Buying In: How Salons Are Improving Their Retailing Efforts

Retail sales are always a source of conversation in the salon and spa space. After all, no one becomes a hair stylist or esthetician so that they can do sales. Competition from online and big box retailers in recent years has put pressure on salons and spas with retail operations. Still, many customers enjoy the convenience and assurance of buying a product through their salon, backed by the recommendation of their trusted stylist.

Salons have found retailing to be an opportunity for consistent income. Before the pandemic, retail sales were responsible for an average of 7 to 15 percent of total sales at a salon, according to Salon Today. Retail sales also have a higher profit margin than service sales. During COVID-19, many salons have pivoted to retail sales. As highlighted by Salon Today, retailing has provided salons with a steady source of income as their businesses were shutdown. The COVID-19 shutdowns have highlighted the importance of strong retail practices.

If you want to make the most of retail, where do you start? Here are a few practices with potential to encourage successful salon retailing:

  1. Ask questions: Learning more about the customer and their routine can establish what their needs are. Questions about what products they use, how often they wash and treat their hair, and how they like their hair styled can go a long way toward establishing a customer profile. This profile will make it easier to determine what products will be of use to them.
  1. Study your products: Many customers will want to understand why a certain product may be a better solution to their problems than the one they’re currently using. Salon professionals should take the time to study their products so they can properly explain the benefits of the products they offer.
  1. Offer expertise instead of selling: Rather than directly selling clients, use their needs to help them construct a plan. For example, if a client mentions their hair feels coarse or rough, then recommend a shampoo or hair product that addresses their needs and provide instructions for best implementing this product. That way, the client feels as though they’re being supported and not sold to.
  1. Stock exclusive products: Salon owners should consider forming exclusive partnerships with brands they trust. This positions the product as unique to the customer and provides the salon with a means of differentiating from their retailing competitors.
  1. Run promotions: Seasonal promotions and discounts can boost interest in a salon’s retail offerings. Once the client gets comfortable with a product, they may feel more inclined to purchase it down the road, regardless of whether it is on sale at the time.

With proper planning and education, retailing can boost a salon’s total sales numbers and create stronger relationships with clients. When making any significant changes to operations, contact your insurance provider — as your operations change, so too may your insurance needs.

Kathy Lopez, Account Manager for SASSI, the Salon and Spa Specialty Insurance program at Brownyard Group. She can be reached at klopez@brownyard.com.

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