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Ramp up your Retail Sales: Advice from Industry Pros

There has recently been a sentiment in the industry that salons are losing out to online sales. This in-depth article gives advice and pointers on how salons can ramp up their retail and be competitive and successful in today’s market. We hope that you find the pointers valuable and thank everyone who gave their input!

Online is here to stay, and it’s not all bad for brands.

Chris Stofberg, MD of Modern Hair and Beauty, explains that hairdressers need to live alongside online sales as it is a reality. “Our industry has been more protected than the rest of the world for many years, and salons in other countries have had to adjust to sales through other avenues and portals for years already,” he explains. “There are benefits to salons as the increased visibility of a brand that is available online, helps to build that brand and this in turn is good for the salons who stock that brand and will draw clients into the salon to experience what else the brand offers (i.e. colour).”

Chris explains that in a competitive market where every brand is looking to be sustainable and successful, visibility plays a big role. The more successful and the bigger selling a brand is, the more can be put back into the brand in terms of research and technology.

It’s a competitive market and every brand is looking to be sustainable and successful. Visibility plays a big role in this. Another benefit: the more products a brand sells, the more can be put back into the brand.

“Products are Cheaper Online” – How to Handle This

Stav Dimitriadis, CEO of Twincare, explains that suppliers are limited as to what they can dictate in the industry and they have to be aware of being anti-competitive which is a serious offense.

“However we are concerned about the direction online sales seem to be taking and that they are undermining the industry we have all built. As a company we do not intend to allow online to become an uncontrolled Wild West, and we are working hard to find a practical solution to this that will work for everyone,” Stav explains.

Having said that, Stav explains that we need to play the cards we are dealt. Salons need to offer an incentive, whether in the form of promotions or discounts, for customers to continue to buy. “The alternative is to create your own online presence, as some customers are looking for the convenience that online provides. As younger customers who are technologically more savvy begin to age, they will form a bigger portion of society’s spending power so this will become more important,” he says.

Stav emphasises that change is painful for all of us, but we can either adapt to it or get swept aside and there are numerous examples of this such as instant cameras, fax machines, ipods, CDs, VHS tapes.... even print magazines! (You’re reading industry news online now!) “Rather learn the technology and the skills to make sure this does not happen to you in the future,” he advises.

Jerry Johnson, the manager of Franco International Sandton, explains that If a client complains that a product is cheaper online their salon’s policy is to say that we will match the price, they must just show the salon where they saw the special so that we can confirm the current special price. “This works for price conscious clients. Some clients do not worry about price as they are just glad to have the convenience of getting the product while they are having their hair done,” he explains. “It’s very important to be well stocked and to have in stock what the client requires.”

What Advantages Do Salons Have with In-Person Sales?

Patricia Hasses, sales consultant for Goldwell-KMS, explains that stylists have the advantage of retail products knowledge and can recommend the correct products directly to the client according to her / his specific needs which might change according to the season, their health, their new hairdo, or other reasons where a different product might be suitable. Styling products are also a great sell for salons as a salon can demonstrate how they work. If the salon is well stocked and the products is available immediately why would the client go online to order it and most of the times pay a delivery fee and then wait for the delivery.

Clients that shop online are often those that are not getting advice from the stylist, or are too shy to ask the stylist. In other cases it is more a question of supply. If the client knows what she wants and can’t find it in her salon she will go online. So if the salon has the stock available the client will buy it from the salon and not online. Not every salon can afford to stock everything but they can recommend an alternative to what the client is looking for.

“I did a exercise with one of my clients once. They were situated next to a retailer (Dischem). I took the stylist outside and made them count the steps from the salon door to the retailers door. It was 20 steps and I explained to them this is how close the competition is for retail sales. I told them if you don’t recommend the retail to the client she will go next door and take off the shelves what she thinks she needs,” Patricia explains.

Online stores shouldn’t be a threat to salons even if the online store is running a special or having a sale as nothing is stopping the salon from doing the same and if they can’t they can always contact their suppliers and ask for support in the form of running the same special or sale.

Patricia believes that one of the most important things in our industry is consultation. This allows for retail opportunities and also for upselling through additional services – the in-salon version of the retail product is often a great way to upsell. Nowadays, Patricia advises that the consultation should include the question “have you ever bought from a online store?” If the client answers yes this is the perfect opportunity for you to win the client over, either to buy from your salon in person, or to buy through your own salon’s online store if you have that facility available.

Remember that “online sales” don’t have to be complicated and if you have a relationship with your client it could be as simple as having her WhatsApp the order to you, and you send it off! Just open an account with a local courier service and you will be able to offer your client a virtual product sale if she needs more of her products and doesn’t want to make a special trip to the salon.

Market Your Retail Side Actively: Here are Some Great Ideas

Georg Marnewick, MD of Take Note Trading, distributors of Milkshake South Africa, lists some great marketing initiatives that salons can implement to boost retail sales to the end-user:

Client days or events to promote retail products | salons should involve their suppliers to assist them to sell retail to the end-users;

Give-aways | salon owners know their client base and therefore know what products clients will respond to as a give-away;

Discounts | negotiate a special discount for retail products from your supplier and pass such discounts on to your clients

Free products | negotiate free products from your supplier and pass such free products on to your clients

Competitions | Involve your clients in competitions on your social media pages

Free blow-dry | if you haven’t seen you client in a while, invite them for a free blow-dry so that they can experience that they are safe in your salon.

Salon online shops | if salons want to compete online, they should invest and develop online shops for their salons from which their clientele can purchase their retail products. Online shops could generate much needed retail turnover and their salon clientele will be more loyal to such a salon than buying elsewhere

Georg believes that having a good client relationship is all-important. “Not only in the hair industry, but in many organisations, it is expected that the relationship between seller and buyer will last forever without much effort. No relationship, be it a business or a personal relationship, will grow if effort is not being put into such a relationship,” he explains. “Quality relationship building is now important more than ever and salon owners and their staff should implement a Customer Relationship Management system to ensure that the relationship between the salon and its clients is properly managed.” Georg explains that this doesn’t have to be expensive and could be as simple as a card system.

Education and Product Knowledge is Essential

Terry Scott, owner of Terry Scott Hair Fashion, KZN, explains that education is the most important thing in retail! “You must know your products to be able to recommend the best retail options to your client. Every client should have a consultation including recommended retail products before they even get to the basin.”

When it comes to price, Terry advises that you should never presume to know what your client can or can’t afford. “Recommend the best product for your client’s needs. However, if budget is a concern, most product houses have various retail ranges that can suit your client’s needs and budget.”

Power Retail Sales Tips from the Ground Up

Jane Alves, Retail Business Consultant at Modern Hair and Beauty, gives a power refresher course on how you can be sure clients buy from your salon and upgrade to professional retail, rather than using supermarket products.

Retail is simply identifying a need and providing a solution. However doing it effectively is an art that requires practice and attentions. It may not be the main source of income in your salon business since we are predominantly service orientated but it’s that extra icing and cherry on the cake that makes everything sweeter and adds great benefits to the business and your clientele.

How can salons retail more effectively?

Do a Daily Expectation Check:

Each day have a quick meeting with your team or yourself if you work by yourself and set your goals for the day from service to retail. This creates accountability and focus for everyone and sets a clear route of action.

Consult, consult, consult:

Consultation is key! This allows us to better understand the client’s needs and concerns. By asking the right questions it. can help you see what to recommend from service, to treatment and retail for that clients desired outcome to be met.

Questions like:

What do you like about your hair?

What would you change?

Care Habits? (This discerns their budget and any gaps in their regime)

While talking, analyze the scalp and hair to your overall picture and to guide you to the right recommendations

Involve your clients in the process:

Show your clients what you are doing, tell them what products, let them touch, smell and feel so it’s part of the overall experience and they connect with the products and experience.

Sell value over price:

It’s always value over price. Do not mention price until you have showed them the value. Price before understanding can shut clients down. They need to first see what you are presenting to them meets their personal needs and will change how they feel about their hair on a daily basis. The emotional and confidence factor is bigger than the price

The Power of Three:

Always link sell!! By showing at least 3 products as part of a regime, the client sees the value of a personalized regime and clients are more likely to purchase 1- 2 items when they are presented with at least 3 items. Especially if you have successfully shown them the value.

Set up a “Prescription stand” at the styling section:

A nice way of introducing a clients regime is to have an area at the styling section where you can place and present your chosen “prescription” to them. Always display to their left, they will more likely interact and touch, smell and feel and ask you questions. It’s a nice way of selling and great for those who are not confident in selling or nervous as it’s a much more relaxed approach.

Stay Teachable:

Keep learning and keep challenging yourself to grow and try new things to incorporate into the business.

What trends are coming? What products are available?

This helps to future proof your business as you remain on top of what’s influencing your clients and industry.

And utilize your suppliers, the team at Modern Hair & Beauty can assist you with business support, technical support, retail skills and product knowledge to make sure you and your team are always on top of your game.

Client Segmentation:

This is a unique course to Modern Hair and Beauty which helps you to understand your clients exact personality so you can tailor and enhance their overall experience, speak in their language and meet their needs at a whole new level. This builds loyal and strong relationships, client frequency and spend. If you need more information on this course then please contact our education department.

Challenge Perceptions:

If your client has a misunderstanding of something or products then be honest and take the time to educate and help them to understand in a non antagonizing way. If you don’t, someone else will.

Be The Doctor:

You are the expert, be confident!!!! Embrace the talent and knowledge you have to share, it’s so valuable. Keep planting those seeds with your clients, even if it’s not that particular day you will reap that harvest in the future.


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