Sam Villa Guest Blog: Maintaining Salon Retail in the Age of Amazon

The industry is facing a new reality today when it comes to professional retail. It began when diversion started to happen in the early 2000s, and in recent years, the public has demanded easy access to professional beauty products. The “Age of Amazon” has redefined the way people shop and their expectations of availability.

The purpose of our conversation today isn't to explore if it's a good or bad thing, because frankly, it has happened and now we must discover ways to continue to have a thriving retail business within our salons. Disruption is simply interruption that is here to stay, so how do you embrace it?

First, we must stop blaming things that are outside of our control for the challenges within the four walls of our salon. Does online shopping affect your salon’s retail sales? Maybe. But, you are not creating solutions if you’re focused on blaming movements you can’t change. Focus on what you DO have control over.

What do we have control over?

Training – I can honestly say that the focus on product knowledge and retail training is at an all-time low in salons. Many of the Redken Focus Salons I visit are still hitting this necessary education point very hard, but in general, this is a soft focus in our industry. Consumers want to purchase from someone they feel is an expert in their field, so take the time to dig back into PK and the retail conversation. But, don’t make it a sales pitch! Take this approach – “Tell” not “Sell” – think of the retail conversation as simply educating and offering the solution to the salon guest’s needs.

Promote “Buy Local” Initiatives – Most consumers don’t connect the dots when purchasing. They are simply looking for the best price and the most convenient method of getting what they want. So, don’t be afraid to educate them. Let them know that when they purchase from your salon, more of the money they spend stays within the community. Our Education Director for Sam Villa, Andrew Carruthers, would be very honest with his guests and share the fact that the profits from salon retail sales paid for the education and benefits of the stylists in the salon. The guests were usually surprised that salon retail was so important to the stylists… people they often considered family.

Reward Guests – Consumers love a good rewards/loyalty program. In fact, not having one could drive them to purchase somewhere else that does. And don’t just make this a simple “you get a discount after 10 punches” program. Make your guests feel special and offer something they aspire to. Create a night each quarter that you bring your top 20 guests into the salon for a “how-to” hair night or reward them with luxury services. The point is, get creative, and make it special. You don’t want this to feel like the same program they get at the drive-through coffee shop down the street.

Make it Attractive – It only takes one visit to a high-end boutique or department store to see the power of great merchandising. A wall full of products stacked side by side is overwhelming and uninviting so create a space that feels welcoming and inspires them to experience the product. Make sure the retail area changes often. A seasonal update will keep repeat clients interested, even if the products don’t change.

Finally, make sure the products on your shelf ignite passion and fit the values of the stylist in your salon. It’s not hard to talk about something when you have a true love for it!

One thing is absolutely sure: the world will change. By all means, fight for what you believe is fair and just. I support fully that you should have your voice heard. What I also want for you is continued success. So even if the changes around you feel unfair and they seem to be creating challenges in your business, use that as fuel to grow and become stronger. With some creativity and conviction, disruption can create opportunity! The difference is how you perceive that disruption and what you are willing to do to stay fluid in our ever-changing world.

Aspire for more!

Sam

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