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The Fundamental Flaw in all Indian startups

The Fundamental Flaw in all Indian startups
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Clearly, I love startups. They have opened doors of possibilities to make life extremely comfortable and achieve everyday tasks never thought possible before. Some have even successfully managed to create a demand that I never thought I needed in the first place to begin with. Thankfully for these startups too, I am not alone – millions of Indians use apps and web services on a persistent basis and have been switching sides from traditional businesses to startups. However, there’s one fundamental flaw in virtually all startups that bother me to the extent that I cannot wrap my head around how no one else has it sorted yet. If fixed, it would open doors to a new customer data base as well as increase revenue phenomenally.

(Image source: www.publicdomainpictures.net)

So what do Amazon, eBay, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Paytm, Zimmber and virtually all other startups that require a physical product delivery have in common?

There’s no night operation

Like most adult individuals, I have a job and spend my weekdays working. Again, like most individuals, my job runs during office hours, and living in a metro city, there’s a phenomenal amount of travel time to and from work. This basically means I am out of my house during all operational hours – which in my individual case is 9am – 6pm. I usually also have Saturdays working, thus the time to avail any services of startups is impossible. Virtually no startup delivers outside these hours.

Startups are losing out on business from bachelors

Bachelors in particular are probably the most paying customers that will go out of their way to find lazier, or should we say easier alternatives to everyday business transactions. Therefore, the largest customers of startups are bound by painful time restrictions when it comes to availing services. This annoyance is especially so if they live alone, or share an apartment with others that are also not available during office hours.

Everybody’s got better things to do than wait for the delivery man

Even if your working hours aren’t as painfully long as mine, nobody has the patience to wait for everyday simple tasks. Your day time is preciously limited to things to achieve and do in order of priority. For example, why should I be stranded to my house waiting for groceries to be delivered during day time hours? Who has the patience to wait for PomPom trash pickup to show up and cancel out all their other commitments? Why wait for repairing electrical equipment through Zimber all day?

Weekends are reserved for social activities, not chores

What startups fail to understand is that the youth, for the most part, would have at least some things to do for the weekend that they’re looking forward to the whole week. Adding “wait for laundry man to show up” or “get house hold cleaning done” is certainly not in the list. If I am getting just one day off a week, I want to do other things rather than just wait for delivery man to show up.

So what’s the solution?

  • Using a combination of shifts for its employees
  • Using AI and automation response systems that assist rendering services
  • Having a dedicated staff available to respond timely to emails and calls, even at odd hours
  • Making operational hours abundantly clear on the website, app and in terms of conditions so that users can make a clear decision while selecting a startup for their services
  • Having the option for users to select a time slot when the services would be rendered/ goods delivered
  • Getting SMS notifications on the status of the service request
  • GPS tracking on delivery agents so that users can assist delivery man to find their location and quicken the process

Some startups have tapped into this market understanding their large customer services database runs on odd hours. This includes cab services, such as Uber & Ola and specific food delivery services such as Zomato, Foodpanda and Swiggy. Not only with their apps and websites be functioning well, their customer care lines are also open 24/7. It’s about time we add an option to the rest to be included as well.

Do you also worry about when your package is going to get delivered or when that appointment with the repairman is ever going to be pursued since you reach home late 6 days a week? Share your frustration on our official Facebook page Entrepreneur India

Edition: October 2016

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