REPORTAGE — Self-service at the time of digital economy


Treating the subject of self-service laundries means dealing with the market of products that is inevitably influenced by different cultures and economic contexts that interact with the offer and demand for work, but also with the evolution of experiences and the ways clients access the service. A circular model, where economy, society and work redefine users’ standards, and where manufacturers can design products to be launched onto the market

Obviously, we cannot trace a sociological analysis in this context, even if it would be very useful. We will limit ourselves to underline how, from the demand point of view, in a dynamic society where the widespread network is under the eyes of everyone, there is no room for bad experiences but there is a universe of services to be improved, made more accessible, smarter and more efficient both generally and purely economically. The producers participating in this Reportage reveal that the old model of a self-service laundry is undergoing a metamorphosis while the experience of final users is changing completely: time, capacity and resources are assets that can be monetized, and citizens act in synergy with completely digitized machines.

We are speaking with Francesco Ciaponi, the Sales Manager of AGA C.O.M. Srl, who explains, “as far as self-service goes, we produce machines that range from 10 to 18 kg. We have started and inaugurated 400 laundries all over the world. Until two years ago, low-cost machines had still been favored. Recently, the tendency has changed bringing the quality and expertise to the center of attention. Our self-service laundry in Barcellona, that works with the Eco-Logic line (a perfect combination of eco-friendly products and a smart, efficient service) offers the clients machines that consume 40% less water and that contribute to a consistent and significant energy saving if compared to an average product present on the market today. In virtue of efficiency, we have launched an ironing service for washed garments: clients can leave their washed garments inside a cabinet and the next day, they will withdraw their ready, ironed clothes. The latest news is that soon, we are going to open a self-service laundry in Russia. We have been working hard on this project so that everything goes in the best possible way”.

“Creating a smart self-service laundry for both the owner and the client: this was the objective we had set when we started to work on the MyCleanClean project, says Gabriele Giotto, the Sales and Product Manager at Grandimpianti. The format, thanks to the innovative control system called Wavy, the Wi-Fi and Cloud TheMind connection is able to distinguish itself from the panorama of self-service offers and to guarantee exclusive advantages such as the possibility, for the owners, to manage the sales policy completely from remote by monitoring machines’ functioning (the most chosen cycles, the most common time of the day, consumption data, general information charts, alarms, etc.). It is also possible to modify the parameters (e.g. discount, prices relative to the time of the day, diagrams, etc.). Also, users can very easily and quickly select the most suitable cycle thanks to the 7″ display and the language represented by icons. Finally, it is possible to remotely visualize the situation taking place in the laundry in real time (free machines, machines in function, cycles in progress) through the QR code so that the time can be managed better as one can decide whether it is time to go back to the laundry or go do something else while waiting. A technologically advanced solution that has been developed aiming at simplicity, intuitive use and practicality which is similar to the use of a smartphone.

Marco Niccolini, the General Sales and Marketing Director at Renzacci S.p.A. explains how “Renzacci’s innovation for self-service washing is reflected by WATERLAND, an exclusive formula whose success translates to the many units operating all over the world today. Many new product entries allow to obtain highly practical use, cost and time saving for both those who bring their garments to wash and those who run the place. Starting from the easy and quick opening of the shop to the advantage of not having to invest in costly plant or construction works that, apart from being expensive, can almost never be reused nor remonetized. The “INTELLECTUS” by Renzacci is also turning out to be extremely successful. It is an exclusive domotics system that allows to monitor the functioning and profitability of the laundry in real time. It is also possible to arrange customized promotional campaigns that reach clients directly from the tablet. The system combines with the extraordinary “Half-consumption Waterland”: a new drying system of garments that allows to reduce both the consumption of energy and energy power installed in a self-service laundry also, eliminating problems and costs linked to the regulations on traditional energy sources in use”.

“The European sector of self-service laundries is entering a very interesting stage where we can observe – says Vittorio Maglione, the Country Manager Italy at Alliance Laundry System – two different scenarios. In countries like France, Belgium and Italy, where the population is more used to the presence of coin-ops, shops set up in a depressing way, often poor looking will quickly have to make room for new, well-designed shops, clean and pleasurable environments equipped with modern machines and smart, updated methods of payment. In countries where self-service laundries still represent something new – let us think about Poland, Spain, Portugal but also Germany – there won’t be any room for a poor kind of offer. Today, the investors are oriented towards sophisticated equipment and furnishing in terms of design and machines. The payment systems will also be easily discriminated as the classic coin will have to be replaced by multiple payment systems such as apps, credit cards, loyalty cards aligned by the traditional cash. Probably, the legendary income of the first 2000s will leave room for some interesting income yet, based on a more solid and qualified business”.

To conclude, we speak with CEA Group. A brand new business reality with the historical past: CEA GROUP with its team of young, resourceful professionals and technical staff with international work experience in the sector, has entered the self-service market introducing new industrial washing machines and technologically advanced dryers enriched by the Italian design. An absolute new entry is represented by the OPERATIVE RENTAL + PACK ASSISTANCE formula proposed all over Italy for both the used AGA machines as well as the new ones. It includes every single cost of ordinary and extraordinary maintenance for up to 4 years. What is more, the company offers the possibility to intervene on existing SPEEDY WASH laundries in order to renovate them through a new technological and innovative concept; as an alternative, the business offers a NEW FORMAT OF SELF-SERVICE with newly designed machines. Also in these cases, the PACK ASSISTANCE is provided. This new and innovative formula has been launched onto the national market by CEA GROUP exclusively. Another new entry is reflected by the new computerized ENERGY SAVING system. Particularly indicated for self-service laundries, it has become very successful among the old and new clients. Designed ad hoc, it is already present in many installations. It allows to significantly reduce the contracted and used kWh without reducing the drying time of tumble dryers, which guarantees important saving, higher safety, less stress for the machines and the protection of textiles. Advanced technology and the attention to consumption levels combined with the supplied BIO detergents compose the new concept by CEA GROUP that aims at the environmental protection, consumption reduction and lower running costs.

In conclusion, the panorama presented by some of the businesses of the sector aims at the creation of a service able to make the experience at a self-service laundry efficient while focusing on the segment target whose needs are complex and determined by various factors. All that allows the companies to collect a relevant quantity of figures and information in order to realize, on their basis, a system of guidelines, configurations and the forecast of needs. This way, final users will be assisted and serviced in the most efficient way possible while reaching objectives that best reflect their lifestyles.


by Marzio Nava