Japan’s Popcorn now allows foreign visitors to book last-minute deals for salons



See the original story in Japanese.

Popcorn is a beauty salon-booking app for last-minute deals. The app offers discount deals up to 70% off for beauty salons for hair styling, nail art and care as well as eyelash extensions, in addition to relaxation and aesthetic salons, focused on allowing users to book a same-day or last-minute appointment for deals at salons in Tokyo’s busiest shopping districts such as Shibuya, Harajuku, Ebisu and Ginza. Since its launch back in February of 2015, the service is about to cover 1,000 salons, seeing an approximate 30% MoM growth in the number of bookings since late 2015.

Coubic, the company behind Popcorn, announced today that the app supports a multilingual interface to better serve international visitors to Japan, ever on the increase. Available for Android via Google Play or for desktop in English, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese and Korean, not to mention Japanese.

According to Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), more than 20 million tourists are expected to visit Japan this year, especially those from the East Asia region like China, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, which accounts for 70% of all visitors, are increasing at more than 30% every year. Due to the increase of individual tourists and repeating visitors, their consumption is expanding from buying products to experiencing services.

Among many tourist attractions, more foreign visitors are choosing to try beauty salons in Japan because of a high interest in their health and Japanese beauty. When a massage salon in Ginza used the app, for example, the monthly number of foreign customers increased sevenfold from a year ago. After this year’s beginning, the salon says not only Asian but also European customers are increasing. With the launch of the multilingual interface at this time, it will attract foreign visitors with the convenience of enabling online booking and in-advance credit card payments.

The Popcorn app initially supported booking a same-day appointment only, but then added a next-day appointment in response to user needs. By offering a special limited menu, many beauty salons participating in the app use have succeeded in gaining repeat customers while more than half the customers delivered to salons by the app are repeat customers. It appears that users are tired in making phone calls to make an appointment, like those using the app to find a new salon and book an appointment.

Coubic CEO Hiroshi Kuraoka elaborated:

Some male and female users have used our app about 30 to 40 times in three months. It was so surprising that some users recognized the convenience of online booking and use our app very frequently. We thought some users may feel resistance against credit card prepayments but many of them appear to accept that in return for receiving a limited menu for Popcorn users.

Providing users with rewards from salons in Tokyo plus selected areas in Fukuoka so far, the company will expand to other cities in Japan shortly, planning to curate salons in cities outside Japan as well. Leveraging the Coubic appointment management platform, the company intends to expand their business to other retailing industries beyond beauty salons.

Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy