Home services industry - latest trend, app culture, and challenges

9th Aug 2015
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Every once in a while, we get into a pickle where we have to get something at our home taken care of, be it burned out electrical wires, a clogged kitchen sink, creaking or broken furniture, faulty electronic appliances, inefficient air conditioner or refrigerator, pest problem, and whatnot.

The list goes on. And to fix these problems, we need a reliable professional; someone who’s not only skilled and knowledgeable but also reliable and trustworthy, and doesn’t cost us a fortune. Most people may be able to do some of the repair works themselves but for others they require expert intervention. The recent splurge in home services industry aims at addressing this problem at large faced by homeowners.

service-industry

The idea of booking services on smartphone and web, however, is not new. In India, online service booking models started taking off with the advent of 3G connectivity and mobile broadband. Industries like e-commerce, fashion and retail played a big role in mainstreaming online transactions while unique and innovative business models such as Uber led to the emergence of numerous mobile-based companies.

Today, consumers are resorting to avail all kinds of lifestyle services from shopping, to food delivery, to cab booking and more right from their smartphone. Industries such as e-commerce and retail, food delivery, cabs, banking etc. took off in the wake of this fundamental change in consumer behavior. And now, the home services industry is looking to tap into this great opportunity.

User trend

The on-demand home services industry seems to be quite popular among the millennial generation evidently due to the fact that they are the largest consumers of Internet services.

The millennial generation makes up for more than 80 percent of the users who book these services online. They are also people who expect reliability and professionalism from their service providers. It becomes a very easy transition for people who have previously used apps like Uber, Foodpanda or similar lifestyle apps to use these services as well.

Role of lifestyle apps in building today’s app culture

App adoption among consumers has paved the way for a range of other industries such as banking & finance, insurance, healthcare, and travel etc. to get closer to their consumers through mobile apps.

For example, five years ago, people were quite reluctant to use credit cards for online payments. Smartphones and mobile broadband services were in their nascent stages, at least in urban India. Not a lot of people were using apps. People wanted to physically examine the products before buying them. But the explosion of smartphone and mobile broadband in the last couple of years has led to the emergence of consumer-facing e-commerce websites, which resulted in a greater push towards the mobile environment.

Eventually, people started using apps – not just for products but also for services. So, mobile ecosystem development and user acceptance has played a huge role in building the app culture that we live in today.

Challenges

One of the greatest challenges for the home services industry as a whole is the pricing model. There is no standard pricing of home services. Moreover, it’s really difficult to partner with service professionals and providers on our platform where they share a common pricing model. There’s a lot of research and planning that goes behind understanding the prevailing trends and fixing a price for a particular home service.

It’s evident that there is an on-going war of discounts in industries such as e-commerce, cabs and food ordering to name a few. These industries have gone past the point where they needed to standardize the pricing and create widespread adoption of their services. People now realize that they just have to tap a few buttons on their smartphone to book a cab or order a product or have their favourite meal delivered. These companies are now majorly focusing on the customer acquisition and retention part. Hence, the hefty discounts.

The home services industry, on the other hand, is at a disruptive stage right now. It is need-based industry that is still figuring out ways to streamline both pricing and mainstream adoption. There may be a time when such essential services start pouring in discounts too but there are far more important things that need to be addressed first.

Maintaining a household in a fast-paced lifestyle is not easy. Impulsive services such as plumbing, electrical and minor repairs are necessities of every homeowner. These services are already a part of our day-to-day lives and it perfectly makes sense for companiesto find a way to provide these services to customers at the convenience of their fingertips. Having a systematic way of booking home services from providers will also allow customers to take control of home related tasks right on their mobile phones.

About the Author:

Prashant Chaudhary is the Co-founder of Mr. Right (http://www.mrright.in), an on-demand web and mobile-based home services aggregator connecting homeowners with reliable and verified service professionals.)

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