It goes without saying that the last two years have made retail sales for beauty pros more vital than ever. During lockdowns, e-commerce sales were the only source of revenue for many owners and stylists, and they continue to be a valuable and vital income source for those who work to stay on par—or competitive with—larger companies, such as Amazon and Sephora.
“The difference between us and other retail channels is our knowledge,” says Alicia Lumsden, owner and founder of Queen’s Shop – Fine Hairdressing Inc., a sustainable salon in Toronto. “I think it really comes down to the expert advice and knowledge that we, as hairstylists, have and can offer our clients that Amazon can’t.”
For salon owners, it’s critical to keep up with retail trends and determine which options are feasible for your business. Factoring in the large number of salons that joined the e-commerce space during the pandemic, it’s important to continue thinking outside the box, even with salons having reopened.
TRY A MONTHLY SALON NEWSLETTER TO INFORM YOUR CLIENTS AND CUSTOMERS ABOUT ANY IN-STORE PROMOTIONS OR NEW OFFERINGS YOU MAY HAVE.
Subscription boxes serve as an additional revenue stream for your salon, Lumsden says, as they take away the need for customers and clients to physically come to the salon to snag their favourite products. What’s more, they allow salon owners to gain a level of consistency when it comes to income. “I noticed that during the pandemic, demand for beauty boxes and subscriptions skyrocketed; from a business perspective I can completely understand that because it’s a matter of expected income versus variable income,” she says. “Trying to get some level of consistency and something we could forecast was and is very beneficial for business, and these subscription boxes continue to help with that.”
Lumsden and her team introduced their “Your Essentials Box,” which is made up of a bottle of shampoo and conditioner that clients can have auto-shipped to their door whenever they’re running low on product. “When customers place an order for the box, we contact them to find out what their preferred shampoo and conditioner are, whether it be to care for curly hair, dry hair or whatever other hair type they have,” she says. “The customer can decide if they want the box to come every 60 or 90 days, and we automatically ship it to them.”
“I did some surveying with clients before I started the subscription box and found that a lot of them weren’t paying attention to when they were running low on products,” adds Lumsden. “All of a sudden, they had no product left and would be forced to buy drugstore options, which made this essentials box a good solution.”
The boxes also enable Lumsden to garner a quiet and steady income as a background piece to her in-salon services and retail offerings. “Customers like not having to worry about restocking it themselves because we take care of that,” she says. “I also haven’t had any clients cancel their subscriptions, which has been great.” Lumsden also adds in a free gift like a hair mask, mini product or hair tie to each box as a little extra something.
She also has a “Hey Beauty Kit,” which is a quarterly subscription that’s filled with sustainable beauty products. “The customer pays $60 for products worth $130, and those clients love the products, as well. They tell me they’re obsessed!” says Lumsden. “They often end up spending more after buying a subscription, which works out well.”
Affiliate marketing continues to be growing in popularity throughout the past few years. So what is it exactly? It’s when a third-party earns commission for promoting or selling a company’s products or services.
And while there’s been a common misconception that you have to be an influencer with thousands of followers to become an affiliate, in recent years, many salon owners and stylists have joined these programs to increase retail sales.
Shannon Simmonds, owner of On the Fringe Hair Design in Vancouver, became an Electric London Canada affiliate in 2018. “I love the product line, so joining the program just made sense to me,” she says. “Stylists earn 25 per cent commission when they make a sale. As a salon owner, one of the hardest things to promote can be retail products, so the incentive of commission helps my staff want to sell more. The customer puts the salon’s discount code in and then we take a look to see whose client or customer it was, and then they receive the commission.”
“We carry the line in the salon, but I also have clients who live out of town and don’t want to come all the way to the salon for a product,” adds Simmonds. “In these cases, I send them to the website where they can order products with the salon’s Instagram handle as a coupon code and receive free shipping. The salon earns 25 per cent commission on those purchased products.”
On top of making commission, Simmonds says being an affiliate can offer a number of additional perks to you. “With Electric London Canada, you’re a part of the brand’s family; you can host events for the brand, you have access to education, and you get top priority to go to London Fashion Week. It feels like you’re part of something and not just carrying a line.”
Affiliate marketing can also serve as a great option for an independent stylist, a stylist who rents a chair, or even a smaller salon that doesn’t have the room to carry a whole product line. “You don’t have to physically carry the line in order to sell it now. You can have the intro kit to use on your clients and send them to the website, all while still getting that commission,” says Simmonds. “And now, if we run out of stock, a customer can order it online, get free shipping and get it sent right to their house instead of having to come in to pick it up. If they had to wait for it to come back in stock, chances are they may not come back to the salon to purchase it. This process really helps to maintain retail sales.”
Becoming an affiliate can also replace the need for an owner to launch (or manage) their salon’s own e-commerce store since finding the time to market, pack and ship orders might not be feasible. “In my salon, we don’t have an online retail store,” says Simmonds. “I find it’s a lot of work so this is a great way to be able to offer clients product online without needing to have our own e-commerce shop. I also have new clientele because, on top of selling to clients, I also sell the intro kit to others in the industry and it creates a community. There can be competition between salons sometimes but this is a way I can help others in the industry learn about the line. Everyone is part of this family.”
Shannon Simmonds is the owner of On the Fringe Hair Design in Vancouver, is a master stylist with 25 years of industry experience, and is the education director of Electric London Canada
Alicia Lumsden is the owner and founder of Queen’s Shop – Fine Hairdressing Inc., in Toronto, and a level five stylist who specializes in mentoring, creative cuts as well as creative colour placements.
Reaping the Rewards
If your salon is continuing to experience challenges with retail sales, consider looking into affiliate and rewards programs offered by your local distributors and manufacturers.
These programs have been increasingly popular during the pandemic, and enable salon owners and stylists to earn a commission (or rewards) whenever one of their clients makes a purchase.
Distributors including Alternative Beauty Services and Coastal Beauty offer e-commerce platforms that enable stylists to refer their clients to shop directly through the salon or stylist’s link, eliminating the need for them to invest in their own e-commerce store. It’s an easy way for salons to expand their retail offerings with a wider variety of brands and products.
While the fees for joining these programs can vary, they can be a great option for retail since they handle order fulfillment without the need of having to manage orders or inventory. Plus, they may often include marketing resources and incentives such as free samples for clients, signage and starter kits, along with customer service and support.