Tired of making calls to book your spa therapy sessions or salon appointments only to have them reject your request? Meet ReservO, an online platform to browse, discover and read customer feedback and make advance reservations with instant confirmation of desired slots.
Malaysia-based ReservO plans to target all service industries that require prior appointments, but is starting with the beauty and wellness sector as of now.
Besides providing convenience to consumers, the startup also aspires to provide an alternative platform for beauty and wellness salons to build online presence beyond the current conventional advertisement, coupon deals and marketing approach.
“Many merchants and salons who are on board with ReservO find that they have no choice but to pay the high commission to deal sites for every coupon sold,” said Co-founder Chai Yee. Within ReservO, merchants can create deals and promotion to retain and attract more consumers without additional cost.
The startup story
With seed funding from Cradle’s CIP150, the company was set up in March 2013 by Co-founders Denis Lim, Yee and Jarod Law. Every weekend Lim would see his fiance Yee go through the trouble of booking her spa or massage session. Most of the time, she would have to stay on the phone for confirmation and not be able to get her desired slot in the end. The same process was repeated when she needed to reschedule. Lim felt there had to be a better way to reduce the hassle and simplify the process.
He developed a business case and submitted an application to Cradle, who then contacted him within the next month and funded the business two months later. From that point, Chai Yee decided to leave her job at Accenture and focus on their startup.
Besides funding, Cradle has also provided ReservO with business mentor Chris Leong.
How far has it come?
The service was launched in February 2014 and the startup is currently in the customer acquisition phase, trying to get as many merchants as possible to sign up. When asked whether it is challenging, Lim replied with the old adage “Monkey see monkey do”, explaining that the first few merchants were tough but the cost per acquisition decreases along the way when the team has more experience and also when the merchants realise that they are losing out in comparison to their competitors. ReservO is still trying to penetrate multi-chain stores; it is taking some time as they have longer approval processes and more decision-makers.
To-date, the firm has closed 10 organic bookings via the system by merchants, friends, family and mutual friends. The service is free as of now and the payment gateway will be started only later this year.
Lim has a vision for ReservO but is unable to execute due to monetary constraints. On receiving funding, the team wants to enhance ReservO from just a booking platform to a complete customer resource management platform. He explained that with the data that it is capturing, merchant can harvest it so as to better understand customer spending behaviour and to have more relevant targeted promotions. By analysing past trends, merchant can also better optimise resources during periods of slow sales, he said.
In the immediate future, priority is on launching the payment gateway. ReservO has concluded partnership with an e-commerce payment solution provider, hoping to complete integration by end of June. The startup would also complete its text messaging API for more unified notification for both, merchants and consumers.
Though the team is meeting monthly merchant acquisition targets, with current traction being 60 merchants and close to 500 services listed since February, creating brand awareness continues to be a challenge. ReservO has just started web marketing and is also participating in Malaysia’s largest International Beauty Expo this May. It targets to acquire 600 merchants by the end of the year.