by Edward Relf, CEO of Laundrapp
The dry cleaning industry reached its peak in the 1980s and then plateaued, however, the 21st century is transforming the way we do laundry. Edward Relf, CEO of Laundrapp, discusses the future of the laundry industry and why he thinks washing machines in the home may soon be a thing of the past.
Why the washing machine in the home will be a thing of the past?
The reality now consists of a fast-paced, modern lifestyle which results in a ‘time-poor’ society. Longer working days and an increasing number of people working multiple jobs means that there is less time in the day. As a result, people are increasingly outsourcing daily tasks – from cooking meals to household chores – for their requirements to be fulfilled fast, if not instantly. A study published in the journal PNAS, which sampled over 6,000 individuals in four different countries, found that people who felt time-poor and spent money on a time-saving purchases were more satisfied with life than those who spent money on a material purchase – regardless of their income and career.
The growing number of people prioritising time over money and outsourcing tedious, time-consuming tasks has fuelled innovation and driven the emergence of an on-demand economy – which isn’t set to slow down anytime soon. On the contrary, it has caused disruption in many traditional industries such as laundry, cleaning, transportation, beauty and shopping. According to the National Technology Readiness Survey, the on-demand industry has scaled to an impressive $57 billion in 2015, and The Harvard Business Review reported that the industry attracts more than 22.4 million consumers annually.
In the past, people had to trek from their house to the laundromat with a laundry basket in tow and coins in their pocket. Fast-forward a few decades and on-demand services, such as Laundrapp, exist to offer an attractive alternative. With just three taps on a smartphone, a driver is summoned to pick-up dirty laundry from your doorstep and drop it back off when it’s done – much more convenient than the three to five hours per week it would take for someone to complete the laundry themselves. While changing the habit and mind set of owning and using a personal washing machine may take longer than a week, month or year, it is possible, and the rise of services like Laundrapp signal the start of this transformation.
The smartphone – the remote control for our lives
Gone are the days that phones were used primarily for calls and texts. Smartphones have seeded themselves into every part of our lives and, to an extent, have become a remote control for our daily routines. Research from Google has showed that Brits download more than 250 million apps a month, and the app market in the UK is expected to be worth nearly £31 billion by 2025 – a drastic increase from £4 billion last year. The future will see the creation of more apps to take care of all household chores with the push of a few buttons on the smartphone. On-demand laundry services have already tapped into this shift to create a ‘remote control’ for personal laundry.
Personal voice assistants – the rise of smart laundry
Personal voice assistants were once a thing of science fiction and are now the future of a modern household. As virtual assistants become more proficient and accessible, soon enough they will become mainstream devices for managing all of our household tasks. Companies that optimise their services for these devices are ones that will stay ahead. For example, Amazon Echo has joined forces with brands such as Fitbit, National Rail and Just Eat in a move to modernise services with voice command capabilities. In the household sector, Laundrapp has taken the lead by launching the world’s first voice-activated laundry service so if the laundry basket is full, just ask Amazon Echo or Alexa to order a Laundrapp collection.
The dry cleaning industry has been steady for the past few decades, but shifting consumer needs are fuelling innovation and transforming the sector. In essence, transformation is a new and improved ways of doing things, and as people are increasingly appreciating the benefits offered by the outsourcing model, less and less people will opt for the traditional washing machine – instead, they’ll prioritise convenience and choose make the most of the technology that’s on their doorstep, waiting to pick up their dirty washing.