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Mobile Laundry Services Bringing the Laundry Room to Remote Areas

by Clean India Journal Editor
0 comment

Remote and underserved areas require access to clean and fresh laundry services. A transformative solution to serve this burning need is through the emergence of mobile laundry services. This development alleviates the challenges faced by individuals and communities residing in far-flung areas by providing a mobile and accessible solution to cater to their laundry needs. Clean India Journal spoke to experts who have ventured and expanded into this unknown space and sought details on the nitty-gritty of offering laundry services in remote areas in India.

Arunabh Sinha, Founder and CEO of UClean, feels that the driving force behind the proliferation of retail brands across non-metro cities of India is the aspiration to experience similar services and products that their counterpart metro cities are currently using across laundries.

Traditionally, in smaller towns and villages, laundry is seldom outsourced, due to multiple factors that created mental and physical barriers. These are:

•     Time: most women were homemakers and washing clothes was considered their responsibility

•     Shame: People consciously avoided outsourcing dirty clothes.

•     Cost: The notion that laundry equals dry cleaning, limited people to using this service only for expensive clothing worn during weddings and occasions. Laundry outsourcing was deemed pricey

•     Infrastructure: Laundries require a continuous supply of water and electricity. A majority of towns and villages in India were grappling with issues like power cuts and irregular water supply. This made the laundry business both unviable and unlucrative

•     Geography: The geographical locations of small towns in India make it challenging to transport heavy machinery required for the smooth operations of a laundromat

Some laundry chains like UClean feel that the greatest hurdle to expanding business at various locations is the fear of the unknown.

Efforts are needed to develop the entire ecosystem for laundry service to thrive and survive in these remote locations.

However, this is easier said than done. For a country, where the language constantly changes over a short geographical space, it is impossible to build a template and replicate the same across the length and breadth of the country. A few learnings from past:

•     India is a country of shopkeepers and once you find the right family to partner with, the entire country seems easily accessible

•     No one understands a neighborhood better than the micro-entrepreneur. If a partnership is struck with a micro-entrepreneur who hails from the same small town where the start-up is likely to be located, then the chances of the laundry venture becoming successful are manifold

•     Customization in terms of services offered: dry-cleaning or laundry market, special garments requiring special care and training, and suitable pricing. An example of special care training involves handling expensive and sentimental items like “Mekhala Chaador” from Assam which cannot be handled similarly to a regular bedsheet

•     Brand building is tricky but “rickshaw marketing” in small towns has worked well

Overall, the involvement of an enterprising microentrepreneur is paramount for the success of remote town laundries.

Gaurav Nigam, Founder & Director, Tumbledry opines that the dynamics in smaller towns may differ from larger cities but the basic needs of the inhabitants do not change much. This is because laundry is a basic need irrespective of the place. Hence, laundry service is relevant in small cities too. Unlike other household chores like cooking or cleaning, washing clothes is not exactly a hobby! Herein lies the requirement for good laundry services. Since special garments are already sent for dry cleaning routinely, the spending capacity of these services does not come into question.

People residing in remote areas have already displayed their interest in services that bring convenience into their lives. The steady rise and use of e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart is sheer proof of this development. It is a clear sign that they will outsource laundry too if given a choice.

Remote areas can have access to collection centers in adjoining cities to ensure that all customers receive good dry cleaning services irrespective of their locations. High demand and a large customer base in remote areas hold promise for mobile services with appropriate infrastructure and ecosystems are possible.

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