Handymen come to the fore as grocery delivery turns sour

  • Sruthin Lal, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 26, 2016 20:51 IST
Domestic services apps are going hyper local. But Facebook can shake them all up (Abhimanyu Sinha)

The home-service delivery market — where the average age of most of the companies such as Housejoy, UrbanClap, QuikrServices, and LocalOy is about two years or less — is seeing entry from many players, including global social networking giant Facebook.

There are new challenges as well, such as finding workers with the right skills, ensuring safety of workers and clients, and delivering the services professionally.

“At present, this sector is at its nascent stage,” said PD Sundar, head of QuikrServices, which offers hyper-local services. “But over time some consolidation can be expected.” QuikrServices receives over 100,000 consumer requests every day, and has over 250,000 independent service providers offering over 80 services.

Facebook, which started listing services this month, may have an edge due to its wider user base. “We’re testing a way for people to easily find more pages for the services they are interested in,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

Saran Chatterjee, CEO of Housejoy, which focusses exclusively on home-delivery services, said the most important factor in this segment is satisfying users with good experience.

Housejoy conducts skill-development programme for service providers. It has tied up with background-checking company BetterPlace to verify service providers. It also has an SOS option on the app, which can be used by the service provider or the client, if something goes wrong.

“The market has always existed, though it is unorganised. It’s massive and the demand is huge,” said Chatterjee. Operational in 13 cities, Housejoy, which has raised about $27 million ( Rs 180 crore), estimates the size of the market to be more than $10 billion (Rs 66,000 crore) a year.

According to skilled workers, such platforms also nurture micro-entrepreneurship opportunities. For instance, Vanita Kalsanwar, who works as a beautician on such a platform, said she enjoys the flexibility of working hours, and earns up to Rs 25,000 a month compared to around Rs 17,000 earlier.

There are also apps, such as Helpchat, which aims to eliminate the need to download multiple apps. Helpchat learns about the service providers on multiple platforms, and suggests the suitable ones.

“We are India’s answer to Facebook and Google, which are unable to understand and process the peculiar Indian content,” said Kali Charan Shukla, vice-president, marketing, Helpchat, which has about 1.5 million downloads within a year.

Read: Bai on call: How home service apps are changing domestic help market

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