A NAILS reader recently said via e-mail, “When I approach manufacturers to get an account to be able to purchase mass quantities of certain items, I’m told, ‘Sorry, you have to buy from a distributor.’ However, I am constantly buying out my distributor. If manufacturers were willing to let single-location salons order direct in large quantities at a cheaper price, more salons would have the supplies they need.” We took her comment straight to the manufacturers themselves to find out if, and why, this scenario rings true with them. Their responses are below.
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VP of Sales and Marketing, OPI
North Hollywood, Calif.
Since the industry’s inception 25 years ago, professional nail manufacturers have followed the traditional, 100-year path of the professional beauty industry by serving salons through professional distributors. This three- way partnership has worked well for all of us, with each group adding value to assure our ultimate customer a happy experience.
Nail manufacturers are not able to efficiently serve the nearly 60,000 nail salons in the United States. Even if we tried, there would undoubtedly be many unhappy salons. Moreover, if manufacturers cherry picked the best salon accounts to serve directly, distributors wouldn’t have the economic incentive or ability to serve the small- to medium-sized accounts.
Professional distributors carry a broad range of product categories and brands for hair, skin, and nails. They add real value, not to mention the education they offer, the follow-up customer service, and the professional store shopping experience. Without them, salons would have fewer choices and less service, as would our ultimate customer, the consumer.
CEO, Young Nails
Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
Should manufacturers sell direct? That’s a really tough question. Many manufacturers go with distributors for the simple fact of geography. The distributor is able to market and promote more effectively in their local territories. Distributors spend thousands of dollars to build their local markets, so their clients will be aware of their products. To sell direct, after your distributor has helped build the market, is hard to do. Most manufacturers won’t sell direct for this reason alone.
Still there are other reasons why manufacturers don’t sell direct to salons. These can be legal reasons — some manufacturers have contracts with their distributors, and they can’t sell direct. There can be structural reasons. Most manufacturers are not geared for distribution and going direct would require a completely different structure.
At Young Nails, we sell through distributors, but we do sell direct in areas where we don’t have distribution. But we definitely won’t sell direct if we have representation in an area.
Director of Operations, Entity Beauty
The dynamics of every salon are unique and manufacturers should take the time to address their needs individually. At Entity Beauty, we believe educating the technicians who purchase our products is the first and most important step. All products have a specific shelf life and recommended storage instructions that should be made available to inquiring technicians by all manufacturers.
If a salon adheres to these guidelines and doesn’t purchase more than its technicians can use within the determined timeframe, then purchasing in bulk will offer great savings potential and a larger return on their investment.
Salons should always look to partner with a manufacturer that will provide the ideas, tools and training and that will accelerate not only their art but their business as well.
At Entity, we sell direct to technicians here in the U.S., and we use distributors internationally.