Contrary to popular belief, shoppers–particularly in the beauty space–still value a solid in-store experience. According to Shopify, 94 percent of retail sales occur in brick-and-mortar stores, which amounts to $3.9 trillion across 1.1 million physical establishments. Despite the fact that many consumers now shop online, a survey conducted by Retail Dive found that “56 percent of shoppers say they visit stores–at least occasionally–to first see, touch and feel products before buying them online.”
That said, the true challenge for beauty retailers is the competition. With national beauty retail chains and mass beauty offerings winning market share, smaller beauty retailers and independent stores need to play a strategic game in the ever-evolving beauty space. Creating a visually stimulating shopping environment within your establishment should remain a top priority. If you haven’t made any significant changes to your layout in the last six months or so, it’s time to shake things up a bit. And we’re not just talking a fresh coat of paint or new shelving. To truly compete and brand your business, you need to embrace the dynamic beauty retail climate.
“I would advise beauty store owners looking to revamp their store to optimize sales to think forward and embrace both design and technology to create a store experience that appeals to all of the senses and offers convenience for modern lifestyles,” says Joe Baer, cofounder, CEO and creative director of ZenGenius. Here are actionable tips on how to give your beauty business a modern edge.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PLACEMENT
Let’s talk product. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to be stocked with quality formulas and hot brands. How you present merchandise is key. You can’t expect clients to comb through every shelf and sample every product on their own. You need to make it easy. Shelf layout, placement and presentation are critical in making sure customers are led to your newest launches and money-making items and that their shopping experience is as seamless as possible.
CREATE HOT SPOTS
First rule of thumb, according to Baer: Create hot spots throughout the store that draw attention visually to your top sellers. “Install a hanging system above each hot spot to create dramatic and clever visual moments to grab the customers’ attention and draw them to the key item presentations. Investigate retail analytic strategies to better understand how customers are shopping these items and experiment with various techniques to identify the best techniques to drive sales.”
CONSIDER THE SEASON
Don’t just focus on brand campaigns. “Think about season relevancy–what would people typically be need- ing at this time of year? If there are key items you’re always verbally recommending to customers, they should also be recommended visually for all those you don’t get to speak to. This means putting the additional key stories in the key areas that educate customers about what is most significant right now.”
CREATE A BEAUTY PACKAGE
Ani Nersessian, founder of VM ID, says creating packages for beauty shoppers is of utmost importance as well. “Don’t assume that they will know to go to each zone to piece
the perfect beauty routine together,” she explains. “Make it very easy for them to add on all coordinating products to that core item they initially came to purchase.” So, for instance, when creating a corner for hair tools, ensure styling products and the like are not too far away.
DO NOT OVERSTOCK
Another central component in item placement is to keep your shelves organized and lightly stocked. “The most common mistake in terms of merchandising is over- stocking to maximize the surface space,” says Nersessian. “When you overstock, you are making it harder for the customer to actually see, since you’ve removed all breaks, focal points and zoning opportunities.”
DESIGNATE TESTING AREAS
When it comes to in-store testers, cleanliness and order are of the utmost importance. Make sure you invest in storage shelves and cabinets for these specific supplies. “It’s important to maintain these testing areas as much as possible and to reflect a clean, hygienic, fresh image,” she says.
LEVERAGE IMPULSE BUYS
According to research conducted by Invesp, eight out of 10 impulse buys are done at brick-and-mortar stores. Making strategic spots devoted to no-brainer items like lip products, cleansing wipes, nail polishes and travel-sized versions of best-sellers is important for any revamp.
“I recommend selecting smaller gift items at the register,” Baer says. “Special deals, new product samples, travel sizes and novelty gift items are always effective for adding to the average sale transaction. As modern stores and new check-out systems eliminate the need for long checkout lines, our impulse strategies will need to be considered as well.”
Meg Lefeld, global project manager and marketing coordinator for ZenGenius, elaborates on this: “Consider items that complement/support the beauty products you’re selling throughout the store: eye-shadow primer, lip primer, setting sprays, etc.”
A solid and effective impulse purchase should be accessible price point-wise. “In a nutshell, easy-grab items that always have purpose at a price point that is easy to justify” are the ones you should stock by the register or front of the store. Consider putting a price limit on these displays and create enticing signage around it to compel clients. For instance, creating an “Under $20” or “Under $10” table near the entrance can grab your clients’ attention and make for a quick, last-minute sale.
Along with beauty-centric pieces, playing off your clients’ daily needs and habits could be helpful in curating an enticing impulse-buy display. Essential yet often neglected items like gum, artisanal candies, hand sanitizer, candles and fun novelty items that align with your brand image can be great additions to your lineup.
INVEST IN IRRESISTIBLE VISUALS AND DISPLAYS
With so many options at their fingertips, clients need to be truly compelled and convinced to buy–which is where displays come in. Displays allow you to take patrons on a journey to their final decision. “Create visual displays throughout the store that tell a story,” says Lefeld. “For example, in November and December, give customers an idea for a holiday look and then incorporate video screens of people applying the products and attending a family party. The same concept can be used for New Year’s–you can promote a smoky eye/dramatic look and show people getting ready and having a night out on the town.”
And in this modern day and age, incorporating technology and digital displays is non-negotiable. “Video and/ or projection effects within a display are modern methods for effectively drawing interest to a product,” Baer says. “Create content that is visually and aesthetically pleasing rather than content that feels like a commercial or a hard marketing sell. Choose visual images that make you look and draw you in. Cool modern projection mapping techniques are being introduced into the store experience.”
Lefeld says interactive screens are included in this innovative technology. “Consider including augmented reality that allows customers to look at themselves in the screen and experiment with different makeup products without applying them to their actual skin. Then, take the technology a step further and allow customers to purchase the item directly from the screen,” she suggests.
Having a solid understanding of high-traffic points within your store is incredibly important for mapping out displays, says Nersessian. “When planning for displays seasonally, understand where your key feature zones are,” she says. “There is likely one at the entrance of the store where the main brand campaign would be featured, but there may be other areas that would be ideal as educational, curated sections, communicating additional key stories to customers. Always be on top of what is relevant seasonally, while catering to your local market.”
And, just like your shelves, make sure you don’t overstimulate or overwhelm your clients. “Visual clutter is one of the biggest common mistakes for merchandising and displays,” says Baer. “Too much information, too many graphics and too many small items all make it challenging to focus without getting overwhelmed–this can be especially true in the beauty industry.”
Think about the last time you visited a restaurant or hotel and found yourself admiring the general ambiance and inviting atmosphere. Didn’t that leave a lasting impression and make you want to return? As a business owner, you know it’s all about the little, unexpected details that can fuel client retention and repeat patronage.
Another oft-overlooked factor involves lighting. Without it, the merchandising and item placement you put so much time and effort into can fall flat. Just like your display strategy, identify the hot spots within your store with high foot traffic and best-selling products. Make sure these spaces are properly highlighted (literally) so customers can naturally gravitate toward them. “Lighting and labeling play a huge role for presenting products,” Nersessian says. “When you lack proper lighting to showcase your products and label them clearly, you are forcing [customers] to make more of an effort to shop. The more effort it takes, the more hesitation you are creating, losing sales opportunities.”
A couple of options you can consider in terms of lighting include accent lighting, which is used to bring out specific areas in your store. Try utilizing this strategy when highlighting new product/seasonal displays, within shelving to spotlight specific products or mounted above window displays. Another lighting investment to think about would be a decorative one like a chandelier or similar ornamental lighting installation. An intricate piece placed in or above a central spot in your store can add a touch of sophistication to your space.
NEAT AND CLEAN
“I’ve often thought that visual merchandising includes any- thing the customer can see,” says Baer. “This includes the hidden corners of the store, the open doors with views into the stock rooms, the inside of checkout areas and offices. Keeping these areas visually clean, organized and clutter-free adds to the store experience and reinforces the image of a quality and trustworthy business.”
Your clients’ experience is your responsibility from the time they enter your business to the time they leave. Ensuring they feel welcomed and valued the entire time is important. Making your space approachable and warm via friendly, upbeat signage goes a long way as well, says Lefeld. “Make leaving your store a positive experience for customers, too. Incorporate signage that thanks them for their time and brings a smile to their faces. You want to remind them they had a great experience in your store from the moment they entered to the moment they left.”