Laundry.com.mm, a BOD tech start-up operating from Nawaday Street, is aiming to overhaul the Yangon laundry industry by providing unmatched quality and the convenience of door-to-to delivery.
Laundry.com.mm is a new service that partners professional laundry with a convenient door-to-door delivery system. Customers can order pickup through a mobile app or online. The cleaning itself takes place at Shine Laundry, which has been providing high quality service to Yangon for decades. The agents, all fresh graduates, have received introductory training at Shine and the Shine professionals have more than 20 years’ experience in some cases, so your clothes are in safe hands.
When I placed my order with Laundry.com.mm, they rang me back within 10 minutes to confirm the pickup time. The agents were careful to separate dry cleaning and normal washes into separate bags, and provide a detailed receipt for payment on delivery. I was able to amend my order and delivery time with no extra hassle and, surprisingly for Yangon, was given a printed invoice after paying cash on delivery.
Cleaning fees are the same as those charged for walk-in customers at any Shine franchise. The extra cost of delivery is calculated by relative distance to the Nawaday Street Hub, where all orders are brought for distribution to Shine. Delivery costs vary from 3000 Kyat for townships around Bahan, to 6000 Kyat for the outskirts such as Thanlyin. Although this may seem like a large toll, it should be compared to the opportunity cost of the hours it would take to hand deliver the clothes yourself.
Laundry.com.mm is the brainchild of Sai Lin, a mechanical engineer repat who returns from Singapore, and Mike Than Tun Win, the founder of BOD Tech and flymya.com. Sai, who was educated in Singapore as a mechanical engineer, runs the everyday operations of Laudry.com.mm. Like many well educated, young repatriates he sees great opportunity in using technology to disrupt traditional business in Yangon by making everyday services more efficient and consumer friendly.
Traditionally, laundries follow a predictable pattern of growth and decline, they start off with a single location before franchising out if they provide good service. Eventually they cannot expand further as demand is not enough to justify the large fixed costs. Service quality then falls along with customer numbers as existing infrastructure stretches, to the point where laundry services begin to team up with convenience stores to provide an all in one location for users. Technology changes this by allowing customers to link directly with a centralised delivery service that not only provides convenience for consumers by removing geographic boundaries but also allows existing brick and mortar laundries to operate at higher capacity.
Yangon is growing rapidly in the importance placed on new technology; mobile phone adoption rates are above 85% in Yangon, 80% of mobile phones are data enabled smart-technology. The young, urban population are willing to entrust more of their lives to their devices as well as being increasingly time poor as employment levels rise. Mike sees laundry.com.mm as an effective way to leverage the door-to-door economy that will transform business in Yangon over the next few years. As much as technology is improving in Yangon, the physical infrastructure has been pushed to the limit. Traffic, especially around downtown is disgusting. Gridlocks and aggressive bus drivers are just some of the reasons why Yangon’s roads are to be avoided, unfortunately this is likely to get much worse soon with the opening of Junction City. Customers will pay a premium to avoid having to deal with visiting physical stores. Businesses are also looking for a centralised system to reach customers as exorbitant rents are preventing successful businesses, like Shine, from expanding into new locations.
Mike has already enjoyed some success in this business with food delivery company Yangon Door2Door and online travel platform Flymya. He has a passion to aid the growth of grassroots entrepreneurship, which he views as vital to the growth of Myanmar as it was for China following the economic reforms.
Like all companies operating with BOD Tech, customer service is central to the business model. It is clear from the app and website that this is a service primarily targeted at the expat community in Yangon, the growing Yangon middle class . A big challenge for Laundry.com.mm is building trust within the community. Word of mouth is going to drive the growth of Laundry.com.mm so providing reliable, convenient service is make-or-break, especially in the early days. However, as the laundry work itself is carried out by Shine which has many established outlets, Laundry.com.mm will be able to scale very quickly, once the team grows. Laundry.com.mm take full responsibility of the clothing and will deal directly with complaints.
Laundry.com.mm is likely to face strong competition from French multinational 5aSec, which has recently opened its first branch in Yangon. 5aSec has locations in over 30 countries and it’s international reputation is likely to appeal to the expat community, however Laundry.com.mm is positioned to better service the downtown area and provide the convenience of delivery which is the direction the market is moving. Although, 5aSec provide their own training and equipment, which is without doubt very high quality, they may not have the same level of experience dealing with the local garments as Shine, providing peace of mind to local customers especially with silk longyis. Laundry.com.mm provides a great service to make life much easier for the people of Yangon who are beginning to realise that their time is valuable, and is likely to become a more favourable alternative as traffic continues to worsen.
Author: David Harrod
David has a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from the University of Melbourne. The above article is part of a research project on the disruption of the mobile internet on life in Yangon that David was involved in as part of his internship at Consult-Myanmar Co Ltd in Yangon.