How to Inventory and Sell Your Retail
Inventory, organizing, and selling retail are big question marks for most skin care professionals. The reason for this is most are in it for the love of changing skin through the work. You thrive in the treatment room and are generally soft spoken, healing, and soothing practitioners. And yet when it comes to developing a business these are important questions to consider. How long do you keep retail on the shelf? How do you place it to look enticing? And most importantly, how do you get clients to buy it without feeling like a salesperson?
Retail sales is one of the most profit-driven components of your business, and yet for many aestheticians it is the least. And that is simply because of the aforementioned reason. We don’t want to come across as salespeople – we don’t want to seem pushy and imposing. The way around this is through education, realizing that it is a huge disservice to not offer home care products to your clients, and understanding a few fundamentals of an effective retail display.
Stock, organize, position and rotate
Getting started and building the right inventory does not have to be a challenge. The best place to start is by analyzing and detecting patterns in the types of clients you service. What are the common skin challenges they have and what are their expectations for their skin? This, of course, will allow you to determine which essential items, correctives and skin-nourishing products to keep on the shelf. As a general guideline, have a few (usually three) of different groupings and categories when first getting started and build up as you know your client’s patterns and as your business expands.
When it comes to organizing and displaying products, opt for a clean look. Don’t clutter the display with too little or too many of the same product. Too sparse of a display may convey these are the last few stragglers that couldn’t sell and too many of one item may seem like no one is buying it! It’s a balance.
You might consider organizing products by regimen or theme. For instance, if you have an acne care home system, group a cleanser, corrective, and skin-building and protection formula together. Or you might group by theme, such as all green tea-based products or a special summer skin care regimen together. There is also an advantage to placing by category – all cleansers, all toners, all moisturizers, etc. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way here, it is just what works for your clientele. Pay attention and move items around to see if you notice a difference as clients peruse your shelves. Shelf talkers are extremely valuable. Let them be your silent salesperson!
Keep the display bright, clean and free of clutter. Be sure the area is dust free as this will tend to make clients think the products have been sitting for a while and may not be fresh. Use attractive counter cards and posters – in moderation – to provide information about the products or line, and catch the client’s eye.
Life on the shelf
In your inventory system notate when the product went on the shelf, and if it’s been there too long (well passed its expiration), pull it from the shelf. It is tempting to try to sell it. But older product that has clearly outlived its shelf life, particularly if it is changed in appearance will just psychologically cause the client to feel as if there is a problem. My suggestion, depending on the product and circumstance, is to move it to your back-bar and use in treatments. Oftentimes, shelf life has nothing to do with quality of the formula and will not cause an issue if it is used. Shelf life is determined more by the stability of the formula and when that begins to change. Color shifts, separation, becoming too thick or too thin may occur after a certain period of time, and yet the product is actually still okay to use. On the other hand, using shelf life dates as a guideline is important for moving your products both in retail and treatment room.
Paying attention to shelf life is an important part of managing your retail and it is really essential to rotate your products. When new product comes in be sure to place in the back and pull your entire current product forward. It is quite common for businesses to mix it all together and then without realizing it, the newer product moves before what was already on the shelf.
To preserve the life of your products, keep them out of direct sunlight or other direct lights. Even interior lighting can get quite hot and raise the temperature of the product. A cool space, out of direct light, is optimal to ensure a product’s longevity. More and more businesses are using LED lights, which are much easier on products and do not produce any heat.
This goes for testers too. First, having testers is important. We are in such a high-touch industry and clients want to see, touch, smell, and feel a product before they commit to buying. Some of this will come through the treatment you just performed on their skin, but it is nice for them to be able to pick it up and try it. Just be sure to change out testers when they get low or don’t look fresh any longer. Keep the containers and pump heads clean. This is so important!
Education marketing – it works!
Now let’s talk about how to get your products in the hands of your clients without coming across as an overly aggressive salesperson. First, understand your clients are going to get their home care from somewhere. Why shouldn’t it be you? They came to you; so let them know all of the opportunities you have for them. And yes, selling them retail product is an opportunity and a necessity! They’ll get the added benefit of your knowledge and expert advice on what will be most effective for their skin. Not because you want to sell them something but because you know it will make a difference.
That said, shift the mentality from selling to one of educating. This will come naturally following a treatment as you may recommend a home care system to enhance and maintain the desired results. In other instances, you might offer a quick skin assessment then offer a customized system or educate clients on specific ingredients, what they do and why they may be effective for their particular skin.
When you do send clients home with products, be sure to talk to them, not only about the how, why, and when to use, but about the shelf life of their home care as well. Explain to them what shelf life means in general and convey how the formulas they have are most effective. With the Rhonda Allison line, we have some specific formulas that are used for a certain time until it is gone. Whereas another formula may be used as needed for a shorter period of time and still be kept for a year or more.
With Rhonda Allison products specifically, it is common for colors to shift or separation to occur in many of our formulas. It has to do with the choice of natural ingredients used to elicit color or not using a lot of stabilizers, sometimes it is due to the actives themselves and how they begin to shift over time. Often this simply indicates it may need a good shake.
To wrap up, take note of displays that you see in other stores. Which grab your attention? What makes it effective or ineffective? Replicate what’s working and then see how it performs in your space. Test different displays and placements until you find your sweet spot. But remember, the most important part of retail is education! And the most important part of successful skin outcomes is daily home regimens – that means retail!