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Flossie eyes Australia and the US with its ‘Uber of beauty’ app

On demand hair and beauty services site Flossie.com has launched an app for requesting, booking and paying for beauty appointments and will hone its offering in New Zealand and Australia before tackling a vast US proposition.

The lightbulb moment a couple of years ago for founder and CEO Jenene Crossan was adopting an ‘I want, who wants me?’ business model of the ilk used by car sharing service Uber.com.

“When we started out [as Flossie.com], we couldn’t just rock up to the salon and say, can we be integrated and be fully on board as a partner? It’s the same at the customer end. It’s hard to say, ‘download this on your phone’ when you don’t know anything about us. In the last few years being the Wotif of hair and beauty has enabled us to build up that trust.”

Flossie.com’s website was launched in 2012 to sell quiet-time appointments online, with customers paying up front and Flossie acting as an agent and taking 30 percent commission. It has 165 salons and 12,000 members.

Crossan says Flossie Concierge isn’t about being another booking software tool, but aims to meet the needs of consumers in world where people increasingly leave bookings until the last minute, then just want an appointment on the same day. Salons that sign up get a desktop app to receive requests for a booking, and can respond with a price.

“I realised what we were doing was what Uber is doing, but for beauty. “Where we want to make an impact is the customer funnel to provide service and convenience to the customer and the business.”

The iPhone app, developed by its internal developer team, is live in beta, with 100 VIP Flossie.com customers given access to test it and request enhancements. An Android app is due next week.

There’s a billion dollar market opportunity in New Zealand, where estimates of the number of salons ranges to as many as 6000, Crossan says. But a large proportion of these are home businesses or one person outfits and she says Flossie will “probably tap out at around 600” businesses here.

Recently returned from a US visit, her ambition was to break into that market next. But with the size of salon and spa chains there so much bigger than in New Zealand, she’ll focus on “runs on the board” in Australia to make its case stateside more compelling.

Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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