How WeClean simplifying lives of urban Indians with its digital laundry services
The company uses tech to provide a seamless and convenient experience for customers, from booking an order to tracking its progress to receiving it back at their doorstep
WeClean is a digital laundry startup that offers a wide range of services, including laundry, dry cleaning, shoe and bag spa, and upholstery cleaning. The company uses technology to provide a seamless and convenient experience for customers, from booking an order to tracking its progress to receiving it back at their doorstep. In this interview with Bizz Buzz, Rishi Rathod, CEO and Founder, WeClean discusses the laundry industry in India, the challenges and opportunities that WeClean faces, and the company's plans for the future
Tell us about WeClean's and its vision and mission
WeClean is India’s digital first cloud laundry startup. It operates out of a 6000 sq ft space in Parel, Mumbai. WeClean currently offers a wide range of laundry, dry clean, shoes, bags, linens, and upholstery cleaning services in Mumbai, and has the capacity to process and store up to 11,000 items each day. The company manages end-to-end services using state-of-the-art machinery, imported solvents and trained professionals without any outsourcing and with complete in-house quality control.
WeClean has also launched an advanced mobile application that enables customers to book and track orders, engage with its customer support team, and make seamless online payments.
The company aims to transform the traditionally unorganized ($2.5 billion) retail laundry industry into a technology-driven, professionally managed sector, using its ‘CAQTS’ approach of convenience, affordability, quality, transparency and speedy service. WeClean’s mission is to be India’s most trusted and reliable laundry partner that offer great quality service with complete transparency.
How is the D2C segment in laundry revamping the space and how long will it take to replace the traditional brick-and-mortar and dhobi services? Can both co-exist?
Technology is becoming all pervasive in modern business, and in every sector, the future will be all about digital D2C operations. E-commerce is thriving and almost all services are being delivered through online platforms. WeClean believes that the laundry industry is also ripe for technology disruption. However, the essence of India is always about many India’s co-existing with each other. Having said that, the aim of digital first and D2C businesses is to use technology to improve productivity, customer experience and service delivery standards in traditionally unorganized industries.
Recently the company raised Rs 5 crores, how will this investment be utilized into building a robust infrastructure?
We will use the fund to strengthen our teams in customer support, marketing, logistics and laundry operations; to keep evolving WeClean’s end-to-end technology solution; look at testing other viable avenues / channels for distribution and digital marketing spend to increase awareness and penetration amongst WeClean’s target audience
What is your market expansion plans over the next 5 years?
WeClean’s vision is to create a first of a kind digital laundry founded on the premise of fulfilling the laundry needs for over a 100 million Indians across the country in an organised and seamless manner. We wish to expand into metro cities in North, South and Central India. But most of all, we wish to be India’s most trusted and reliable laundry partner, that offers great quality service with complete transparency.
Any trends within the laundry space that you would like to highlight?
A lot of the traditional laundries are going through an inflection point, where the next generation is not interested in taking the brick-and-mortar laundry business ahead and are engaged in other professions either in another city or outside India. The laundry industry has traditionally not seen any consolidation, like other industries like hospitality. The online laundry space in India is on a growth curve, as we have seen an influx of online laundry players and aggregators, on the supply side.
How is tech innovation revamping the laundry segment?
Today’s modern customers are extremely conscious of their fashion choices and use of exquisite fabrics in their dresses. They are keen to hand over the care of such garments to only those laundries which are trustworthy. Customers not only need utmost safety, hygiene, and cleanliness of clothes, but also want to adhere to timelines, and the ability to track transactions.
Conventionally, it is common to see a delivery promised for Wednesday arriving on Friday. Quite often, customers find a piece of cloth missing or not dry cleaned or ironed appropriately. Manual tracking, documenting and record-keeping of orders and deliveries are not only error-prone, but also not in sync with new age technology enabled businesses. Errors can happen all through the value chain of the garment, for e.g., typically garments are given to drivers or house helps who take them to a laundry store, from where they are transported to processing centers. This makes the process prone to errors at each stage that the garment changes hands. Technology plays a big role in both areas, customer experience of booking, tracking, and managing of their laundry requirements and the operational and logistics management technology for an end-to-end service delivery.
What do your consumer expansion plans look like today?
Our goal is to simplify the lives of our customers, going beyond mere traditional laundry services and by early 2025 we aim to onboard over 1 million customers across urban India. Our focus is going to also be on the under-penetrated market like Shoes and Bag Spa services. They are season inelastic, unlike dry cleaning and laundry services. Our consumer expansion strategy will be focused on upper middle class, who are currently users of other digital first services or products across other industries.
Do share insights into your future business projects
WeClean’s focus for the next two years is to expand its base of customer and adoption of first of its kind digital first laundry service. This would need a gradual change in customer behaviour and a deep consumer insight into the decision making of an Indian family for its laundry requirements. Insights into the industry and how WeClean is disrupting the sector
As of now, the Indian market is dominated by three models of laundry services:
Single unit/micro laundries (dhobi setups): Typically have a single store catering to 1-2 pin codes, partly outsources work to others, with a workforce of less than 20 people.
Professional laundries: Caters from physical stores in multiple locations, with a workforce of over 20 people overall.
Aggregator platforms: Mostly startups, aiming to run asset-light operations, providing only pick and drop facility with customer support, outsource laundry process to vendors, and may have more or less than 20 delivery executives.
WeClean aims to transform the traditionally unorganized ($2.5 billion) retail laundry industry into a technology-driven, professionally managed sector, using its ‘CAQTS’ approach of convenience, affordability, quality, transparency and speedy service. WeClean has also launched an advanced mobile application that enables customers to book and track orders, engage with its customer support team, and make seamless online payments
Why Digital laundries are the need of the hour for Urban India
In the modern day, where husband & wife both are working towards their careers in metro cities, the demand for laundry services is gradually increasing too. Young families are accustomed to eCommerce and Quick Commerce purchases. They want to be in control of their purchases, with respect to price transparency, tracking, customization, digital payments, and quick delivery. Digital First Laundries are therefore ripe for disruption at this stage.
We strongly believe that with the ecommerce wave in Tier 2 and Tier 3, there has been a change in the spending habits. Many people love or have a sense of attachment towards their clothes, shoes, bags and even upholstery, but lack the time for its maintenance. People are starting to choose convenience and quality more than other factors. There is a gradual shift in consumer behaviour towards usage of branded and D2C Laundry services.
Can Digi laundries become a reality in India?
Digital laundries who take accountability for the final quality of the cleaning services that they offer, along with a seamless end-to-end consumer technology experience, will be the ones that will stand apart and make digital laundries a reality in India.
In recent years, India has witnessed several app-based laundry services or those in the form of digital aggregators. While some of these players have managed to bring in a certain level of professional accountability and streamlining, they still do not have adequate control over the quality and consistency of operations. The reason is integration of third-party service providers which limits a platform’s role to merely a facilitator. WeClean prides itself on being in control of the entire value chain from app-based booking to delivery of the product at the doorstep of the customer. At the same time, taking complete ownership of the entire cleaning services across garments, shoes, bags, upholstery etc.
What is a digital laundry service & why is the new-age Indian consumer warming up to the concept? What makes a laundry digital?
For a customer: A booking/scheduling platform, communication with the team, order tracking and online payment.
For a rider: A platform where an executive gets details about the pickups and drops, creates orders and receives payments.
For WeClean: Tracking items at every stage, order and bill generation, quality checks, internal and external communication, and history of all orders.
WeClean customers will only place the order, right from counting at pickup to delivery every step will be digitally updated. Everything will be transparent and traceable.
Young Indian consumers are accustomed to e-commerce and quick commerce purchases. They want to be in control of their purchases, with respect to price transparency, tracking, customization, digital payments, and quick delivery. Digital first laundries are therefore ripe for disruption at this stage.