An Irish company is leading the way in moving one of the few remaining industries from telephone and face-to-face bookings into the online market – hair and beauty treatments.
Over the past decade online booking services have become the go to place for consumers wishing to order food, make hotel reservations, search for tradesmen and countless more everyday things.
However, for some reason, the hair and beauty sector has not yet made the transition online.
An Irish start-up called Beautifi aims to change that and become the market leader in the process.
They have set up a website which will allow consumers to search for a hair or beauty salon near them, and then book their appointment online.
Beautifi charge salons a monthly fee of €25 to advertise their services on the site.
Richard Spence, founder of Beautifi, said: “Our own industry research has shown that that up to 70% of bookings are still offline and over 85% of salons are still unable to deal with online bookings.
“To me it is crazy that only 1% of (salon) bookings happen online. That’s not from a lack of customers wanting to book online, they just can’t because there are no facilities to do so.”
Beautifi recently announced that they had completed the purchase of UK website SalonAddicts, which will add 1,000 new salons on their books and also give them a kick-start in the British market.
Spence explained that as well as making the booking process easier for customers, the service also eases the workload for the salons themselves, many of which are privately owned and ran by small teams.
“Salons always need new customers and are looking to tap into the next generation of 16- to 18-year-olds. This age group get nearly everything they need online so it makes sense for salons to be there.
“However, salons are typically small businesses and owned by the person who runs it. They don’t have the time to run their online presence.”
Beautifi received investment of €45,000 from Enterprise Ireland and the NDRC to help with start-up costs. They are now the largest provider of online bookings for salons in Ireland, and hope to expand into the UK and Europe as soon as possible.
They forecast they will take €10m worth of salon bookings this year, a significant rise on €2m last year.