the order volume in the food delivery industry fluctuates too much.

Even if he has been in the food delivery industry for 5 years, the peak period of food delivery often brings Liu Haili a sense of powerlessness. Noon orders account for 60% to 70% of the whole day, and the remaining 30% of orders come from the afternoon and evening. 1,000 orders for a site must be compressed to 1.5 hours and all sent out. “At this time, we can only rely on people to stack them,” he said.

In order to cope with the influx of orders during peak hours, hiring more people is the most direct way. In order to ensure the user experience, takeaway platforms also suggest that the site recruit more people.

But the most direct impact on hiring people is the income of riders. “The rider is to make money. He works 10-12 hours a day. After a busy period at noon, there is nothing in the afternoon. He can only earn more than 100 or 200 yuan that day.” Liu Haili said.

Webmasters need to consider more. How to balance the peak and trough periods of manpower so that orders during peak periods cannot be overtime and capacity during idle periods cannot be left idle. This is a difficult math problem.

“We can alleviate the distribution pressure by doubling the capacity, but in that case, the cost of employment is too high.” Liu Haili said that the delivery fee for a part-time rider is 1 yuan higher than that of a full-time rider. To a certain extent, the rider’s bursting caused by the tight capacity is also a consideration of interests after weighing.

“If the order is more even and the takeaway riders are relaxed, we can do it too.”

How to make takeaway orders more even?

If a platform only does takeaway, there will always be peaks and valleys, but if the platform merges non-takeaway orders, the riders’ order peaks and valleys may be smoothed.

In fact, many big companies are already doing such a solution. On July 10, announced a comprehensive upgrade, from the food delivery platform to a “life service platform that solves all immediate needs around users”. Meituan did it earlier. The Meituan flash sale launched in 2018 is known as the “E-commerce platform where everything gets home in 30 minutes.”

To put it bluntly, these food delivery platforms from “delivering food” to “delivering everything” are merging similar items of resources, maximizing the allocation of capacity, and making the “busy noon and idle afternoon” situation more reasonable.

Individuals in a huge system will appear vulnerable. Observe the contradictions with a magnifying glass, and all the oppositions become tense. Making the algorithm slower, acknowledging technical limitations and improving is one direction. But acknowledging the value of the system and using another business approach to solve business problems may be a better solution. Business is not cruel, and technology is not the original sin.