KumaWash: From O2O to value-chain integration
Translated by 半月
In the second half of the forum “How is Taiwan’s O2O doing”, Lawrence, co-founder of KumaWash, talked about his stories.
“At the time, I was talking with KumaWash’s partner Frank. He wanted to start a laundry store. ‘Think about it. If we succeed, we will never have to wash our clothes!’ I said, oh my god, I’m in!”
Saving time for more important things
As written on KumaWash’s website : How much time do you want to spend on washing clothes after your work? We provide easier, better and more convenient experience for people longing for a better life. You deserve more time enjoying your life!
KumaWash aims at helping clients with this unavoidable chore. People can make reservation online. KumaWash comes to people’s place picking up the clothes and bring them back after 24 hours, day or night. They provide “Washes, Dries, and Irons” for customers, charging by Bags of clothes. Customers can decide if they need extra service (e.g. ironing) besides washing.
KumaWash charges customers by bags. They have different bags for winter and summer. Nonetheless, KumaWash accepts bags with any amount of cloths. It is kind of like coin-operated washing machine in the old days. Of course, they pay by App now. Lawrence has seen a bag of as few as 3 pieces and as many as 100 pieces of clothes (It Is TRUE). Their key is the amount of time that clients can save.
“Washing your clothes is an unavoidable part of your life. Think about it. Many people get home from work after ten. Clothes are difficult to dry because it’s humid all year round. Clothes washing is time consuming and brings no value nor sense of healing. If you go to laundry store, you have to CARRY them to the store and wait in line. Even worse, you are not sure when was the last time they cleaned their machine.”
Do you get sunshine on your balcony? In Taipei, a 10 m2 balcony costs 0.7 to 0.8 million NT dollars. To dry your clothes by hanging them on the balcony, you actually need to pay more than you think. Lawrence’s dream is that one day balcony can be the place for beers and sunshine. “I haven’t washed my clothes for 7 months now. Until today, we have invested 10 million NT dollars. If you ask me what makes a person qualified for this game? I would say you need to be stupid and crazy enough.”
“When I propose to my girlfriend in the future, I will say ‘marry me, and you will never have to worry about clothes washing.’”Said Lawrence. Crazy, right?
Invest for the brand
“At first, we wanted to create a platform. But just go to laundry service providers and tell them “I can bring you customer!”, that’s not how it roll. First of all, we had nothing at the beginning, no customers, nothing. People thought we are scamming. Second, traditional suppliers focus on dry-cleaning. That is not our target. We aim to help clients with their daily chores.”
Thus, KumaWash did everything from the beginning. They provide the service themselves. They did washing, and washing only. Lawrence considered this an important decision for KumaWash. It made their business simpler and more professional. 1/3 of their money was invest on creating the production line. They made their own washing machine, their own factory and even scooters.
“Our target is people who go back home late from work. It is important to pay attention to details, make clients feel the convenience. If we can let them feel warm, they will trust us. This is very important when we are trying to build our own brand.”
Building trust is not that easy. For example, how punctual can you be? KumaWash promises 3 things: open the KumaWash App and make an order, give your clothes to logistics company in 30 minutes and take your clothes back at the time you set. Some people use KumaWash for clothes they wear for work. They use this service because they BELIEVE that KumaWash can make it on time. In addition, every wash bag has a unique ID number and is dedicated to only one client. Clients need to sign on a sealing tag when the bag leaves their house, making sure that the bag is not opened before arriving KumaWash’s factory. In KumaWash store, everything is videotaped. Our workers inspect for special conditions of clothes, protecting both the customers and KumaWash employees.
“Why are we washing clothes 3 times slower than standard washing machines? We use different detergents or even hand-wash for different materials of clothes. Clothes of deep colors, light colors or special materials are handled separately. Clothes need both detergent and enough space in the washing machine to be cleaned. It’s not the more detergent the better.” This is professional knowledge and the basis of their brand. “I hope that when you think of laundry, the first thing that comes to your mind is KumaWash.”
From O2O to value-chain integration
Lawrence did not put much emphasis on the concept of O2O. For him, O2O is one step of value-chain integration. “We only see the term O2O in Taiwan and mainland China. Why? Because the digitalization of conventional industries did not grow rapidly until the past two years. In the narrow sense, O2O means ordering online. However, it can be any of your buying behavior which doesn’t happen right in front of you, like mail order or calling for taxi. I think O2O is temporary term, which is related to redefining the way resources are connected, allocated and distributed. What we need to do is to apply what we learned in another domain.”
Lawrence consider KumaWash a “software company trying to improve people’s life.” It is not a Internet company because Internet is everywhere now.
“The key is value-chain integration. KumaWash may go on and provide service for everything in the bathroom. For example, we can give clean towels to VIPs, making them feel like living in a hotel. It is really important to provide services that we ourselves would want as well.
The Last mile is critical. “We insist on providing smiling professionals in KumaWash uniform who can answer your questions regarding cloth washing while collecting your wash bags. This cannot be replaced by logistics companies, which makes us stand out.”
中文版連結Cover photo: PanX