A complete guide for hair and beauty salons on how to boost online and in-salon retail sales by 70%. Boosting Salon retail sales in this very competitive industry can make the difference between succeeding or failing. The return Vs effort is much greater than anything else you will do to generate revenue in your salon and while there might be a learning curve and some initial effort to get going, the rewards will be well worth it.
It is generally accepted that salon retail sales should account for at least 15% & 20% of overall turnover, but according to Liz Mckeon, founder of the International Salon Business School, your retail sales can be as high as 70%. However, many Salon owners simply do not give retail sales the focus and priority that it deserves and so are leaving money on the table.
The National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF) publish statistics on the average earnings of its members and find that 67% of small to medium-sized salons turnover €100k or less. So a potential €70k is being left on the table. The investment required to ramp up your retail sales is very modest in comparison to the return. It will require an initial investment to purchase stock, display shelving and add an online shop to your website. Then you need to train your staff in the products you propose to sell. It is well known that the margins you can earn on retail sales far exceed those earned for treatment services. This means once you have made your initial investment the incremental return is huge when placed into the context of your core business.
When considering how to optimise retail sales you need to consider the two key channels available to you. These are your on-premises sales via your salon and your virtual salon via a shop on your website. You need to ensure that you synchronize the presentation of both these channels as you build your retail offering so that the look and feel are in keeping with your brand however your client access it. When marketing products it is important to develop themes that your client is exposed to consistently as they walk around your physical salon, engage with you on social media or interact with your website and online shop.
It is essential that you do not carry too many ranges as this will tie up money unnecessarily and run the risk of profit leakage for items that do not turnover very quickly. It is equally important that the ranges you choose reflect the brand and the specific audiences you are targeting. For example, you do not want to stock a range popular with younger people when your target audience is mature women using products and treatments aimed at reducing the impact of ageing.
How you present your products both online and physical in your salon is crucial to optimising sales. Professional beauty has produced this authoritative guide on product placement in your salon and is well worth the time to read. It is key that the design you use for the in-salon presentation is replicated in your online store. It is crucial that the
branding is consistent no matter how your products are accessed.
Your Salon team members are an important part of your retail sales strategy. In the end, people buy products from people they like. Each team member is in a unique position to either leverage an existing bond or creates a new one with your clients. They should have the skills and knowledge to make professional yet tactful recommendations in a non-aggressive way that does not impact negatively the client's experience during an appointment. VITAL Plus have this excellent article on staff training on how to “Train salon staff into a powerful sales force” with regard to retail sales. Key points that you need to be mindful of can be summarised as:
4. You should look at a commission scheme to ensure that your team members are compensated for the sale and have a stake.
5. You should encourage the team to seek client feedback and act accordingly.
6. You should actively seek and respond to the team's feedback.
Tracking the products your client buys from the salon is a key strategy in understanding who is buying what from you and enables you to backtrack to find out if they are happy with the product results. This in turn informs your future buying decisions for your salon as well as facilitates a discussion with a returning client and provides an opportunity to advise alternatives and complementary products during a subsequent treatment. Many of the salon point-of-sale systems available to salons today will do this for you as built-in functionality. Reviewing past product purchases should be incorporated into the prep each member of staff undertakes before the appointment commences.
Many booking systems support retail product sales and also come with an inventory management capability. You should be able to set up suppliers, assign to them a list of products that you purchase from them, and set the initial stock levels, a bought-in cost and a customer price. These systems typically provide a suite of reports, so you can monitor what products are being sold, and how frequently, and will also track sales commissions earned by your team. Essentially all the functionality you need to properly manage your retail sales within your salon, usually for free or a small monthly fee. For more information see our e-book "The Ultimate Salon Booking System Guide"
The other half of the equation is your online shop. There are many technical options available to you, each with pros and cons, that will provide an online retail capability for your salon. All of them can be accessed via a URL link on your current website.
we have summarised the options below;-
These options have benefits and limitations and come with different cost points, skills requirements and ongoing support requirements.
One of the by-products of deploying a salon booking system and/or an online shop is that you will begin to accumulate quality information regarding your client's preferences and interests. However, before you capture this information you must obtain your client's permission. A simple easy to understand guide to your responsibilities under GDPR and how you use information is published by the Citizen's Advice Bureau.
By either booking or buying from you, your client will inevitably provide you with contact information, details of what products or treatments they like to use and when they last made a purchase. Once authorised this information can be used in your marketing initiatives. Many of the popular technologies on the market today supporting salons already have sophisticated functionality that enables you to generate and send marketing emails & SMS messages to your clients. In addition, they will also capture as part of the processes of booking a treatment or buying products the client authorisation or “opt-in” so that you can legitimately use their information for this purpose.
Alternatively, you can export the data from these platforms and import it into one of the many mailing platforms that are available to you very cheaply. These mailing platforms provide the capability to develop very rich high-quality campaigns for mass emails & SMS. Importantly they also offer detailed analytical information about the response your campaign generated.
With the emergence of a new technology called progressive web applications or PWAs, it has now become possible to create mobile phone apps very easily and quickly. These apps are essentially mini-websites saved onto your phone's home screen. They either connect your client directly to a mobile-optimised online shop on your website or have self-contained shops built within the app itself. They can be built cheaply by various providers or by yourself using easy-to-use module technology and are an excellent alternative for very small salons.
It is also important to communicate to your clients that you actually have an online shop. Well-placed posters in your Salon that provide details of products that you stock can be used to inform your clients that they can be bought directly from your online shop. High-quality images of glamorous models will gain attention and the engagement of your captive audience. Prominently displaying your shop web address is preferable by using a QR code where the user can use their phone camera to link to the site and save it down onto their phone's home screen. There are various free technologies that convert your site or mobile app location into a QR code for free. Make sure they are high quality and put them into a good quality frame. Your local brand representative should be able to provide official high-quality brand resources for you that you can use for free.
For less than €50 you can go to one of the many online printers where you can create a “VIP Card”. These are in fact postcards where you can upload a series of attractive images of the products and ranges you carry in your online shop. Then in a prominent position, you add your online shop's web address or better still add a URL QR barcode (create one here) and insert it into one of the corners. Finally, you can add a text box that contains a discount code, e.g. “15% Discount” with an offer that can be used at the checkout in your online shop.
A variation of the idea above is using the product prescriptions concept. This is a really great way to formalise product recommendations as a result of a salon consultation. The staff member who has performed the treatment and has discussed the client's ongoing requirements writes a product recommendation on a “Product Prescription”.
This provides an opportunity to discuss with the client the benefits of a specific product or range and how it should be used. The prescription can then be redeemed at checkout and/or used later, potentially for repeat orders, on your online shop. This has the benefit of removing the sales pressure from the treatment session and enabling a more detailed conversation regarding the products, with the client and their needs with a different person which can be conducted in a “lounge” setting and held with a areas with a person who may have a different skill set. The prescription should prominently display your online shop’s web address either in long form or via a QR barcode.
You should take the time to properly design your “prescriptions and get them professionally printed to give them a more authentic “air”. While you may currently make most of your retail sales in Salon this will educate clients that they don’t have to wait until the next appointment to get products.
Although these are extremely hard work to organise they can be incredibly effective at attracting new customers and increasing the brand loyalty of existing customers. Best when organised in partnership with a distributor of a specific product and who will likely provide resources and samples for you to use. Make sure you take plenty of pictures and videos which you can then post to social media later or even better stream the event live on Youtube. Stephanie Mitchell has a detailed article on how to go about this here.
When buying a product your client is facing two dilemmas a) The risk of trying something new and unproven and b) paying for a product sometimes significant cost for something that does not work for them or that they do not like. The answer to both these questions is to provide a free sample where the client can try the product before purchase. When offering samples to your client it is important not to overwhelm them with too many items and especially items that are not appropriate for their hair or skin. There is not much research work on how effective fee samples are in increasing salon product sales but in research, other industries suggest it can be up to 30% and add 2% to your turnover.
If used correctly discounts are an important part of your retail product marketing strategy, when and how they are used is crucial otherwise you may well succeed in driving up your sales but at the cost of reducing your overall profit. The NHBF has an excellent article on the pros and cons of using a discount strategy and is well worth a read. All your discount offers should have a restriction in some way
Never discount products that are already selling well or products that have a low margin, to begin with, except in the case of slow-moving products. Discounting some products actually reduces more than the financial value. Premium brands that are expensive do not reduce their prices because it ultimately damages the brand perception of a premium product, look at Apple, ever seen them offer products in a sale? With premium products where you do not want to offer a discount, you can offer a free complimentary product with each sale or offer free shipping. Do not discount habitually at the same time or on the same products or your clients will learn to wait for the start of your discount cycle and restrict their buying of these products to these times - think January sales.
All these should be used in conjunction with a preplanned marketing strategy using email, SMS or social media.
Selling services online via your salon shop is a growing trend particular after the closures experience by salons during the Covid pandemic which forced salon owners to get creative in developing new sources of revenue. This has led to the emergence of online consultations using their Salon webshop “digital services” capabilities. This service is particularly effective for beauty salons that can recommend products to clients via Zoom, phone or email according to the client's preference after the client has uploaded photographs and these have been reviewed. The key here is to charge for this service but make it clear that the FULL amount is redeemable against beauty products in the online shop or for treatments that Your Salon Therapist will advise for you as part of your online consultation.
We discussed earlier how important the role of recommendations and up-sales techniques used by your staff are in driving in-salon retail products sales during salon client visits. This can also be achieved automatically via your online shop. There are many different techniques as the list below indicates all of which can be used in conjunction with a discount strategy.
Your online shop may not have all these configurations but most of the leading online shop platforms can provide at least some of these alternatives. Spending time getting your online shop to make these recommendations will result in a higher spend per visitor.
Gift card sales are an extremely important tool to enhance retail sales that have many additional benefits:-
However, you will need to ensure that your online shop can support the administration that is required when you issue a Gift Card. This includes tracking how many and what value of cards have been issued by you and tracking residual balances and expiratory dates. Most subscription shop platforms can provide this but many “bespoke” shops cannot.
All online shops experience an abandoned cart which is where a client has accessed your webshop selected an item (s) to purchase and abandon or left your website without completing the process and making payment. There are many reasons why this may be the case all listed in this excellent article “10 Strategies For Dealing With Abandoned Cart” together with some very detailed strategies, you can take to try and recover or save the sale.
Once you have addressed the above concerns most online shop platforms will give you the capability to create an email targeted specifically at this situation reminding the buyer that they have items left in the store and offering an incentive for them to go back and complete the sale.
It is very important that you design your email communications following some key principles, Hubspot a leading marketing tool lays out the following principles
Read the full article here
New customer - welcome email or SMS thanking the customer for their business and offering an incentive to return to your online store.
Inactive customers - email or SMS offering a discount to entice them back.
Loyal customers - Offering VIP service, discount or promotion
Reminders - Communications that note that it is now time to re-buy a product
Newsletters - Send tips & tricks, news, gossip, and updates to your clients about the latest products and how to use them.
Blog - Nearly every website has a blog but very few people update it. This is a great opportunity to post videos of the latest styles and treatments and then notify your clients of the products used and where they can obtain them.
Stephanie Mitchell from Sunnystorm Marketing has a great piece full of ideas and information for salons - The 6 types of emails you should be sending from your salon
Understandably the use of Whatsapp for marketing purposes is growing steadily and recently Whatsapp launched its business service for small and medium-sized businesses. You easily convert your own personal WhatsApp account into a business account and therefore use your own mobile phone number. When you have done this you can create
marketing campaigns and auto-response replies, showcase a product catalogue and reach your existing clients via a medium that they use daily and are very receptive to. This blog, How to Use WhatsApp for Business: Tips and Tools, from the Hootsuite marketing platform, gives a great overview.
Perhaps the most important marketing source that you can use to enhance your sales with marketing is to use social media because Instagram and TikTok are so visual they are probably the best platforms to use.
To be effective in these mediums you will need to build up your followers and maintain a fairly disciplined posting schedule. Given this can be a large amount of work for one individual it's best to encourage the whole salon team to participate. There are many sources of information on the internet on how to build up your following but this one Get more Instagram followers with these 10 tips to grow your real audience is a good starting point why not watch a few Youtube Videos
Once you have built up your exclusive following you can leverage your posts to Tag products on Instagram and 'links' in Insta Stories that bring customers directly into your shop. Once again it is important to note that this is only possible if you are on certain “shop platforms” and should factor heavily into what technology you use.
Creating a Retail sales strategy for your Salon to drive retail sales is the single most effective way to make your Salon more profitable with the least amount of investment in time and money. If you select the right technologies you can make life so much easier. You can minimise most of the administration and management involved while at the same time offering a more comprehensive and expansive service to your clients. However, sales do not happen on their own. You need to ensure that you have addressed all the elements necessary to enable your success, but once you have invested this time, it will continue to pay dividends to you and your clients year after year.