See the original story in Japanese.
Tokyo-based Coubic (pronounced ‘coo-bic’), a startup known for a freemium scheduling and appointment booking solution under the same name, recently launched a new iOS app offering special deals on last-minute bookings for beauty salons, called Popcorn. The Popcorn app is available for iOS 7.1 and above on iTunes AppStore.
The app offers discount deals up to 70% off for beauty salons for hair styling, nail art and care, eyelash extensions, as well as relaxation and aesthetic salons, focused on allowing users to book a same-day or last-minute appointment. The service coverage is limited to salons in Tokyo’s busiest shopping districts such as Ebisu, Shibuya, Daikanyama, Omotesando, Roppongi, and Kichijoji. Users can pay via the app when booking an appointment, so they do not need to check the bill after the appointment.
By inviting potential customers during vacant time with an easy operation, the app allows merchants to promote their business or cultivate sales channels without additional costs. Leveraging the knowledge that the company has gained through operating the Coubic app, the Popcorn app also gives an easy-to-use interface for merchants to manage which time slots on the same day or the next day they can accept potential customers using special deals.
Coubic CEO Hiroshi Kuraoka explained:
We have acquired users of the Coubic app via web-based marketing rather than outbound sales efforts. For the Popcorn app, we visited many salons and explained to owners how they can benefit from our service. It can be called “our best curated list of beauty salons.”
Recruit’s HotPepper Beauty is a rival in this space. What differs the Popcorn app from its rival includes a focus on same-day or last minute booking, while its rival allows users to book an appointment several weeks in advance. Relying on a storeowner’s operation, booking availability for the day is updated in the morning or at the end of the previous day.
Hence, privately managed or family-run salons can easily set special deals in the time slots that suddenly become open, or on rainy days when customers are likely to cancel their appointment. In contrast with Hotpepper Beauty that lets merchants handle payments at their storefronts, Popcorn requests users to pay at the time of booking in the app so that merchants can minimize the risk of possible appointment cancellation.
Coubic targets a wide range of people as users for the new app, from women who want to adjust their hair to office workers who want to get a massage after work. Seeing a usage trend, the company may expand coverage beyond Tokyo to the rest of Japan.
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy and Kurt Hanson