With salons and spas having to deal with a challenging year of lockdown closures for months at a time, many will have lost out, not only on their service profits, but from retail sales too. As we head into December and salon in England prepare to come out of their second coronavirus lockdown, now is the time to focus on online retail to bounce back in 2021.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult for salon owners to keep up with the constant changes to the rules and regulations, and with local lockdowns taking place across the country, ensuring that you have an additional revenue stream is key,” says Abigail Walsh, Phorest marketing country manager UKI. If you’re not already operating an online shop then this is an important area to tap into. In fact, a Phorest survey showed that consumers are looking to support smaller businesses more than ever before.
“We found that 73% of consumers in the UK are more inclined to shop locally this year, so now is the perfect time for salon owners to be able to offer consumers what they want,” says Walsh. Now’s the time to compete with online retailers and steer your clients to support your business instead.
1 Affiliate links
Matt Craven, owner of The Grange Spa, Lincolnshire, grew his online sales during the first lockdown by using affiliate links with his product houses.
“We set up an IGTV channel and from that we knew how much we needed to take in order to survive Covid-19 lockdown and pay the bills through the sale of product and gift vouchers,” he says. Craven’s therapy team showcased home massage tips during lockdown, which enabled them to use affiliate product links with their suppliers in order to generate profit.
The affiliate system works by generating a link in collaboration with your supplier, which is then shared through social media to your clients. By encouraging clients to purchase their usual products through that link, salons receive commission from the sale – it’s a win-win. “I think online retailing is the future for the industry – it saved our business during coronavirus lockdown,” he says.
Craven has also seen significant growth in online bookings, and emphasises the importance ot investing in software that also lets you upsell retail products, as this is key for boosting profits when salons can reopen.
2 Online shops
When salon doors closed during the first lockdown, Marcello Moccia, owner of Room 97 Creative in Leeds and Wakefield, saw it as an opportunity to launch an online store for his business, and saw retail profits of £8,000 in his first week.
“We had clients ringing us desperate to get hold of their usual products and it was obvious the world of online shopping was being accelerated,” he says. “So, we launched our online store. It was something I had thought about doing but never got round to. Launching it really opened my eyes and made me realise how big the world of online retail is.”
Phorest’s salon software includes an online shop feature which syncs clients’ details and your stock levels, and products can then be promoted to customers via its marketing suite. “Selling retail online also increases the level of aftercare you can give clients,” says Walsh. “It gives the salon another reason to reach out, which not only increases communication but is also another opportunity to boost revenue.”
Also, don’t underestimate your clients’ willingness to buy product. Data from Phorest shows that clients who buy retail continue to purchase it regularly, at least five times a year, with an average of 1.5 products per purchase. “This data alone highlights how important it is to start selling retail and giving your clients what they want,” adds Walsh.
If setting up a site from scratch is a bit daunting, then selling from a pre-existing platform is an option to consider. Nicole Blacklock, owner of Absolutely Fabulous Nail Bar and Beauty Salon and a Sweet Squared education ambassador, set up an online site as well as an Etsy shop, selling press-on nails for her clients who couldn’t have their nails done during the coronavirus lockdown, along with other retail items.
3 Gift vouchers
Selling gift vouchers can be a valuable asset to support your business during enforced coronavirus lockdowns.
“Selling gift vouchers regularly helps to secure your business and maintain a healthy cash flow,” says salon business coach Liz McKeon. “With the right marketing strategy, it can help to promote your brand too. Continue to focus on increasing voucher sales all year round, and keep your appointment books full, even during the non-holiday season.”
Promoting gift vouchers through social media channels and newsletters is an effective way to make your clients aware that these are on offer, but timing them is equally important. “Most people get paid on the last day of the month or on the 15th, and research has found that 64% of people spend the bulk of their discretionary income within five days after pay day,” explains McKeon.
You should also send invoices separately from the vouchers. “Some online customers will send your products or voucher directly to their recipients,” she says. “Make sure you don’t mail any product brochures or invoices that list prices, ruining the gift experience for the person. Instead, email the invoice directly to the purchaser.”
You can also add incentives to encourage your clients to purchase gift cards. “Give the giver a small gift, such as a free product, a coupon for a future service they can use for themselves, or a salon voucher with a smaller amount loaded onto it. Incentives to buy a voucher can not only boost salon retail sales but can encourage more clients to turn to you instead of a competitor,” says McKeon.
4 Christmas gifting
The Christmas season is an ideal time of the year to generate profit for your beauty salon or spa, so consider devising some Christmas campaigns to drum up business.
“Look at setting up a campaign that involves an advent calendar or a ‘12 days of Christmas’ incentive where you offer a giveaway – whether that’s a product that you’re promoting, or a complimentary service in the new year,“ says Kate Woods, who runs Kor Digital, a specialist digital marketing company. She also recommends hosting a virtual event for your clients to showcase demos and the products or gift sets that you have on offer to boost your retail sales.
“Now is also the time to implement payment installment methods on your website”, adds Woods. These can help clients spread the cost of purchases. “Services such as Klarna or Pay Later are great for your high-value services,” she says, helping to ease the financial stress on your clients.