[box type=”shadow” ]From watercourses to industry grade laundries, we have come a long way in the way clothes are processed. The onset of ‘Dry Cleaning’ came around the mid-18th century when the potential for petroleumbased solvents was recognised. Today we are a long way from washboard and wooden beetles and history is witness that every service industry, especially the Laundry and Dry-Cleaning Industry, has always been driven by the demand of the time.[/box]
With the changing trends in consumer behaviour, the industry has always had to adapt itself. People who entered this industry in the last three decades have seen the dry-cleaning industry transform from a luxury to a utility and hence have sailed the favourable winds, until now. However, in the last few years, businesses have not been able to enjoy the same growth due to number of reasons. This again is the result of changing demand.
There has been a shift in consumer behavior and at a pace at which the dry cleaning and laundry industry has not been able to keep up with. The industry is still trying to catch up with the demands of today’s customer. The factors contributing to this demand could be the following:
● Increase in the Purchasing Power Parity: There has been a dramatic increase in the purchasing power of the consumers in the last five years. Hence, they are ready to spend more for a better and more luxurious experience.
● Busier Lives: As dramatically as the money increased, the time available reduced in the same manner. To cut short, today’s consumer just cannot fit a visit to the dry cleaners in his busy schedule.
● Proclivity for better experience: Today’s customer satisfaction depends on what they gain from the consumption of a product or a service. The dry cleaning industry is still evolving in customer satisfaction.
● Preferred medium of communication: The advent of smartphones has completely turned around the communication preferences of the consumers. We live in an era where inapp notifications are preferable to calls and people want maximum functionality with minimum interaction.
● Inclination to convenience: The Ubers and Amazons of the world have pampered the consumer with simplistic convenience. Everything is available at the tap of a button on the mobile phone screens at any time and at any place. Their entire service is served on a platter right into their applications.
These consumers form the Customer 2.0 which have their preferences. The market today has to gear up to meet Customer 2.0 and its demands. Customers are not the only reason that has been pushing the boundaries of Dry Cleaning and Laundry business. Any business environment consists of numerous factors which hugely affect the business and beyond control. Factors like-
● Lack of skilled labour: Most of the dry cleaners are dependent on skilled labour from rural areas of UP, Bihar development initiatives by the government, the labourers are getting enough opportunities in the native places and there has been a severe decline in availability of skilled labour. I get calls from almost entire India where people are looking for skilled labour.
● Increase in overall costs – New tax regimes, increase in minimum wages laws and the overall input costs are not being matched with the corresponding increase in dry cleaning services. Due to this, the overall profitability is being hit.
At present, the dry cleaning and laundry industry is being affected by numerous changing factors and is at the cusp of an evolution.
Over the last eight years, having observed the dry cleaning and laundry industry closely, the results of the professional analysis are not very promising. We are in dire need of a transformation.
The only way to survive and flourish in today’s dynamic scenario is to be dynamic. In an era where consumer behaviour drives change and the consumer wants to buy When he wants, What he wants and from Wherever he wants, the industry needs to gear up to an On-Demand Economy.
Even if we consider the top 10 cities of India and just the upper tier of working professionals which constitutes just 30% of the overall working professionals, the potential target market is worth $9-10 billion. Just imagine the endless possibilities that an on-demand business model has. All of that potential just sitting there. Untapped. Just waiting to be grabbed up by someone.
To make sure that the Dry Cleaning & Laundry Industry keeps growing at a flourishing pace, we have to be open to new methods of doing business. This can be achieved by incorporating the latest technologies into our business and keeping up with the trends of the market.
On-Demand is the future of Dry Cleaning and Laundry Business. With today’s tools and technology, on-demand business does not require heavy investments. The ondemand business model offers customers superior service, maintain excellent customer relations, and provide them with effective and convenient home pickup and delivery services leading to business expansion, increase in brand value, payment transparency and efficient business management.
Rachit Ahuja Co-founder of Quick Dry-Cleaning Software