Melody McCloskey launched StyleSeat in 2011 to empower beauty and barber professionals to successfully do what they love. Helping drive revenue for these entrepreneurs, of which 75% are female and 50% are people of color, is at the core of StyleSeat’s mission. From the start, StyleSeat has offered an online marketplace where clients can find new stylists and salon management software that allows beauty professionals to leverage subscription-based tools for online booking and schedule management. As StyleSeat rapidly acquired new users, the team heard from stylists and clients alike that cumbersome payment processes were creating friction in the salon experience.
“We wanted to remove the awkwardness of the payments transaction and make it a seamless experience, where StyleSeat stores clients’ payment information and, after an appointment, clients can just leave,” said Greg Burch,
chief technology officer at StyleSeat. “Then it’s also easier for clients to rebook, pay for future services, and leave tips.”
When evaluating options for embedding payments into its marketplace and software, StyleSeat quickly realized that becoming a payment facilitator wasn’t feasible for its lean engineering team. To create better payment experiences for stylists and clients without compromising the continued development of other parts of their platform, StyleSeat turned to Stripe.
Stripe has helped StyleSeat unlock growth across multiple dimensions of its business. With Stripe Connect, StyleSeat launched StyleSeat Payments, an embedded payments offering that allows clients to seamlessly discover, book, and pay for appointments directly through the StyleSeat app or website. With StyleSeat Payments, StyleSeat not only improved experiences for both stylists and clients, but it also created a powerful new revenue stream by adding a slight transaction markup.
StyleSeat also integrated Stripe Billing to power the recurring subscription payments that stylists pay for access to StyleSeat’s software. Stripe Radar detects and prevents fraud across billions of dollars of transactions. Internally, Stripe Sigma gives StyleSeat access to advanced reporting with detailed visibility into payments, revenue, activity, and more. As StyleSeat continues to grow, the product team plans to explore opportunities available through Stripe’s embedded financial services offerings, including financing, issuing, and even banking-as-a-service.
Stripe’s comprehensive and growing suite of options gives StyleSeat easy access to new features without heavy dependencies on StyleSeat’s engineering resources. Burch pointed to Instant Payouts as a great example of StyleSeat benefitting from Stripe’s rapid pace of innovation. With minimal development effort, StyleSeat launched Instant Payouts in a matter of weeks, allowing beauty professionals to cash out instantly to buy supplies or fund big purchases, even on weekends and holidays.
“We considered other payments vendors and even becoming our own payments facilitator, but I don’t want to build a payments system; that’s not why I joined StyleSeat,” added Burch. “Stripe is allowing us to scale, develop new products, optimize payments, and build more trust with clients and beauty professionals.”
Since launching, StyleSeat has helped beauty professionals book over 100 million appointments and manage $10.6 billion in revenue. Stripe’s suite of payments products lets StyleSeat easily scale by simplifying the client experience and enabling its entrepreneurial customers to grow and expand their businesses.
$10.6B in revenue for beauty professionals through optimized pricing and advanced booking management
StyleSeat uses Stripe to take the friction out of the payments process. Stylists can sign up instantly for StyleSeat Payments through a fully embedded onboarding flow built within the Styleseat application, and Stripe takes care of the payments “Know Your Customer” (KYC) obligations behind the scenes. Once set up, stylists can accept credit card payments from clients directly through the app, easily track their balances, and cash out instantly.
StyleSeat offers a smart pricing algorithm that dynamically adjusts prices during high demand, so stylists can charge clients optimized prices. StyleSeat stylists can also automatically enforce no-show and cancellation fees—StyleSeat estimates it has saved professionals nearly $2 million in 2020 with this feature—or offer premium appointments at off hours. Ultimately, what drives the stylists’ growth drives StyleSeat’s growth, since it takes a portion of the transaction volume that passes through its platform.
“StyleSeat’s percentage of booked appointments has grown six or seven times over the last few years, because Stripe makes it easier for both our stylists and their clients.”
Forty percent more tip revenue for stylists with a simple, streamlined payments experience
Tipping face-to-face can be uncomfortable, which often leads to smaller tips, especially when clients pay in cash. StyleSeat takes the pressure out of tipping by letting clients pay up front or at a later time through StyleSeat Payments, powered by Stripe. The result is 40% higher tips on average for stylists.
“It's always been key for us to offer easy tipping within the platform, and Stripe makes it possible. Clients can either automatically set their tip amount or round up instead of down,” Burch shared.
Faster development of market-leading products
With fewer than 200 total employees, StyleSeat’s lean engineering team doesn’t have the resources to build a complete payments infrastructure or become a payments facilitator on their own. Stripe gave StyleSeat a fast, secure, easy-to-implement payments solution while also providing the scale and innovation to offer more ways for more stylists to grow their businesses.
“In terms of developer productivity and happiness, nothing compares to Stripe. Thanks to Stripe’s robust documentation, easy testing environment, and extensive support, we went from a small marketplace with a small percentage of transactions to a large marketplace with a large percentage of transactions,” concluded Burch.
Stripe has always been the easy portion of building payments, and they’ve been a trusted partner.