Choosing the right retail product range

What are the key considerations when choosing a retail range for a salon, clinic or spa, and a supplier partner for the experience?

That was the first questions tackled during the third instalment of Professional Beauty’s industry roundtable discussion.

Our nine industry supplier and salon owner experts – including Ultraceuticals’ Karen Wilkin-Donachie, OmniDerm’s Sue Dann, Ultraderm’s Pauline Valle, International Beauty Supplies’ James Carroll, Zing Business Coaching’s Jay Chapman, Beauty On Latrobe’s Clare Lamberth, Sharkra Medi Spa’s Tanya Ahmed, Focus On Skin’s Kellie Cohen and Skinsational’s Sarah Austin – discussed the ins and outs of retail sales, and all agreed, it was crucial the supplier and the salon had similar values and shared the same philosophy when it came to skincare.

Tanya said when choosing a skincare range or a retail range, you had to stay very true to yourself, while Clare said support after the purchase and education were deciding factors for her.
Pauline said as a supplier she wanted passion, commitment, and the salon to share the same philosophy as Ultraderm.

James said salons needed to be aware of how the pricing structure worked and the distribution of the brand, while Kellie and Sarah said communication was important to them.

Sue and James said you had to share the same core philosophy and your values had to align with the product company , while Karen said Ultraceuticals was very deeply rooted in education.
Read their edited responses below or watch the video for the full discussion.

“You need to stay very true to yourself, understand how you want to treat the skin and what modalities and what skin care you need to make that possible. I have been through quite a few skin care ranges, all of which are very professional, all of which have given outstanding service. Ultimately, then, it lies within yourself as the owner or the manager, the decision maker, of how you ethically want to treat your client. What really resonates with you and what sits really holistically with you and what you feel is going to give you the best results for your clients? Price point is secondary. It’s almost irrelevant. When you’re delivering quality and results to your clients, price point doesn’t even come into the equation.”
Clare: “Support after the purchase and education are such key deciding factors for me. I need to know whether or not my staff and I are going to be supported in the education of that brand. My staff need to be supported if they’re able to be armed with the tools they need to be able to carry out their roles as therapists. They need to be able to professionally recommend those brands and those products to clients, and their education needs to be ongoing. I like to know- they can hit the ground running and they can start their education process straight away. It’s understanding your customer, too. To understand what are the demographics of your area, of your business, and what do your customers want? Listen to your clients and get that feedback to be able to choose ranges that will best be able to service your clients’ needs.”

“As a supplier we want passion, we want commitment, we want the salon to share the same philosophy as us. We want the salon to head in the same direction as us. Of course, it’s absolutely paramount that we’re getting the results on the skin that your client so requires. When you’ve got that marrying together, we can only make such a great business between the two of us. That’s what we look for when salons are coming on board with us.”
James: “Salons need to aware of how the pricing structure works and the distribution of the brand, because, as a supplier, we need to make sure we’re able to have prosperity across different distribution channels. If a brand’s distribution is not controlled in the right way, it can mean that you’re not able to sell, and have to compete. It’s very important to choose an ethical supplier who tries to maintain the professional standard of the industry. Otherwise, you just find that you’ll do all the hard work, and you’ll end up with somebody who’ll undercut you on eBay.”

“Communication is important – to be able to speak to the supplier on the phone directly. Because often, you’ll be put into a position where you really need some answers, you might have some problems with a product or you might need more information. That ability to be able to speak directly to the people is really important. Sometimes, you might not even have what you need in your range. I’ve been involved in different products that we’ve put together with Ultraderm which have produced great results. At the end of the day, that’s what you want. You want results, you want your clients to be happy.”

“The (brand) choices are somewhat greater now than they used to be. The way you treat skin has also changed from when I joined the industry 40 years ago. You’ve got to have the core philosophy. If you have the philosophy as a supplier, and then you can find your salons that you’re going to be working with has the same philosophies, it’s a two-way street and it’s a win-win situation. That’s the important thing.”

“We’re very deeply rooted in education. We have to empower the therapists with the correct amount of information. That gives them the confidence to then deliver the service, but also deliver the professional recommendation to their guest, so that home care can be delivered when they’re away from the clinic or the salon. So, for us, education is actually everything. We look at more of a blended -learning approach, with online and face-to-face training. We’re in a world of anytime, anywhere, any place education. What’s on our mind is how we deliver that.”

“It’s important to have back-up and constant communication. A supplier that’s just a phone call away, which comes to the salon regularly to give us information that we can pass onto our clients and keep them coming back, is great.”

“Your values absolutely have to align with the product company. If you’re after something that’s more natural, organic, vegan, gluten free, whatever it is, your service offering has to support that. If I was looking for a skincare range, I’d be looking for something that is Australian-made and owned, and active because I want to see results. That’s not everyone’s value. Making sure your values align is important. Also look at price point – not how expensive or affordable the product is – but make sure that it’s congruent with your service offering. If you’re a very express, affordable service offering, it doesn’t make sense to have a very high price point product. It could be something that you consider to have more of a ‘beer’ option rather than a ‘champagne’ option for people that see value in a more affordable range.”

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