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Will You Catch the On-Demand Wave?

Two out of five dry cleaners polled say apps are the future

CHICAGO — Do you see on-demand business as the wave of the future for dry cleaners?

“It will definitely increase,” answers a dry cleaner in response to the latest American Drycleaner Your Views survey. “Not sure about 90% but it will definitely be something you have to offer or you will miss out.”

Roughly 40% of the dry cleaners who responded to that survey question answered ‘yes,’ they thought on-demand business is the wave of the future. One cleaner opines: “Yes, it will kill the drop store business.”

A little more than one-quarter of dry cleaners surveyed (26.3%) say they offer a website or mobile app that customers can use to order/schedule drycleaning pickup and delivery. Slightly more than one-third (35.7%) of those who don’t offer on-demand drycleaning services say they are considering doing so.

Of those who offer on-demand services, about half (45.8%) say their drycleaning business has grown from use of the on-demand technology. And of those who have a website or app, 38.9% developed their own service while the remaining 61.1% used an outside company.

Wave of the future, you say? Another dry cleaner in the survey says: “Possibly, but I am very wary of the efficiency/costs of providing this service as dry cleaners historically have never charged for delivery.”

Yet another states: “45% of our business is scheduled pickup and delivery (P/D). I don’t see on-demand P/D as being very efficient, unless you can blend it into the existing route system. We still require minimums for route service. That won't likely change.”

Survey comments from dry cleaners show there’s a divide in opinions. While one dry cleaner states that it is a “positive trend, making it convenient,” another indicates that “on-demand is tough for a dry cleaner that is trying to efficiently manage routes. I think most frequent users of dry cleaning (the customers we all want) are happy with a routine of once or twice a week … and on-demand is not as important. The young tech-savvy crowd is more suited to on-demand and as they grow into their 30s and 40s, it will be more of an issue.”

The availability of on-demand service is “positive, yes, but in our experience, customers still prefer coming into our stores,” one cleaner points out.

The American Drycleaner Your Views survey is a snapshot of the trade audience’s views and should not be considered scientific. Qualified subscribers to American Drycleaner e-mails are invited to participate in a survey they can complete anonymously online.

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Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].