Business / Technology

Ironing out the creases in China' s first laundry app

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-05-01 15:19

BEIJING - Two years ago, many Chinese had their clothes cleaned at laundries near home, but more are turning to Edaixi, an Uber-style laundry pickup app developed by China's biggest domestic washing brand Rong Chang (RC).

The convenience of Edaixi for busy white-collar workers in cities like Beijing has attracted thousands of users overnight, but keeping those clients is another issue.

Guo Xiaoyu published her first experience of using the app on the Sina Weibo social network: one of her precious overcoats worth 3,000 yuan had shrunk after dry-cleaning. "I won't use this service any more, I swear!" Guo complained.

A national dispute mediation service ruled that Guo would get 500 yuan compensation, 20 times the washing fee. However, Edaixi bought her a new coat from Korea instead.

And Zhang Rongyao, the creator of Edaixi, invited Guo to the company's headquarters to address the staff on the "user experience."

This focus on 'user experience' has cut the complaint rate to 0.1 percent, said Zhang.

A dominant player in the laundry market, RC has sold washing machines and skills to franchisees for the past two decades.

"We are so far removed from users that we can't deal with disputes in franchises. With Edaixi, we can monitor every part of this O2O (online to offline) circle. Some users demand way too much in compensation, but we try our best to keep complaints at bay," Zhang said.

When Zhang started RC in 1990, the 22-year-old college graduate only dreamed of creating jobs for his family.

By 2000, RC owned 110 outlets around the country. Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong considered investing, but pointed out two problems: RC failed to meet all clients' needs and its business model was asset-centered with most investment going to rent and machines.

Goldman Sachs's analysis stirred Zhang into transforming the business. At the crossroads of investing more in the laundry industry or diversifying, Zhang chose the former.

"I am not willing to see Rong Chang end up being an e-commerce company that takes no responsibility for service quality," Zhang said.

The same year, RC cooperated with Sina Corp to offer a laundry service online. Two years of study in the China Europe Business School had deepened Zhang's understanding of the Internet's role in business.

Twenty-five years after starting RC, Zhang came up with a catch-all app - Edaixi.

With this on-demand laundry app, users are not bothered by parking issues, complicated washing procedures and opening hours.

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