To give consumers one less chore to complete in their day-to-day lives, startups have picked up laundry and returned clean clothes to customers for years. One of them, California-based Rinse, was founded five years ago. Ajay Prakash, the company’s co-founder and CEO, noted that the need for such a service was apparent very early on: “Laundry is a chronic recurring pain point,” he told PYMNTS in an interview. “You need to do it all the time.”
Rinse recently made news when it put a new spin on its business model. The company has rolled out a subscription offering called Rinse Repeat. Prakash explained that laundry is ideally positioned as a subscription-type offering. Even though his company hasn’t offered that pricing structure in the past outside of a recent test in California, Prakash said customers have been using his service in the similar way, as they have been turning to Rinse on a recurring basis.
Prakash saw an opportunity to formalize a subscription offering, with the aim of creating a customer-centric offering and trying some ideas that were new to the company and the industry.
For one, Prakash flipped the traditional industry pricing model on its head. Historically, he noted, laundry pricing has been very vendor-centric, with a model based on charging customers by the pound. While a laundry business would understand such a model, Prakash said that the average consumer might find it difficult to understand, as they would not know how much a pile of laundry weighs.
To eliminate any confusion, Prakash’s service charges customers by the bag, which is essentially a customer’s laundry basket or hamper – all the customer has to do is fill it up. The company offers both a small bag that can hold about two loads of laundry and a large bag that can hold roughly four loads. By offering a subscription, Prakash can provide a regular cadence of service – either on a weekly or bi-weekly basis – as well as a discounted price.
Laundry Business Innovations
Beyond pricing, Rinse offers pickup and delivery times that are arguably more convenient for customers. One of the main pain points in dry cleaning and laundry, Prakash said, is that cleaners tend to be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those hours don’t necessarily meet consumers’ scheduling needs, so Rinse offers pick-ups and deliveries between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. During that window, the company’s drivers collect a customer’s laundry – as well as any special instructions – and later returned the clean clothes on his or her schedule.
The company’s subscription service also provides benefits to its vendors. Prakash noted that one of the company’s big value propositions for its partners is consistency and predictability. Since the majority of wash-and-fold customers already use the service on the recurring basis, there isn’t much of a change on the partners’ end with the new subscription offering. “We’re already sending that steady, predictable stream to our cleaning partners,” he said.
Before rolling out the service to all of its coverage areas, Rinse ran a test in Los Angeles for a handful of months, with only one size of bag. Prakash noted that customers appreciated the regularity and predictability of the service, but he learned from the test that there was demand for more than one size bag, which informed the idea to offer various sizes for the wider rollout.
The latest offerings from companies like Rinse suggest that the subscription model can apply to a wide range of consumer conveniences – even the chance to unload the routine chore of doing the laundry.