The power of the app17 May 2017
The way we do business is changing rapidly and the advent of the app offers an innovative way to engage with customers and lure much sought after Millenials to spend their cleaning budget at your establishment. Kathy Bowry reports
Brendan Duffy from drycleaners Acorns of Lancashire, when speaking at the recent Guild of Cleaners and Launderers conference, illustrated the power of new media by citing the example of the posts about the loss of a 150 year old wedding dress lost by an Edinburgh dry cleaner that rivaled bigly the incidents of President Trump on well established apps, Twitter and Facebook.
Duffy told delegates that by using social media owners can target current and potential customers by location, age, gender, language, demographics, interests, behaviours - which includes digital devices/number of credit cards and so on. “You can also set by budgets, by day or stated maximum amount,” he said.
Acorn ran an advertisement campaign of its own over three weeks in August and September last year involving a video message focused on wedding dresses, which reached 18,600 individuals, resulting in post engagements of 4,651 clicks. Cost? A mere £49, and resulted in 20 wedding dresses to clean, six wedding dress boxes sold, and an increase in Acorn’s ‘Likes’ and 5 Star reviews on Facebook.
Moving on to dedicated textile services apps, the ones making the most noise in the industry are Laundrapp, which bases itself on Uber and Ocado, according to its chief operating officer, and The Drycleaner App. Both connect you with a local drycleaner or laundry but they have completely different operating models.
The Drycleaner App’s Jonathan O’Connor tells LCN the app connects the customer and a local garment care professional when they need dry cleaning, laundry, ironing, or shoe repairs. “The provider will pick garments up from home or office and then return to wherever is convenient. Each provider comes with reviews and star ratings, ensuring that the provider you choose is trusted and respectable.
“Customers receive full flexibility throughout their entire Dry Cleaner App experience. Whether its queries or a need to amend the order, contact details are provided so there is direct communication with the provider. This removes the need for intermediaries and connects customers directly to their local or nearest cleaners. The Dry Cleaner App offers a service unlike any other and is on iOS or Android devices.”
O’Brien says: “The Dry Cleaner App saves time, removing the hassle of taking time out of the day to travel all the way to a dry cleaner, perhaps in busy rush hour traffic. Instead, with The Dry Cleaner App, local dry cleaners will collect clothes, dry or wet clean them and deliver them back.”
He believes the trend for apps in the industry will continue to evolve saying: “Several on-demand laundry and drycleaning apps are now available throughout the UK and Ireland and more are being launched in most countries across the globe. Technology is changing businesses small and big from taxis to takeaways and now it is drycleaners. Consumers continue to use their mobiles for all sorts of services and this is what will drive growth for businesses over the next number of years. The many garment care professionals with whom I speak with regularly are interested in implementing apps and using them to generate and service a wide new customer audience. The impact of apps has proved to be of great interest to the industry and the importance of having a presence on mobile is very well understood by UK garment care professionals.” Version 2.0 of The Dry Cleaner App is being released this month.
Jack de Montaignac, chief operating officer at Laundrapp says his app business now has 40 vans in the London area, but with no actual processing of its own – it is all farmed out to participating businesses – and all this has been done in just two years. He has experience of the textile care business having previously owned a wedding dress cleaning service, and he also owned Moss Bros at one stage. He explains: “The essence of Laundrapp is to capture the ‘instant on demand market’, following the success of Uber and Just Eat, and is about convenience and bringing this to the laundry and dry cleaning business. “Time is a precious commodity for people, especially in cities, and it is all about satisfying the demand for service and ensuring that it is easy as well as convenient for the customer.”
Laundrapp founders held a belief that the industry was archaic in its outlook and from a new perspective wanted to bring in new ideas, open new markets, and digitise the business. “Most people in this country have a washing machine but they are now the target market for Laundrapp and the business is growing, giving customers their time back. Laundrapp is trying to change customer behaviour by taking on the laundry service and getting them to throw out their washing machines.” He further explained that there are no longer as many suits being worn as in previous years but there are other markets that can be exploited to bring in additional revenue and to bring in a younger audience who so far have not been Laundrapp’s traditional customer. He challenged operators to think about the 25 to 35 year old age group, always active on their i-pads and smart phones interacting with each other. “These are our customers of tomorrow,” says Montaignac. “These are the so called millennial group and it is important to get to this group because they are our customers of tomorrow but we needed to serve the 40+ group who are our customers of today.”
Currently the web is where the company gains 20% of its new orders, but after a long period of drilling down into what works and what doesn’t, and constantly reviewing what they were doing it seems business has proved to come in via many forms of media and changes throughout the working day, starting with orders over the smart phone from people on their way to work to the web during the day when people were at their computers and laptops.
“Leaflet marketing has a bad reputation,” he remarks, “but it has a long tail and can be beneficial over a longer period of time. Laundrapp has facilitated the cleaning of over one and half million items in London and the business is still growing, although we have slowed down the business model because we want to pass on to new partners enough business to justify the collection and delivery arrangements.”
There are currently two offerings, one where Laundrapp does the collection and delivery, for example in London, but other regions it is the partner, the cleaner, who is expected to carry out this function.