The On-Demand or ‘UberForX’ model has its way into the laundry industry over the last 5 years or so. This is a global phenomenon, with the on-demand model surging through into every industry possible. Its introduction into the Laundry vertical shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the fact that a 2014 survey estimated that 87% of American adults use the internet (Pew Research Center Survey), and it is safe to assume that the majority of them use clothes!
In addition, the Laundry Industry is no joke. In the year 2014-15, 30,000 companies within the industry served 30 million people and made more than 10 billion dollars! Out of these thirty-thousand companies, 70% are retail laundry and dry cleaning services, while 30% were coin-operated laundry outlets. However, the otherwise steady laundry industry is seeing a period of disruption. On-demand start-ups with ‘UberForLaundry’ models have made huge investments in this vertical. For instance, Cleanly, Washio, Edaixi and Laundrapp received $2.3 million, $16.8mn, $123.2mn and $5.9mn in funding respectively. This disruption of the Laundry vertical is indicative of avenues of accelerated growth for online laundry and cleaning services.
‘UberForLaundry’ start-ups are disrupting the conventional laundry industry and hacking growth of this vertical
So what is creating this vacuum for this vertical climb of online Laundry start-ups? Take the words of the CEO of Starchup – Nick Chapleau – for instance: “we knew there were thousands of excellent laundry and dry-cleaning operators out there in the market who have been doing it for years, might not be able to build a mobile app or might not have that kind of technological ability, but can certainly clean your clothes better than anybody else.”
There are many challenges for on-demand Laundry models. The most common ones are first, the need to hire huge numbers of people and second, the need for huge capital investments and infrastructure costs. However, both these problems have been circumnavigated innovatively by start-ups, by hiring freelancers for the first, and resorting to an aggregation model for the second. It is no surprise that Washio serves a widespread customer base without owing a single watershed area! However, the biggest challenge in the pursuit the laundry vertical, as nuanced even from Chapleau’s words, is technological.
It is in the Technological dimension that on-demand Laundry start-ups are building their advantage as opposed to capital or infrastructure
If you’re someone who owns a laundry and dry-cleaning service or wish to enter the Laundry Aggregation market without owning washing areas yourself, an online and on-demand system is imperative in this atmosphere of disruption. This is where Tookan can be of great help!
What Can Tookan do for your Laundry Business?
Tookan is a powerful, software-as-a-service platform which can provide your Laundry business with the necessary software infrastructure to manage a mobile workforce, streamline pickups and deliveries of clothes and manage timely appointments to your clients. Moreover, Tookan specializes in weeding-out common sources of inefficiency both in management and in pickup-delivery operations on the ground. It facilitates the transition of your business into a highly optimized on-demand digital space.
The two most common models of on-demand Laundry are On Demand – On Site and Marketplace (Aggregation Model).
The first model applies if you already own a Laundry service and a workforce to manage both washing and pickup-deliveries. The second model is akin to the start-ups previously discussed in this article. If you wish to turn an app into a marketplace by connecting customers to different laundry services without owning one yourself. Regardless of which model you wish to operate in, Tookan can provide flexible and business-specific features to manage a comprehensive on-demand Laundry business. As an on-demand Laundry business owner, you’re likely to face several challenges, many of which are peculiar to the Laundry vertical:
Logistical Errors: In the business which involve pick-ups and deliveries, the most common sources of error are always logistical. This is because logistical errors arise from issues which are often hard to predict and factor into day-to-day management. Problems like unavailability of the customer at the time of pick-up or delivery, inability of the workforce agent to find the customer’s location, etc. are unprecedented, but avoidable challenges. With timely notifications to the customer on dispatch and delivery of clothes on the customer app and the provision of all the required information, including maps and instructions, for the agent to make the pick-up/delivery on the agent’s app, these problems can be overcome.
Last-Mile Challenges: Last-Mile challenges refer to the inefficiencies in the final leg of the supply chain, that is, the final step between your business and the customer in the pick-up/delivery of clothes. It is as front-end as it gets! The last-mile is the trickiest part of the supply chain and in an on-demand laundry service, it constitutes half of the work in the On Demand – On Site model and virtually the majority of the work for the Marketplace Model. Sources of inefficiency at this step are inefficient routes, wastage of time and fuel costs on small deliveries, etc. With Tookan’s Route Optimization algorithms, you can ensure that your agents complete the highest possible number of deliveries in the least amount of time. Further, the algorithm can ensure that the least amount of fuel is burnt by computing variables like driver availability, location proximity, delivery windows, traffic conditions, local regulations, order load, weight capacity, etc.
Managing an on-the-ground Workforce: For efficient management of a fleet of delivery agents and customers, the owner/manager has to practically play god as far as day-to-day operations are concerned. The task of managing a live workforce, spread out throughout the area is nothing short of playing god. With the BIRD’s EYE VIEW feature, which is a map-based, real-time interface, you can literally watch and manage all operations from atop the clouds, as they unfold on your screen.
Meeting Customer Expectations in the Backend: Maintaining a loyal customer base is imperative in running a successful laundry business. Clothes are particularly dear to customers. Regardless of whether you wash the clothes at your own location or delegate it to another provider, the customer expects the highest quality of cleanliness and will not hesitate to change his/her laundry service provider. In a laundry business, the actual washing takes place in the backend and very often with a huge volume of work at any given time. Thus, it becomes increasingly hard to check quality control. With Customer Relationship Management (CRM), you can measure your customers’ level of satisfaction, improve operations based on reviews and manage relationships with your customers.
Auto-Management of Orders: Especially in the Marketplace model, managing a huge volume of pick-ups/deliveries from all over the place can be hard to manage. As a laundry service owner, on the other hand, you may be receiving task from various sources – Website, email, laundry aggregation platforms, etc. Tookan has various features which manage all the intricacies of order management. You can auto-assign pickups and deliveries to your field agents based on distance, batch, availability, direction, etc. Tookan will also arrange all your pending and upcoming orders as they come, from multiple platforms and from multiple customers!
Insights for Growth: With Analytics, you can gain valuable insights from detailed metrics and make smarter decisions as your business grows!
Automate Payment: Tookan can also manage your payment flows, whether they are on the customer side interface or as Cash on Delivery (COD).
Taking your laundry business online will present new challenges before you, owing mostly to the need for large-scale technological and logistical support. Tookan is designed to deal precisely with these demands of the online space. Instead of wasting precious time and resources on organizing and managing your workforce and your operations, you can leave it to Tookan. It features a wide array of features, all of which have not been exhausted in this article.