Offering salon retail can be profitable, and there are many salon inventory tips and tricks to help you succeed.
Why is this important? The average salon retail sales percentage ranges from 10-25% of total revenue. Perhaps that doesn’t sound like much. However, by offering top-selling salon products, around 50% of each sale goes to the salon. Even after factoring in overhead, hair salon retail sales can be the most profitable.
10 Salon Inventory Tips & Tricks
The Benefits of Salon Retail Beyond Profit
Selling retail in the salon and spa is also the perfect means to prolong the longevity of your services and keep your clients looking salon-fresh. After all, if your clients look and feel good about themselves well after they’ve left the salon, it’s a reflection on you.
When it comes to your in-salon retail inventory, there is a delicate balance of stocking just enough product to appeal to your clients and move from your shelves and too much that it breaks the bank. Below are some suggestions for finding the right salon retail inventory balance.
Find Salon Retail Brands That You Love & That Love You Back
Only carry the professional brands that you genuinely believe in. After all, your integrity is on the line. That’s why it’s important to find brands that offer the quality, performance, and manufacturer backing that you and your clients deserve.
The ideal products deliver on their promise, have an appealing scent, and are affordable to those using them. The ultimate manufacturer believes in maintaining a certain level of quality, offers education and technical support, and stands behind their products and the salons that use them.
Know Your Salon/Spa Clientele
Your brands of choice should also appeal to your clientele. Certain demographics have specific leanings when it comes to retail products. Some people prefer high-end packaging or high consumer recognizability. Bigger, more recognizable brands would be the best option in this case.
Some people want a modern approach with their packaging, while others only care what the product does – how it performs when it comes to at-home care and styling. In many cases, scent plays a large role. Such qualities are met with diverse and varied brand options to suit the needs of this demographic.
Other people want a more artisan approach to the products they buy. Recycled packaging, simple branding, and organic and vegan formulations may fit better in this case.
Possess a Singular Vision
It’s up to you if you want to choose one brand or several for your salon. Naturally, each manufacturer would prefer that you only carry their products. To incentivize exclusivity of one brand or multiple brands by one manufacturer, the companies may offer discounts or other perks.
You’ll want to weigh the advantages against the disadvantages before becoming exclusive to one brand/manufacturer. Do your research on the brands and ask other salon owners who became a “lifestyle salon” or brand ambassador to see how it worked out for them. Ask about the pros and cons and what they would do differently, given a choice.
Is More Always Better?
When it comes to the amount of product or number of brands for your salon retail, ask yourself, “how much is too much?”
The last thing you want to do is overwhelm your clients with too many choices, not to mention tying up too much money into your inventory. Having more than a few main brands does translate to increased expense. First, there’s the cost of the product itself. In many cases, brands or their distributors may have minimums that your salon needs to stock in order to carry the line at all.
There’s also the space product takes up within your salon to consider. Whether you’re renting or own your space, it all translates to a per-square-foot cost that needs to be factored into your decision. Before stocking wall-to-wall salon retail shelves with brands galore, weigh out if part of your designated retail space would be better used as another service station.
Then there’s the upkeep that goes along with having a large inventory. Think dusting, stocking, straightening, and protecting your products from theft on a daily basis. This vigilance would need to happen no matter how much product you carry, but the work involved is proportionate to the number of bottles on your shelves.
Find the Right Balance
A reasonable amount of variety is indeed something consumers appreciate. That’s why you’ll want to consider carrying a small array of products that fit the needs of your clientele and give them some options.
For example, if your salon has a large part of the clientele with color services, you’d want to stock an assortment of color care products—likely the companion after-care products to the color line or lines your salon uses. The same is true for other chemical processes such as texture or smoothing services. They are all high-ticket services that require aftercare, so be ready with the right products to protect the longevity of your services. It’s not just an opportunity to sell retail; it’s a necessity to protect your client’s investment.
Then there’s hair care for each hair type, texture, and condition to consider. You’ll also want a good styling line. And, don’t forget specialty products for hair loss and scalp treatments. Does your salon have enough call for such products to stock them, or would they be a better as-needed offering on your online store? That way, you don’t have to physically carry the line but can still benefit from the sale.
The best advice with retail is to stock just enough selection and quantity to have the products your clients need and want without your shelving looking sparse. But not so much that you’re stuck with more product than you can move. You want to grow into your retail and build up as you go along. Try not to worry as much about having something for every single possible need. Instead, consider any client requests as a learning experience that helps drive your product offerings.
Pull the Plug on Slow Movers
Only keep in stock those items that have enough of a demand. If you find yourself with slow movers or products that you simply can’t sell, get rid of them. Ask to return them to the distributor or manufacturer for credit or blow them out as a clearance item well before any expiration dates. Your shelves should be stocked mostly with in-demand products that have sell-ability with your clientele. In this case, space is money!
Merchandise Your Merch
Be protective of your inventory and treat products as a valuable commodity. That includes keeping shelves clean, neat, and looking stocked at all times.
When a product sells, move up the next ones in line. If your stock is running low, find ways to change up the display to disguise it. And always keep your shelving free of dust and any product on them proudly facing forward. This level of pride in your inventory speaks volumes to your clients and adds value and credibility to the products themselves.
Also, take the time to dress up your salon retail display area for holidays and the various seasons. Showcase new or featured products with eye-catching displays and designs that rotate out every 3-4 weeks. This keeps your retail area looking fresh and inviting.
If you don’t have any new products or suggested features from your distributor or the product manufacturer, come up with your own salon retail ideas.
Highlight Seasonal Displays with These Salon Merchandising Ideas
Here are a few salon merchandising ideas to highlight for seasonal displays:
- Deep moisturizing treatments in January to combat the dry winter air
- Liter duos for Valentine’s Day
- Green products St. Patrick’s Day
- Curl care for springy coils in April
- Mother’s Day gift sets and spa specials in May
- Styling and grooming products to suit dads and grads
- Leave-in conditioners and salt sprays for carefree summer looks
- Color care for fall shades
- Go pink in October in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- Appliances in November
- Boxed gift sets for winter holidays
Managing Your Inventory
Look for salon software with excellent inventory management features. The software should make it easy to track your inventory level at any given point and remind you when to re-order, based on your own preset amounts. The ability to mass upload products will also prove valuable, as will features for suggestive selling.
Making Salon Retail Profitable
When selling salon retail products to your clients, it really does not matter if you have a sales background. What is important is that you don’t put them off by trying to push them into buying something that they may or may not need or want. Instead, try some of these tactics:
Be Their Beauty Influencer
Instead of trying to sell products, educate your clients about them. Offer advice about what products are best for their specific needs. After all, you are their beauty expert. Strive to gain your client’s trust with great advice, and the sale will likely follow.
Give Away Samples
Product samples are a great way to help clients try something new without a financial obligation on their part. After all, who doesn’t like to test products before making a purchase? If your client enjoys a product after sampling, they’re more likely to purchase that same product later or try similar products from that same line.
You’ll need to work with your distributor to obtain product samples. If samples are not available, ask about purchasing bulk travel sizes for certain products and give them away to select clients.
Sampling is beneficial when you have a client that receives color services. If you give them a travel-size color care shampoo and conditioner as part of your initial service, they are more likely to purchase that product at their next appointment.
Sell Recommendations as a Valuable Investment
Approach your product recommendations to your clients as an investment in their hair or skin, depending on the product. If they’ve invested in professional hair color, for example, they’d want to protect that color and keep it vibrant, longer with the right after-care products.
If your client has regular spa facial treatments, they’ll be able to keep that youthful glow with the right regimen at home. It’s crucial that they understand that they’ll extend the life of whatever treatment or service they just received by using recommended professional products. That way, they will be more confident in your recommendations down the line.
Promote Quality First
Take the time to explain to clients what it is about the product that makes it the best possible solution for their needs. Also, quash the notion that they can get cheaper products that are just as good at the drugstore.
Explain that professional products are not only of higher quality than their non-professional competitors, but they are typically more concentrated. A higher concentration means using less product each time, which makes the investment go that much further.
Add Convenience with Online Shopping
In addition to a suitably well-rounded inventory in the salon, consider offering an online store for the part of your clientele that likes to shop online. It’s a great way to provide convenience and capture a part of the market that only buys online.
With your online store, you can extend your current product offerings with lines, tools, or specialty items that you don’t carry in your salon. It’s just another way to add income to your business using online salon retail.
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