Whether it's TV, taxis, travel or titillation, the world is becoming increasingly ondemand. And Flossie.com is aiming to tap into that trend with a new smartphone app aimed at the hair and beauty industry that connects willing buyers with willing sellers.
Flossie.com launched in 2012, initially marketing 'quiet time' in salons and spas, and often at a discount. Chief executive Jenene Crossan says customers were quick to take advantage of the treatments, and salons and spas were happy filling seats that would otherwise be empty.
"But many customers wanted more. They wanted a simpler way of booking all treatments, not just quiet time, often last minute, at their favourite retailers. They wanted to get the right appointment at the right time. Discount was secondary."
And so Flossie Concierge, a smartphone app that enables customers to request appointments, book and pay via their mobile phone, was born.
In New Zealand, she says the hair and beauty industry is a billion dollar market. And research conducted by Flossie.com indicates that less than 25 percent of customers now make advance bookings. This is placing pressure on the traditional model that salons have relied on for repeat and continued custom.
Crossan says the app meets the needs of consumers who increasingly leave bookings until the last minute, then just want an appointment on the same day. And salons that sign up get a desktop app to receive requests for a booking, and can respond with a price.
"Flossie Concierge isn’t a salon management software tool. Building an application to allow bookings in a decentralised marketplace where there are no standard booking engines is a non-trivial exercise."
She says the team, led by her and chief technology officer Steven Torrance and with assistance from freelance iOS developer Robert Payne, has been quietly investing in building the Flossie Concierge technology and convincing salons to get involved. And it's been well-received so far, she says. It ran some trials last month, selected 100 of Flossie.com’s best customers and asked them to test the app in a closed, but live environment.
"The response was strong. 800 requests were sent by 100 customers to 80 plus salons, in fewer than four weeks, with a conversion rate of over 40 percent. The success of this test spread quickly and salons quickly put their hands up to come on board."
Crossan says the business has undertaken extensive modeling of expected growth from the app with revenue forecasted of just under $2 million in the first year.
"With considerable assets in the business from the original model, the business has been able to pivot and shift customers, both salon and consumer side, quickly."
And she says continued investment in the business has supported the needs of the strategic roll out and the existing shareholder register has shown keen support. A final private equity round closes in mid August and a Series A round is expected to kick off around December of this year.
Crossan believes it has identified a crucial customer insight ("I need this right now but don't want to ring around") that will drive significant uptake of what is "a beautifully created, usable application".
"As a result, it will be able to fundamentally shift the way a customer set interact with an entire industry. The extensions and network effects from here are both obvious and plentiful, providing Flossie.com and its shareholders with confidence in the forecasted high growth year ahead of them."
She says the mind boggles at the possibilities and says it could be used in anything from pet care to wellness to mechanics and "all sorts of other trades".
She says it has already had a few approaches from other sectors who can see the potential in matching the consumer to the company.
"Uber is the company that's got on-demand really right. It's a $4 billion company in three years, so that's a pretty good growth curve. In this space it's not about booking appointments. It's about making it easier for them to get what they want when they want it."