With the surge of home service offerings, the home has become the new frontier for creating value. Our COO, Siavash Habibi, takes a closer look at "Hometail", the new kind of in-home retail experience.
If the home wasn’t central before, it certainly is now. Our own four walls have become the place where we spend most of our time given the current pandemic. This has sparked a strong rise in spending money around home improvement, home delivery, home services, home offices, home entertainment, and also house prices and rent. The trend is clear, and it’s likely not going to change for a long time, if ever. The home is the new frontier for creating value, and convenience will be the deciding factor behind which offers consumers choose.
Whether this is good news or not for brands really depends on whether they have addressed the opportunities, or if they insist on doing things the same way as before. There is an untapped opportunity in serving customers at home. A new market and brand positioning, a new revenue stream, a way to strengthen customer loyalty, and capturing more parts of the customers actual journey.
From Retail to Hometail
Imagine a customer walking into a consumer electronics store and asking for a home entertainment system. The sales representative helps them decide what to purchase based on their needs, and just when they start thinking about the burden of setting it all up at home, the sales representative offers to personally come to their home and install it for them for a small service fee - which they accept. The sales representative shows up on site, completes the installation and walks the customer through the features of their new system. When trying out the sound system, some small potential annoyances become apparent to the sales representative. The adjacent bedroom will easily be disturbed by the sound, the customer is missing a cable to also connect the BlueRay player, and the wifi connection to the room is not optimal. The sales representative happens to have the cable and can offer this on the spot, and recommends coming back with sound isolation panels to minimize disturbance in the bedroom, and also to try a repeater for improved wifi in the TV room. The customer accepts the offer and the sales representative returns another day to finalize the service. What an experience!
For the customer, this is service on another level. They didn’t have to discover these annoyances by themself, go back to the store, try to grab a hold of someone and try their best to describe the problem. Instead the retailer created great value on site, and at great convenience. For the retailer, not only did the customer complete the first purchase, they also added on a service that likely has a higher margin than the product. On-site, the sales representative sold a cable, isolation panels, a repeater, and a repeat service. Furthermore, the customer was delighted and will likely return for future purchases. This is the potential of “in-home retail” or what some call Hometail.
With more and more shopping happening online, the need for personal support will only increase. Even e-commerce players will need to address the gap in understanding the home context if they want to be competitive and create more value. The upselling opportunity of providing services at home cannot be understated. Neither can the convenience and value creation for the customer. It is a sweet spot that few companies are taking advantage of. So why aren’t more companies offering this service?
Two words, complexity and cost.
Heavy infrastructure: big back-office and legacy technology
The cost and complexity are primarily around managing the human resources involved in offering on-site support or services to customers in a wider geographic range. Here are the common difficulties in managing on-site services for a big brand:
To handle all these variables is a massive undertaking for most brands. Either they will need a strong back office to manage everything from A to Z, or a powerful platform. Many of the big companies that are attempting to offer support, are stuck in legacy IT infrastructure, which makes it very difficult to add on or change to managing large volumes of support cases more efficiently . As such, big corporations often rely on a large group of back office workers, which is a very costly endeavour. Combine this with the cost of the support agents on the field, and the equation quickly stops adding up.
Offering home support and deliveries is much easier for start-ups and scale-ups that were built for this purpose, with modern platforms designed to achieve high efficiency, and great unit-economics. Unfortunately, for the big enterprises, these proprietary platforms are not offered.
For brands to quickly get started with offering on-site support services, they would need a plug and play platform that is easily integrated into their existing technical infrastructure - that includes a highly sophisticated process to streamline the service management process. This sweet spot is exactly what brought BuddyCompany to start offering their own platform, Buddy.inc, to other companies.
Plug & Play software, that also enables the gig-economy
BuddyCompany is a leading tech support company in Europe, and has reached over 100,000 delivered services with an average customer rating of 4,8 out of 5, by utilizing the Buddy.inc platform - as well as a sustainable approach to the gig-economy. Through the Buddy.inc platform pricing model, BuddyCompany could expand to new cities, onboard hundreds of technicians and scale their business, without incurring massive upfront licensing fees.
This is why the Buddy.inc offering was created - to enable other companies the opportunity to offer on-site support services to their customers in a scalable and cost effective way, without having to change their existing technical infrastructure. The cloud based platform is built for easy integration, scalability and tailored for on-site support, with features that were developed over years of real-life experiences in improving toward a world class customer experience. Buddy.inc is already being used by major retailers such as Kjell & Company and Media Markt, who were able to quickly add on-site services without incurring massive costs or complexity. Now, their customers can be served by these brands which they have a trusting relationship with, in the comfort of their homes.
What makes Buddy.inc special is its flexibility in terms of managing support agents. Companies can choose whether they want their employees, freelancers, hybrids, or even external companies to handle the service requests of their customers through the platform - while maintaining complete oversight and control over the entire service and customer journey.
Partners of BuddyCompany, all have strategies around the home, and see it as a must to stay relevant and continue creating value for their customers in a fast changing environment. The “Hometail” phenomenon has only just begun, and it will be interesting to see which companies act fast to seize the opportunities it presents.