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'There are more instances of unpleasant experiences...'

Deepika Nidige, Bengaluru, Feb 19, 2016, DHNS:
If customer expectations are set right, things can happen smoothly. Representative image
New players in the moving industry are aiming to ease pain points associated with the process through technology, learns Deepika Nidige during a chat with Deepu Chandran, co-founder, Pikkol

You know how the term ‘house-moving’ brings to mind dozens of cartons, sheets of bubble wrap and unnecessary haggling with movers? The team at Pikkol is aiming to change all of that. Camouflaged between beautiful independent houses that are now becoming homes to emerging businesses, the startup’s office in BTM Layout is hard to miss.

The company is looking at meeting the many challenges of the moving industry,largely by developing solutions using Software as a Service (SaaS) products.

Let’s say you are a family of four looking to move from Bellandur to Whitefield with the following inventory: a three-seater leather sofa set, one wooden dining table, four dining chairs, two executive chairs, one double cot, two single cots, three mattresses, one TV, one fridge, one washing machine, one oven, one fan, one wet grinder and one water purifier. The online estimate at Pikkol says this could cost you around Rs 7,000 or so.

In an interaction with Deccan Herald, the startup’s co-founder Deepu Chandran spoke about trends, misgivings and possible solutions for issues associated with the moving industry. Excerpts:

Moving is generally considered a painful process...

Not because of the hassles per se, but the process involves a change in the entire setting, which is not very comfortable for everyone. And as for the procedureitself, it is tedious and cumbersome. For long now, there has also been some sort of a distrust when it comes to dealing with movers and packers; probably for good reason too.

Perhaps, it has something to do with the way the industry has been working for so many years — with hidden costs and last minute price hikes. For instance, it is the experience of most people, that on the day they have to move, they are subjected to extra costs, taxes etc. Some may even have seen their goods being damaged. On the whole, there are more instances of unpleasant experiences.

How has the moving industry changed in the last decade?

Over the last 15 to 20 years, plenty of business has been coming from theprivate sector. People are becoming tech-savvy individuals who value convenience and transparency. They are also becoming immensely mobile, as opposed to being glued to one location, unlike a few years ago. Earlier, people had many social and societal roots, which compelled them to stay in one place. However, that is changing now.

Do rental furniture portals coming into the picture change things?

People are more comfortable with owning than renting. It is true that buying has its own charm. Most people don’t want to possess second-hand things. So they keep the core (significant things) to themselves and throw away the rest.

A noticeable trend is that as people become serious in their lives, they start focussing on possessions. Those under the age of 30 are flexible and move around with just a few bags. Significant items include traditional objects like sofa sets, televisions, cots, mattresses, washing machines etc.

Deciding to start with the Bengaluru market...

Internet penetration is high in Bengaluru. People are generally tech-savvy, more knowledgeable and receptive to change. That makes Bengaluru a natural choice.We are seeing that office movements are significant right now.

In fact, we have moved a lot of startups in the last few months. As companies grow, they need bigger offices, which leads to more movement. And in some cases, it involves shifting to a tier II city. The growth of startups in the city has led to migration. So, it also entails employee relocation eventually.

When it comes to moving houses, it is much more challenging. As the age of the mover increases, the number of items also goes up.

Things customers can do to ease the moving process...

If customer expectations are set right, things can happen smoothly. Keep a checklist:

* Keep small and valuable items packed beforehand, because you might end up misplacing them on the day of moving.

* Stop supply of newspapers and milk beforehand as you won't have time on the D day.

* The gas connection must be terminated, bills paid, purifier uninstalled, broadband and dish TV disconnected, because the movers might not be equipped to do all of these.

* If you have complex furniture that requires machinery to dismantle them, let the packers know in advance.

(To understand the moving process at Pikkol Deepu starts demonstrating it to me by picking a hypothetical moving situation. My name, e-mail and phone number are keyed in as customer details on their website; I’m supposed to move from Indiranagar and a list of typical items are to be moved — furniture, machines, kitchen equipment etc. And at the end of it, I’m given a sales quote and asked for a day I would like to move. At this point, I interject)

What are the common hassles you face with customers?

One very typical aspect is that customers do not look beyond the price. Sometimes, they get fleeced during their first experience; yet, they want to try their luck a second time with the same mover, if it means lesser money.

So, customer education is the most important thing. Make efforts to understand a little about how the sector works and take conscious decisions. While the movers use layers of technology to ease the process, remember, as a customer, you can pitch in your two cents too.

(As I head back to office, I get a phone call: “Hello ma’am. I’m calling from Pikkol. You wanted to move from your home and placed an order with us?”)

 

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