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Salon Retail Tips: How to Create & Manage Salon Retail

By: Ashley Smith (SALT Administrative Manager)

Selling retail items in your hair salon (think: shampoos, conditioners, styling products, supplements, brushes, etc.) can be one of the most lucrative parts of running a salon

By some estimates, the average profit margin for a retail sale of salon products is a whopping 50 percent—money that no owner wants to leave on the counter. And because giving your clients the right product to maintain the look and health of their hair helps you come across as an expert, it can also help you retain clients over the long term, helping you build stronger (and more lucrative) relationships. 

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But creating and managing your salon’s retail strategy can be a confusing and overwhelming process, especially if you’ve never done it before or are revamping a system that’s been in place for decades.

Before opening a salon or making adjustments to your existing salon's retail strategy, consider the tips below.

How to Create and Manage Your Salon Retail in 6 Steps

Creating and managing your salon’s retail strategy is as easy as following the six steps below:

1. Identify your target market.

If you’re going to select products which resonate with the kind of client that you are trying to attract to your business and your services, then you need to first understand who that person is. In short, he or she is your ideal client.

Your ideal client is the person who represents who you wish all of your clients could be. They understand your aesthetic and style, they mesh well with your personality and attitude, and they value the same things you do. If you could fill your appointment book with just one type of guest, it would be them. 

Once you know who your ideal client is, you can begin to understand the goals they are trying to achieve, which will impact how you brand yourself, what services you offer, and what products you use (and sell).

2. Identify your services.

The products that you will have the easiest time selling to your clients are the products that tie in some way back to the service you provide your clients. After all, the service is why they came to you to begin with. While your treatment is step one towards reaching their goal, products are how they will preserve those results.

For example, if you focus primarily on providing customized hair coloring, a natural retail tie-in would be after-care products that help the color last longer between visits.

3. Understand you salon’s culture (and what makes you different).

Your salon’s culture is one of the most important characteristics about your brand. It’s what makes your business unique, and refers to the values and behaviors you expect from yourself, your employees, and your clients. 

When thinking about retail, you need to align your products with not only the products that you like, but which also agree with your salon’s culture. Choose companies that stand for the same things that you stand for, or who have a mission similar to your own. You absolutely want to avoid selling a product that you don’t like or that you don’t agree with.

At the same time, study what other brands are doing, and try to find ways to stand out. If no one else is carrying a particular brand or product, you could help yourself stand out by offering it.

4. Study price points. 

Understanding what price points are acceptable to your target market are crucial for your retail strategy’s success. Not everyone wants to spend $100 on hair product, and unless you are catering to the kind of client who does want to spend that much, you shouldn’t carry such an expensive product.

Ask yourself:

  • Is this affordable for my target market?
  • Is it reasonable for my target market?
  • Does a particular brand offer product at multiple price points, so that I can offer a range of product while keeping my product line limited?

For example, at Salt we chose to carry three specific lines that we believe in, which match our culture, and which do the job correctly for our clients when the stylist isn’t around. One is our low price point, specifically for a client who wants a great product, but doesn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on product. The second is a high price point with more concentration and a wider variety. And the third is an in between price point that makes home care easy for the client. 

5. Apply the products to your business.

Once you’ve selected products that mesh well with your clientele, your services, your culture, and your price constraints, you can test them out in your business. 

Order enough of the product to run a case study, but not so much that you will be burdened with expensive stock if it doesn’t sell. And then see how it does. Do your clients like the products? Are clients giving you good feedback? Bad feedback? Is the product performing like you and your clients expect?

If the initial test points to a success, then you should incorporate the product into your retail strategy. If the results are not great, then you should consider taking the feedback you received from your clients and finding an alternative.

6. Keep it consistent (but don’t be afraid to experiment).

Once you’ve found a product lineup that works, you want to try and keep it consistent. Your regular clients will come to you for that product when they need it, and might even refer others looking for that product to you by word of mouth. 

That being said, don’t be afraid to switch things up a little bit from time to time. Try out new products and see if your clients love them as much as you do. Just remember that if you take something away, you have something bigger and better to replace it. After all, we can all get a little particular about our hair care routines!

A Few Tips for Creating and Managing Your Salon’s Retail

  • Educate yourself: If you’re going to effectively sell your retail product, you need to be fully educated on what that product is, when it should be used, and when using it would be a waste of time. All employees should be able to understand and educate a client on your entire retail line.
  • Educate your clients: Discuss with your clients why a particular product will be great for their hair. Explain how to use it, when to use it, and when not to use it. Also educate them on feedback you have received from previous clients so they know what to look for (ex: how much to use, when to rinse, how to rinse, how to use it, when to use it, etc.).
  • Accept differences in opinion: Be conscious and aware of the fact that not everyone will like the same stuff that you like one hundred percent of the time. Be open to a client calling back and saying they don’t like the product but would like a new one. Ask why the client doesn’t like the product and suggest something accordingly. 
  • Only sell your clients products they actually need: We manage our retail in regards to what the client specifically needs or wants, and we never suggest they buy something that wouldn’t bring them value. Your retail strategy should complement your services, but you don’t want to just push product on your clients. Doing that can lead to broken trust and, at worst, someone who doesn’t come back.

    Want to learn more great tips to help you grow your business? Sign up for our Independent Business Class today where you'll learn everything about running an effective salon business.

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