How to Make more money for your salon by increasing retail sales

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.

Table Of Contents

Importance of Retail Sales For Salons
How To Correctly Present Salon Products to increase Sales
Salon Consideratins
Online Shop Considerations
Salon Staff Product Training & Incentivisation
Product Purchase Tracking
Key Salon Technologies to support Salon retail sales
Booking systems
Online shop
Mass email and SMS tools
Mobile Apps For Salons
Salon Marketing Techniques to Increase Salon Retail Sales
In-Salon Promotion
Online Consultations
Recommendation & Upsales
Salon Gift Cards
Abandon Cart
Digital Marketing Strategy for Salons
E-mail & SMS
Whatsapp for business
Social Media Marketing
Why Wouldn't you?

Importance of Retail Sales For Salons

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.  

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 To Correctly Present Salon Products to increase Sales

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.  

skin care products display

Salon Considerations

  1. Understand what your clients are interested in. You can achieve this by talking to them and getting feedback as well as looking at trends and developments on social media.
  2. If you are already making some product sales but want to increase your sales look at what types of products you sell most today and look for similar or complimentary products.
  3. Ensure you choose complementary brands / ranges, and as mentioned, limit these ranges to no more than 3.
  4. Most product ranges come in distinctive colours and packaging styles, make sure your chosen ranges work with your existing brand image and colour palette. It's no secret why most salons are decorated with neutral colours for this reason.
  5. Ensure that you choose shelving and racking that fits your image and style and ensure that these are located at key client sight lines around your salon but do not clutter or obstruct.
  6. Don’t forget lighting and the impact it can have during the daytime when you are open and at night when you are closed.
  7. Ensure you do not overstack products on your shelving and ensure that the labels all face outwards.
  8. Make sure the product is clean and free of dust.

Online Shop Considerations

  1. Ensure your photography is of high quality and reflects your Salon Branding
  2. Ensure that you have high-quality product images and descriptions.
  3. Ensure that you have categories for your products in your shop with your client in mind and that these can be cross-referenced. For example Brand Name - Sub-Range - Uses - who should use it etc. When the client searches or filters they can do so on brand, product type, product use or product impact.
  4. Make sure your online shop can enable “Shop Front” or “Specials” tagging so that these items appear on the shop opening page and are presented to the client as soon as they enter the online shop.
  5. Just like in the real world there are different types of online shops see the two examples below - one is very much wholesale and price driving while the other is lifestyle and brand. The impact you make by the online shop design is key and requires careful thought.

Salon Staff Product Training & Incentivisation

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:

  1. Some people are uncomfortable selling. You should recognise that it's a skill that does not come naturally to everyone.  
  2. You need to be supportive, your approach and tone will define the comfort levels of the team. Retail sales should be positioned as part of the overall service to the client, aftercare service, rather than a sales quota that they need to meet.
  3. They should have a deep understanding of each of the products including, ingredients, how to use and what frequency and what other products complement each other.

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.

Product Purchase Tracking

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.

Key Salon Technologies to support Salon retail sales

Booking systems

salon family no backround

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"

Online shop

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;-  

  • Tied Service Providers  These are provided by the manufacturers of some product brand ranges that have enabled a basic online shop that can be used by outlets that use and stock their products. With this option, you can only sell the range of products that the manufacturer offers so not suitable if you offer more than one brand.  The brand usually looks after orders and fulfilment and you get a percentage of the sale.
  • Independent Service Providers Specialist, subscription-based, Independent providers that provide a range or bundle of services, especially for salons that include the ability to create an online shop using their infrastructure. You are fully responsible for uploading products, their images and descriptions.
  • Facebook Facebook offers a basic online shop capability that backs onto your Facebook account and allows you to upload products that can be tagged in both your Facebook and Instagram profiles.
  • Purpose Build Software Providers Software platforms that have identified a need in a particular industry and provide software that fills it either free or with enhanced functionality for a small monthly charge. Their main goal is to trap you in a symbiotic relationship, usually, they make money either by charging a subscription fee or by levying a small fee for each translation they process on your behalf.
  • Built By Me Specialist platforms that enable you to self-build an online shop using their infrastructure usually for a monthly subscription fee.
  • Built For Me  This option has two flavours.
  1. Where you use the services of an experienced company that will use the platform technology mentioned above and configure a shop on their platform on your behalf.
  2. Where you engage the services of a web developer to build a purpose-built shop. This option gives you full discretion on the look and feel of the online shop.

These options have benefits and limitations and come with different cost points, skills requirements and ongoing support requirements.

Mass email and SMS tools

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.

Mobile Apps For Salons

mobile app

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.

Salon Marketing Techniques to Increase Salon Retail Sales In-Salon Promotion

Visual Information

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.

VIP Cards

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.

Product Prescriptions

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.  

Product Demonstrations

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.

Product Samples

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.

  • Give samples at live product demonstrations
  • Give samples when your client is leaving your salon
  • Send out complimentary samples with online shop purchases to encourage additional purchases and delight your customer by giving them something extra they were not expecting.


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

  • Limited by a date restriction
  • Limited to one per customer
  • Limited to new customers
  • Limited to specific customer types
  • Limited by order value
  • Limited to order quantity
  • Limited by product type

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.

When to use a discount

  • Products going out of date, left over gift sets or slow-moving products.
  • Exclusive discounts to clients that provide you with referrals
  • Introductory discounts to new customers which attract them to your online store
  • Bulk discounts (value or quantity) for purchases from your store.
  • Loyalty discounts to specific clients
  • Product Introduction discounts to introduce new ranges.
  • Free shipping
  • Seasonal discounts (Pre-Christmas Gift orders, Valentine etc)
  • Inactive or dormant Customers
  • Redeemed Online consultancy Fees (to spend on recommended products)
  • Returning to an Abandon Cart (discussed later in this article)

All these should be used in conjunction with a preplanned marketing strategy using email, SMS or social media.

Online Consultations

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.

Recommendation & Upsales

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.

  • Automatic: using available user data an adaptive strategy automatically recommends the most appropriate products
  • Similar products: Recommends items similar to the product currently being viewed
  • Bought together: Recommends complementary products that are typically purchased together with the product currently in-view
  • Most popular: Recommends the products that are currently most popular on a website
  • Most popular in category: Recommends the products that are currently most popular within a product category currently being viewed
  • User Affinity: Recommends products that match each visitor’s preferences and affinities, based on browsing behaviour (product views, cart additions, etc.)
  • Personalized: Recommends products based on product performance per lookalike audiences and visitors
  • Recently viewed: Recommends the products each visitor has recently viewed.
  • Recently purchased: Showcases products typical bought with an item a customer is viewing
  • Last purchased: Showcases items from a customer’s most recent purchase
  • Purchased with recent purchase: Recommends products typically bought with an item a user has recently purchased

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.

Salon Gift Cards

Gift card sales are an extremely important tool to enhance retail sales that have many additional benefits:-

  1. They improve cash flow because they are paid for in advance.
  2. You are leveraging your existing clients to identify new customers on your behalf.  
  3. They have to be spent in your shop
  4. A very high proportion of clients that use gift cards spend more than the face value of the voucher.  They perceive the money value of the gift voucher as “Free or extra”
  5. Between 10% - 20% will never be used and if they are there will be a residual balance

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.

Abandon Cart

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.


In summary

  1. Additional (or hidden) costs
  2. Poor delivery or return policies
  3. Overcomplicated ordering and checkout processes
  4. Payment processing problems
  5. Technical bugs and glitches

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.

Digital Marketing Strategy for Salons

It is very important that you design your email communications following some key principles, Hubspot a leading marketing tool lays out the following principles

  1. Craft a strong subject line.
  2. Write an attention-grabbing pre-header.
  3. Be concise.
  4. Keep your email on-brand.
  5. Think about your layout.
  6. Personalize every email.
  7. Incorporate unique visual content.
  8. Don’t be afraid to use emojis.
  9. Use a responsive design.
  10. Optimize your email with calls to action.

Read the full article here

E-mail & SMS

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

Whatsapp for business

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.

Social Media Marketing

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.

Why Wouldn't you?

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.

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