As on-demand platforms using gig labor look for reliable revenue, laundry app Hampr is getting into the B2B sector.
The company’s Jan. 10 launch of its commercial vertical, catering to business customers, can go a long way toward enabling the service to successfully launch in new areas, Laurel Hess, CEO of the on-demand laundry service, told PYMNTS.
“This new commercial vertical that we just launched is actually an interesting way to lead our market launches because we have predictable volume now,” Hess said. “Whereas before, you’re entering a residential market, you think the demand is there. You see it. But you can’t write a check to it and say, ‘I know I’m going to have this much,’ because you have to convert those users. With commercial, … you have that predictable demand flywheel going.”
Hess added that the company uses machine learning to identify areas with sufficient demand, and the technology has shown that suburban areas outside of major cities tend to be the best areas. These contain consumers and businesses alike with the disposable income to spare as well as the kinds of workers who might want to get on board.
“We’re really filling this hole in the small- to mid-markets where an Aramark or Cintas or a larger commercial laundry facility maybe can’t service because that particular customer needs more flexibility,” Hess said, adding that industry giants’ contracts tend to be too restrictive for businesses with highly variable needs.
As far as labor goes, Hampr’s target demographic primarily consists of millennial gig workers, stay-at-home parents and retirees. These individuals, who are often caretakers or have unpredictable schedules, find Hampr’s flexible work opportunities appealing. This marks a shift from other gig platforms, which often find that Generation Z makes up a disproportionate share of their workforce.
“Gen Z has more freedom,” she said. “They haven’t quite been having kids yet. … [Our gig workers] are stay-at-home parents, retirees, that are contributing to their household income. So, we’re still very firmly in the millennial camp.”
Hess said there has been a “resurgence of a sandwich generation,” with Generation X and millennial consumers put in a position where they are charged with taking care of both “their aging parents and their children at the same time,” demanding flexible labor opportunities that work around these challenging schedules.
Overall, many consumers now engage in gig work. According to the PYMNTS Intelligence report “New Reality Check: The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Report — The Supplemental Income Edition,” which drew from a survey of more than 4,100 U.S. consumers, 23% of consumers have a side job, and 17% have other types of supplemental income. Plus, those shares rise for younger generations, with 47% of millennials reporting having a side job.
Plus, PYMNTS Intelligence’s study “The ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Series: Meet the Zillennials,” which was based on a survey of nearly 4,000 U.S. consumers, found that 54% of millennials engage in platform work.
Hess emphasized that Hampr’s mobile app, powered by technology that may not have been possible several years ago, plays a crucial role in enabling its peer-to-peer laundry marketplace.
“I don’t think this could have existed a couple of years ago, but with the rise of on-demand and gig work apps like Uber and Airbnb, there’s a lot of technology in the market off the shelf that you can kind of hobble together to create a really robust platform,” Hess observed.
In addition to the company’s use of machine learning to identify attractive markets, Hess noted, Hampr also aims to use artificial intelligence more down the line to streamline laundry services and provide customers with a seamless experience.
A survey featured in the October edition of PYMNTS’ “Working Capital Tracker®” found that 84% of business leaders believe generative AI will positively impact the workforce, enabling a higher level of customer-centricity and delivering more precise predictions compared to conventional technologies.
Looking to the year ahead, Hess said she expects the company to grow, helped by the reliable income that its new B2B business will provide.
This strategy has remained largely consistent since PYMNTS spoke with Hampr back in 2020, and Hess noted at the time that the company could “go wherever the washers are.”
Now, AI plays a larger role in identifying that market fit, and the B2B business can go a long way toward ensuring the success of a given launch, but the general idea — finding areas where there are caretakers looking for a source of income that works with their homebound lifestyles — has held true.
“We know through our machine learning which markets have the most demand [and] where supply already exists near that demand … [to] make that model run,” Hess said in this latest conversation. “So, we are diligently trying to open these markets in a very intentional way.”