The practice of booking salon services is going the way of making restaurant reservations or hiring a private driver — if StyleSeat has anything to do with it.
This deal is key for StyleSeat to move into the salon market, especially in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles, and will give StyleSeat access to BeautyBooked’s collaboration with Allure, which helps readers vet and book appointment’s through the magazine’s Web site. (For now, only BeautyBooked salons will appear on the Allure BeautyBooked Salon & Spa Booker.)
StyleSeat acts as a booking agent to beauty professionals in that it helps stylists acquire new customers, who can browse using factors such as type of service, scheduling availability, Instagram photos, customer reviews, specialty and geographic location. It lets customers book and pay through the app. The platform is free for stylists; it charges a 2.75 percent transaction fee to cover credit card processing costs, and lets stylists pay for a higher placement in search. Going forward, said a company spokesperson, StyleSeat plans to charge stylists and salons a percentage when StyleSeat sends them a new client.
According to stats shared by StyleSeat, stylist revenue grows 70 percent in the first 15 months they join StyleSeat, and they receive, on average, 27 extra bookings each month. There are more than 350,000 professionals and 16,000 cities represented on StyleSeat’s Web site and mobile application.
While StyleSeat currently only offers online booking, payments and marketing for independent stylists, this acquisition is its first step toward expanding to meet the needs of salons.
“While we specialize in independent professionals, we’re excited to expand to also support salons and spas — a step forward in our mission to power a discovery and booking experience for everyone,” said StyleSeat chief executive officer and cofounder Melody McCloskey. “The acquisition of BeautyBooked was a natural progression for us to deliver on our vision of becoming the OpenTable for the entire beauty industry.”
Since being founded in 2011 and winning TechCrunch Disrupt’s start-up competition that year, StyleSeat has attracted $39 million in funding and has grown to more than 80 employees. In 2015, the company experienced 100 percent year-over-year growth and celebrated more than 44 million appointments booked to date. It introduced a co-marketing partnership with L’Oreal in 2014 that helps promote L’Oreal products and the salons and stylists who distribute them.
Mobile bookings make up three quarters of all appointments and nearly a third of appointments are booked within one day of a previous appointment, showing users like the free service enough to try it again quickly. Haircuts make up 18 percent of total services booked, and other hair, spa, nail and makeup services are also popular, according to McCloskey.
For her part, BeautyBooked ceo Hillary Hutcheson said the company’s salon partners will benefit from StyleSeat’s customer base, technology and the L’Oreal partnership. BeautyBooked’s five employees will join the StyleSeat team and drive expansion into the salon market, especially New York City.
For now, the plan is for BeautyBooked to continue to operate in its current form, but, according to a company spokesperson, eventually the two will be combined into one unified platform that fulfills its mission of being the consumer beauty and wellness marketplace. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.