6 ways to improve your retail sales

When I talk about retail sales with managers or owners of spas and salons, the conversation will usually go in one of five directions:

 • Sheer frustration at being unable to retail more

• Complete boredom towards trying to sell

• The feeling that “online retail sales are taking over; what chance do I have?”

• The belief that therapists are incapable of selling because they’re “just therapists”

• Very occasionally, the reaction of “yes! We have cracked it; we retail to more than 20% of our clients”.

I’ve been researching the psychology behind selling because often what stops the sales from happening are the barriers we put up in our heads. Throughout my career, having worked for key commercial brands such as Clinique, Clarins, Bliss and L’Occitane, I’ve realised that retail sales are down to a team effort, not just the individual therapist.

A detailed customer journey is at the heart of the success of your retail sales and, like any of the spas and salons that are successfully retailing to more than 20% of their client base, the investment in training is crucial to keep the focus and motivation alive for therapists.

Saying that, if you achieve 20% you can double that easily with this strong strategy. You need to adopt a different way of thinking about retail sales by applying a 360-degree approach.

Retail sales

I believe six key factors play an important part in increasing your sales year on year by influencing each step of the customer journey.

1. The customer

Spending habits have changed. Clients are far more impulsive than they used to be and although they have more choice as to where they can buy their products, they’re also craving expertise and a wellness experience.

I once managed a therapist who would conduct a full consultation for every client, even If they were just having a pedicure. She was always popular and regularly managed a 70% retail rate. One day, she was carrying out a pedicure consultation when other clients in the salon overheard and asked her, “Could you have a look at my nails too and tell me what I need?” because their therapists hadn’t bothered with the consultation. She ended up selling to all of them.

2. The manager 

The manager has a lot to do with retail sales. From stock management to motivation, the core of the retail percentage comes from the manager. If you think, live and love retail, your team will too.

For example, why not give an out of stock list to your team so they know what not to retail? I do mystery shopping for salons and often a therapist will recommend something to me, only to discover it’s out of stock when I try to buy it. It’s not the therapist’s fault.

A list would prevent them trying to retail something you don’t have and ending up losing that sale.

3. The therapist 

So, what makes therapists who can sell different from the others? Firstly, they get the consultation right but they also try to retail to everyone. They give the opportunity of better skin and wellbeing to every client they see.

There is no magic touch, simply the law of averages. The more they try to sell, the more they will sell. The successful retailer’s mindset is full of expertise, not excuses.

4. The reception 

Everything is picked up at reception, making it key to retail success. The customer journey is made up of several little details, all of which will increase your chance of sales. The reception has a huge part to play in that. The more you analyse how retail is being dealt with at reception, the more chances you will have to increase your sales.

5. The marketing

Bringing a buzz to your retail products will generate interest. Have you thought of videos to bring the products alive? What about your website; are the brands represented? Retail products shouldn’t gather dust. Even the least popular ones can be promoted and sold with a strong enough strategy.

6. The merchandising 

Possibly the most impactful aspect of all, merchandising can make or break your sales. Merchandising should be considered in all places where the customer relaxes after treatment.

Do you think he or she remembers what has been said in the treatment room? You can recommend as much as you want but if the merchandising doesn’t entice the client to the retail area, they won’t buy.

For example, the reception area is where the actual sale happens; what does that look like to you right now? Too many messages kill the message – how many can you see? The customer remembers a maximum of three. I know of a salon that highlights just one product each month. They sell out every time.

While it’s important to take a 360-degree approach that encompasses all of the above, motivation is your key to successful retailing. If you want to retail, you will; if you don’t, you’ll find many excuses and so will everyone in the team.

Motivation comes from within so start with a large piece of paper and write your whys: why did you choose these brands? Why do you want to increase your retail sales? And so on. Fall in love with your retail again, and everyone around you will too.

Valerie Delforge Valerie Delforge delivers business training modules, including Retail 360° in Spas & Salons, at the London School of Beauty and Make up or via bespoke programmes for individual businesses.