E-Commerce in India was born out of the challenges faced by brick and mortar retail, namely traffic woes and high real estate cost. It restricted developers and brands to build more shops and malls at a frequency that they would want to. In the beauty industry too, we are witnessing a trend that draws its inspiration from a ‘need’. For this reason, at home beauty services in India is attracting eyeballs.
To aptly set the context for the story, we take an incident from the diary of Garima Jain, Co-founder for Belita Retail Pvt Ltd, which inspired the launch of India’s first professional home beauty services. Garima reminisces, “One day during a late evening, when we had ordered a Domino’s pizza, I answered the doorbell and thought aloud, “Is there no Domino’s for salon services?” My husband replied, “I don’t think there is, but why don’t we start one?” That was the starting point of our venture. We started a research on the health and wellness industry in India and it was clear that this industry was completely unorganised. There was no single company that offered doorstep salon and spa services.”
For Renu Bisht and Pragya Upadhyaya, Founders of VanityCube, the lack of time to visit salons or spas led them to launch the concept in Delhi NCR and now they have expanded their services to Mumbai as well. Bisht reveals, “VanityCube was founded in August 2014. It basically started when we both discovered a personal need of not being able to make it to the salon due to our hectic corporate schedules. Weekends were generally utilised for grocery shopping and socialising and when you eventually did reach a salon, it was time for them to close down. Amidst all this chaos, we realised the need gap for a professional and structured home salon. On further research, we found that there was no one formal setup that provided these professional services. There were local salons whose quality was of dubious standards. That’s when the thought of VanityCube came to our mind and we decided that we wanted to bring a revolutionary change in the on-demand beauty and wellness space.”
Where Jain and Bisht shaped up their company based on personal need, for MyGlamm, the inception had its roots in incidents drawn from professional experience of running a salon and spa. Sanghvi Brands, behind the launch of MyGlamm, drew inspiration for the launch of their at home services from feedback they received while running their salon chain. Shares Darpan Sanghi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, MyGlamm, “While running Warren Tricomi Salons and L’Occitane Spas, we noticed consumers asking our stylists to come home. We also noticed consumers complaining that they never managed last minute appointments. Thus, we saw a clear need in the market for quality on-demand hair and beauty services, delivered at a consumer’s doorstep. This is how MyGlamm was born.”
Overcoming the challenges
To replicate a salon-like experience at home has its share of challenges and they are mighty strong ones. From ensuring all the senses are taken care of to ruling away the discomfort a client may experience due to lack of a salon chair and a big mirror, the players in the category of at home beauty services have made a great beginning. However, before we talk of the infrastructure and logistic challenges, the most evident challenge was to build a team. Shares Bisht, “One of the challenges was to get our first employee on-board and convincing her on our business model. Convincing salon professionals to take up freelancing assignments was also a tough task initially. Also, certain people were apprehensive about the concept of home services for a simple reason that they were not sure about the quality of services and security.” Adds Sanghvi on behalf of MyGlamm, “We took an ambitious goal of designing, building and launching the business in three months. Key areas of challenges were building best in class tech and operations teams, on-boarding the initial set of freelancers, building a brand and getting consumers to adopt MyGlamm.” Considering their strong salon experience, the nuances were dealt with in a much better way.
Sanghvi elaborates, “From day one we focused on building a team of professionals with
the right mix from the industry, functional and technical experience. Our understanding
and relationships within the industry allowed us to attract the best talent and forge the right partnerships. Our experience in B2C marketing helped create a buzz around the MyGlamm brand quickly and with the right service delivery, we have been able to create a market leadership position in less than three months of launch.” Jain, who is a pioneer in the category of offering a professional at home beauty service, had before her a mammoth task of beginning from scratch without having anyone to follow. She shares, “We launched officially in 2012 with a small team of therapists and a trainer. The journey has been a roller coaster ride with challenges in operations, HR and quality control. We started when the home services were not a norm and it meant freelance beauticians. The regular freelancer beautician had several challenges in terms of hygiene, quality and professionalism. It was a challenge to convey to customers that beauty care at home can be professional and hygienic. The other major challenge was to standardise the services and quality of services being delivered in complete isolation.”
Making sure that there is complete control on the performance of their team, the service providers have put systems in place to bring on-board a team of professionals. Khaitan shares, “The best way to validate a service is to try it first-hand. So before we onboard any beauty professional on our platform, they are tried out by our lady employees first. Only after they are way above the standards, do get them to join us.” Bisht adds, “We follow a rigorous selection process, wherein we interview all the beauticians and make-up artists personally and then take their trials. We ensure that they have a minimum of four years of experience and are verified by the police.”
At MyGlamm, Sanghvi has created MyGlamm Artist Incubators in Mumbai and Pune where they have industry experts and the best in-class trainers provide training to the artists. He elaborates, “Our team of experts and international trainers have created detailed SOPs and service standardisation that ensures that customers receive salon-like or even better service at home.” Beauty professionals associated with the platforms are given the liberty to take in individual assignments during the time they are not engaged. But there are systems in place which ensure that no practitioner misuses the platform. Sanghvi shares, “We have puts checks and balances in places that discourage artists and consumers to connect directly. For the artist, these include training, on-going skill development, exposure to best practices, access to customers, branding which allows them to ask for a better price, rewards for every appointment, mentoring and a community of like minded artists. The artists will be losing all these benefits if they
choose to start on their own.” Adding further, he says, “We cross-check the final bill amount with the customer and artist for each appointment. In addition, both the customer and artist receive rewards based on the final bill amount. We have a dedicated
artist management process, which checks for anomalies and takes corrective action.”
Teaming up with technology
Team MyGlamm is an eclectic mix of operations + technology + education + domain expertise + youth + experience. Comprising IITians, MBAs from Kellogg, ESADE and industry experience with Lakme, Quikr, BBLUNT, Rediff, Jean Claude Biguine, CapGemini and a lot more. The team’s focus also rests with leveraging the latest in technology
on the mobile and web to enable consumers to order beauty home services conveniently and efficiently. In fact, technology has been the key in the growth and spread of at home beauty services for each player within this category. Not only is technology being used to have a strong online presence for booking of appointments and targeting new
customers, but it is also being deployed effectively to track the movements of the team to ensure their safety and the time they would spend for a particular assignment.
Jain accentuates the role of technology in helping her with Belita. She reveals, “In our new model, technology is playing major role in efficiency enhancement. While, we started with a traditional offline player, we have recently veered to an Online model with a tech supported and controlled marketplace that enables a large pool of beauticians to deliver great experience to customers.
We started when the home services were not a norm. Home beauty care meant freelance beauticians. The regular freelancer beautician had several challenges in terms of hygiene, quality and professionalism. It was a challenge
to convey to customers that the Beauty care at home can be professional and hygienic.
Founder & CEO, MyGlamm
Today, we are humbled to have served over one lakh plus services, 550+ brides, 1,100 weddings in Mumbai and Pune and we are expanding to other cities, as well.” MyGlamm has an interesting App, which has been put to place for induction of new team members. Sanghvi elaborates, “Every MyGlamm Artist who joins our App, goes through our MyGlamm Artist Incubators where they are verified, skill tested, evaluated, trained and incubated to deliver the best quality home services. These incubators turn stylists and beauticians into independent entrepreneurs. All our artists are well trained not only in their technical skills, but also in soft skills.”
Revealing more on the App and used it to ensure safety of the women employees, Sanghvi shares, “All artists go through a complete evaluation and background check beforehand. Thus, consumers can be assured that the artist coming to their home has been verified. Since artist safety is also important to us, so no cross-gender spa treatments are allowed. Artists are also tracked on GPS and they need to check-in and check-out. There is a process whereby if they are taking longer than expected for a service, an alert is raised to the corporate team who then checks on the artist’s whereabouts. There is also a provision for an SOS button on the App the artist can press anytime he / she feels threatened.”
Jain elaborates, “We use technology extensively in every level – customer interaction, operations, beautician management, and more. We have strong feedback mechanism independent of beauticians by which we are able to track any pilferage. We have seen a few cases and it is because of the value addition we provide to beauticians that they do not want to bypass. We allow all modes of payments, such as cash, card, wallet, and also the Belita wallet. With a robust ERP in place we are able to track all payments on the go. We have customers who prefer to use a card or pay online.” At VanityCube, the team verify the customer before confirming a booking and for it, they use different tools. Bisht adds, “All our employees have registered with Mobile Applications which enable them to send SOS in case of an emergency to a VanityCube representative, their family member and the local police, but touch wood, till date we have never faced any security issue with our beauticians!”
We realised the need gap for a professional and structured home salon. On further research, we found that there was no one formal setup that provided these professional services. There were local salons whose quality of dubious standards.
Bisht encapsulates the journey covered by VanityCube so far by saying, “It has been a roller coaster ride. We started with a team of four and today we have a team size of almost 100 people! We not only have happy home clients, but we provide regular
services in office premises, hotels and wedding venues. We have currently come up with a salon inside the Snapdeal office in Gurgaon as part of our B2B venture and have tied up with budget hotels like OYO rooms. We do regular express services in the form of pamper sessions in the corporate premises of Jabong, Knowlarity, Sprinklr, Hike, to name a few. Currently, we provide women in Delhi NCR and Mumbai services like make-up, facial, waxing, manicure, pedicure, hairstyling, and more. The most popular of them being make-up, facial, waxing and pedicure.” Talking about MyGlamm, Sanghvi
shares, “The response has been fantastic! We have noticed that over 50 per cent of our business is either repeat or through referrals.
Customers are loving the concept of getting high quality hair and beauty services, when they want it and where they want it. In our first month, we did 450 services, in the second month, we did 1,290 services in our third month, it was 3,250+ services and in the fourth month, we are set to cross 6,000! In three months, we have grown 1500 per cent!” All the service providers have grown comfortably well to expand to other cities. Where Belita is growing further from Mumbai and entering other cities in Maharashtra, UrbanClap and MyGlamm are adding other metro cities to their map. A good use of traditional and social media is being used extensively for the spread of the services.