Retailing products is the perfect solution to rounding out your monthly income. It also helps your clients take care of themselves in-between appointments. Retailing can be a profitable sideline to your cosmetology business. Retail products can be carried in the salon/at your station or made available for online ordering. Either way, you make a profit from the sales. An important aspect of retailing is the selling price. Much like pricing your services, you must consider the cost to bring the product to shelf. A rule of thumb when pricing products is a 100% markup plus the price paid to have the products delivered. Example, if an item costs you $10.00 wholesale, you will sell it for $20 (or more). If you bought 20 items and it cost you $10 for shipping, you will add 50 cents to the selling price of each product. Thus, that product now sells for $20.50. You could also round it up to $21 or $20.99. Pricing in this manner makes applying product introductory discounts, or sells later in the season, easier without causing a great loss in revenues.
Retail products may also come in the form of business opportunities that relate or fit well with your branch of cosmetology practice. Examples are Soul Purpose, Youngevity, Avon, Traci Lynn Jewelry, IDShield and Mary Kay. In these examples, the retail markups are set by the company. The profit margin is usually 20-50% of the retail price. Example: a $20.00 jar of cream will cost you $15.00 wholesale, making the profit 25% or $5.00. As stated in the previous paragraph, be sure to add shipping and handling to the selling price if you decide to carry the most popular items, or items you want to promote, in the salon. Remember, clients are smart and may question why the cream which sells for $20 in the catalog/website is on your shelf for $21 or $22.00. Share with your client that you are saving them the full shipping fee which can be $6.95 or more (depending on what their product total is) by carrying the product in the salon. They will thank you in the end.
Another scenario to consider is when you do not carry items in the salon/shop or at your station. Clients may think that if you order the product for them they will not have to pay the full shipping or tax. That is not true. That product would then become a special-order item carrying the full price of shipping. If possible have a computer or tablet available at your station or reception area for clients to order directly from your website, creating their own account. You could also have order forms for them to complete and they sign. Be sure to include sales tax.
Retailing products adds value to your service by offering a one-stop-shop convenience for your clients and increased profits for you. Just like offering a service upgrade or add-on service, retailing a product holds the possibility of increasing your income.
Researching Professional Products
Consider these categories when researching products to retail.
Where do you find products? Professional products for retailing can be found in industry publications and showcase events. Usually in the form of a display ad or other type of promotion. Events offer a great opportunity to demo products, ask the manufacturer questions and ultimately purchase. Note, when purchasing products at an event you usually receive an event discount. Products may be readily available to take with you that day or the sales representative will take orders and ship them directly to your location – still with the discounted price. Display ads will list features and benefits and should include a website to gain additional information about the particular product. The local beauty supply stores will also carry products for retail and will be an ongoing resource for current and seasonal items. Educators and colleagues are also great resources to solicit product knowledge and ideas. The distributor for your wholesale brands may also carry consumer sizes for retail. Ask. This is a great way for clients to take home part of the salon experience. Do not fear client home care. Retailing is a way of extending your service.
Profitable sidelines, such as those mention above, offer high quality salon or spa ingredients and packaging; making them more appealing to you and your clients. There are many brands in the marketplace so, learn everything possible about a product’s ingredients, how it is made, etc., before signing on or ordering a large quantity. Purchase one or two to use on yourself and clients before committing. Do not forget to ask about support and return policies. Remember, just because a product has rave reviews and most people “love” it does not mean there will not be the rare client that will suffer a negative reaction or just decide they do not like it. A client should always be able to return a product, but that does not mean you have to bear the cost. Check with the manufacturer about refunds or credits. You will be able to offer your client the same resolve.
When choosing products, you may decide only to offer service-related products. These are products that directly relate to your practice. Some of these products may be in the form of sidelines or buy and resale from licensed-only beauty supply stores and Industry manufacturers. See the following list for ideas and add your own.
Whether or not you practice a certain branch of cosmetology, or not, does not dictate what type of products you should retail. If you are a nail tech, you are not barred from retailing hair and skin care products. Being an esthetician does not preclude you from selling nail treatments. Your clients use all of these types of products. You may choose to only carry a few products in the salon (or at your station) while others may have to be ordered, as mentioned previously. Having a computer or tablet with internet service is convenient so clients may order while they are looking at your display or catalog. Once they leave your presence, 99% of the time clients will not order later, as promised. It will be their good intention but it most likely will not happen. A little technology will go a long way to save a sale.
You may offer seasonal products bundled with others. A good example is Valentine’s Day. Try wrapping cute stuffed animals holding a red nail polish or pairing shampoo and conditioner with a pretty red ribbon and bow. Another suggestion is filling a basket with products and candy and a bottle of wine is awesome. Professional beauty supply stores will also promote gift sets that can be resold at retail. Seasonal sales can be a great time of collaboration. Do you know people who make beautiful gift baskets? Offer them, or they may ask you first, to set a few items in your salon or at your station for clients to purchase. Just remember, you pay rent for the space, so they should expect to give you a percentage of each basket sold. Get it in writing, so there is no misunderstanding.
These may be products from a profitable sideline, for example, you may want to sell lingerie or high-quality undergarments. Related to beauty but not a salon service or product. Other suggestions are hats, gloves and sunglasses, wooly socks or umbrellas, scarfs, wraps and purses. Don’t forget about the snack machine. Candy, soft drinks, bottled water and chips are great retail items for clients waiting to be served. (Note: in the mornings, please offer complimentary coffee, tea and pastries. Just a personal preference.)
There are many great brands of products that can be sold through your business that do not relate at all to beauty and style. They may, however, be consumer products that make sense. Examples would be legal services, insurance, household products, etc. Most of the brands will fall under network marketing or affiliate sales. Speaking of affiliate sales, these and other products should be available through your website for clients to order directly. Companies to consider for affiliate sales are Rakuten, Shareasale, and Commission Junction. You post advertiser ads on your website that is linked to that site with your tracking code. When visitors click on the ads and make a purchase, the company pays you a commission. It does not cost to be part of these affiliate programs and they offer training and tips on their respective websites.
Whatever you decide, be sure you have a prominent attractive in-salon, or at your station, display with brochures and fliers. Promote all you do on your website and through periodic email marketing. With email marketing take care to comply with soliciting rules via email. Most platforms require you to acknowledge CAN-SPAM and the Anti-Spam laws regarding commercial messaging. See details regarding email at the end of this section.
Profitable sidelines make great add-on products and services as well as additional income for you. Just remember that they are sidelines and should not overtake your main business. You want clients to feel comfortable when they come in for service. No one wants to be over sold or bombarded with offers. Your display should speak for itself coupled with your caring professional manner. Share a few benefits and let them decide.
Taking the Next Step – Speaker Leader
As a manager you have taken on a leadership role in the industry. Consider being an educator or trainer. Offer your speaking services for career days or industry events with local beauty stores or manufacturers. With all your knowledge about certain products and retailing, consider being a “brand Ambassador” for your favorite products.