By Aashish Mishra
Kathmandu, Sept. 3: Home delivery is usually associated with fast food or e-commerce, not with barbers, butchers or mechanics. But as the coronavirus-induced restrictions drag on, more and more businesses are choosing to deliver their services directly to the customers’ homes, even though it was highly unlikely for them to do so before the pandemic.
Salons are businesses that do not typically go to the customers’ homes. They have a fixed location and people in need of haircare go to them. But most barbershops have been shuttered since the last lockdown in March. So, some barbers, like Santosh Thakur, have started offering ‘at-home haircuts.’
“The unprecedented crisis has forced me to adapt or starve,” Thakur, who operates his shop at Bakhumbahal, Lalitpur, told The Rising Nepal. “So, I have begun going to people’s homes to cut hair.”
Asked if he has been able to fully transition to the ‘at-home’ model, he said no. “I cannot move around freely because of the prohibitory order. I cannot ride my motorcycle so I cannot take jobs that are very far. Even when I am walking, the police sometimes turn me back.”
Auto mechanic Prem Raj Manandhar is also facing similar difficulties. “Since my customers can’t bring their vehicles to me, I go to them. But it is hard.” His main difficulty is not being able to carry all his equipment. “Fixing automobiles is a complex task that requires many tools and machines. I can’t take them all with me.”
But Manandhar is gradually learning how to improvise with fewer tools and plans to continue this even after his workshop in Dallu, Kathmandu opens. “There is no guarantee that similar restrictions won’t be imposed again so I will continue with this ‘home service’ model for the near future.”
Delivering products though seems to be easier than delivering services. Because while Thakur and Manandhar are having difficulties in moving out of their shop, Naresh Subedi, a butcher from Tahagalli, Lalitpur, is thriving. In fact, his business has increased ever since he started delivering meat to his clientele’s residence.
“I have found that people buy more frequently when they don’t need to come out of their homes,” Subedi said, adding, “It is not that hard for me too. I cut, pack and deliver. I also get to charge a little extra for home delivery.”
Subedi has this suggestion for businesses having a hard time because of the current prohibitions in place: “You can’t change the situation so you must adapt to it, improvise your sales methods and overcome the crisis.”
– The Rising Nepal