INDUSTRY INSIDERS - The Importance of Retail Products
Allan Share, president of the Spa Industry Association, offers helpful insight on the importance of retail products:
As a spa industry insider, I have seen the important benefits that retail products can have on a spa. In fact, I’ve spent 33 years in the spa industry and the first 18 years were spent building New Life Systems, a distribution company, and Lotus Touch, a manufacturing company. Eventually, these were sold to Scrip Companies (Massage Warehouse, BodyWorkMall), which is where I spent the next three years helping the business acquire several other companies.
Today, retail continues to be an important topic because during the past two years, it kept many of our spa-channel facilities in business. In the gift market, the term “front of the house” is used to describe the area where product sales happen, and while most facilities were closed at times due to the pandemic, those that had retail products, a website that took orders, and the ability to deliver products curbside, were able to stay in business and thrive.
Another reason why retail is an important element of a spa business is because retail does not live just in the front of the spa. Every wall, every room (even the restroom!) offers the opportunity to showcase your spa’s offerings. Here are some immutable laws of retail to guide you:
- Showcase products in good lighting.
- Position products at eye level.
- Less can be more when stocking products on a shelf.
- Color-coordinate the placement of products.
- Move the inventory around so it looks new all the time.
- Close out those items that are not selling.
- Don’t offer discounts, instead bundle products or give closeout products away in gift boxes with a handwritten note to your best clients.
There are many ways to make money in retail, and these are just a few strategies. There are also professionals in the spa industry who are experts in retail, visual merchandising, and more, including Patti Biro (www.pattibiro.com) and the team at Retailworks (www.retailworksinc.com) that can help you get started. When you think about a $100 spa treatment producing 25 to 40 percent gross profit, it sounds good, right? However, if you sell $100 in retail products, you can make 50 to 75 percent gross profit. The key is though, you need to be attuned to managing existing products correctly and you should have a system in place for bringing on new products. So, how do you find, analyze, test, and purchase new products?
- Do your research and learn about the brands that other facilities with similar demographics as yours are carrying.
- Attend trade shows. We are still an in-person industry and nothing beats attending a trade show, like the International Esthetics, Cosmetics & Spa Conference (IECSC), and walking the aisles, smelling and feeling products (we are very kinesthetic), sampling, and having staff test their products for you. Visit www.dayspaassociation.com for a list of upcoming industry events.
- Listen to the vendors already calling on you. They’re a wealth of information and the good ones are very interested in your success.
- Take calls from potential new vendors. Carving out a few moments from your busy day may seem difficult, but it will be worth it to find out what products they have and how it might fit into your retail offerings.
- Lastly, visit the gift markets. Many spa and wellness facilities have found a wide variety of products to fill their retail shelves. Keep in mind that most vendors will have small opening orders with small minimum refills.
TO RECAP: Do your research, test new products, buy small amounts, promote them, visit trade shows in the spa channel (and also in the gift channel), make sure your business and website are set up to sell and merchandise retail products, seek a professional to help you establish a retail area if it’s not your area of expertise, and start selling.