Facebook, Google dives into home services in India

26 Oct 2017

EBay has done it (with Gumtree Connect in South Africa), OLX Group has done it (with Fixly in Poland), Quikr has done it (with QuikrServices in India) and now Facebook and Google have also done it: rolled out online-services sites.

The two global giants have apparently decided to give Quikr competition in India for its well-diversified section for home services (here).

Facebook’s newly-launched, web-based, services sub-site looks deceptively simple, and a lot like Facebook’s other pages. But, as you scroll down you discover it offers hyperlocal services in many, many sub-categories: plumbing, beauty, cosmetic and personal care, event planning, pet services, business services, financial services, among others. There are many more.

Service suppliers in the neighborhood may simply upload their business details (it’s free) through their Facebook pages. The platform enables users to review (rate) service providers they have contracted.

In beta since November 2015, nearly two million SMEs have already listed on the Facebook platform, according to an Inc42.com report. The story was first broken by Economic Times.

Recently, Google rolled out an Android app in India called Areo, which lists service providers such as appliance repairers, beauticians, car washes, carpenters, electricians, fitness experts, food delivery firms, house cleaners, house painters, pest controllers, plumbers and security installators.

Although we were able to download and install Areo, it appeared to be still “under construction”. Google Play store claims between 1 million and 5 million downloads and SimilarWeb started measuring the app in October but publishes no stats yet.

In May this year, Quikr acquired Zimmber for $10 million U.S. to strengthen its online services offer. Just a year earlier, Quikr invested $39.1 million (Rs 250 crore) in this category by acquiring three start-ups, namely Zalosa, Zapluk and Stayglad.

As per Inc42 Datalabs, more than 400 start-ups entered the hyperlocal services market in India in the 5-year period from 2011 to 2016. Of these, 193 raised more than $1 billion U.S. between them, and another 100 have since gone to start-up heaven.

The entrance of the big guys seems to be impacting the small guys negatively. Amazon-backed Housejoy, which has raised $27 million U.S. to date, cut its geographic footprint in India this year, and reduced its headcount by almost half, according to an Economic Times report.

Several other start-ups scaled down, or shuttered up. For instance, Doormint, a Mumbai-based laundry service, shut shop in September; Taskbob closed down in January this year, after failing to raise fresh funds; even UrbanClap has accumulated losses of just below $10 million U.S., after raising nearly $35 million U.S. from various investors in 2016, according to Inc42.com.

Smaller players include Roadrunnr, Opinio, and Zopper.

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Radhika Sachdev

Radhika Sachdev is a journalist who has held senior editorial positions with major Indian newspaper banners. She has over 20 years of experience in the profession, covering Advertising, Marketing, Media, Education, HR, Real Estate and Environment beats. She is also a partner and chief content developer for Write Solutions, a boutique content house she founded eight years ago, signifying her diversification from journalism to copywriting and media consultancy.