Nail techs are buying supplies online, but what about big-ticket items like pedicure thrones, nail care stations, and drying tables? What the forward-thinking retailers are doing to bring value to the digital shopper.
More and more salon furniture retailers -- both manufacturers and distributors -- are working to improve the nail tech's online buying experience. (Photo courtesy J & A USA)
So you had a good year and figure it’s time to give your salon a facelift. The pedicure chair looks shabby and your table was new when Bush was president (the first one). Investing in new salon furniture shows clients that you are progressive and care enough about them to provide the best possible salon experience. Spend your money wisely, and you could end up recouping it quickly with increased sales volume.
Still, making a decision to spend hundreds, or even a few thousand dollars, on new furniture is a big step for anyone. Beyond the price factor there are other decisions that can keep you awake at night, such as:
- Will it fit my salon space?
- Will it be comfortable?
- What if I change my mind or need a repair?
- Will it last a long time?
- Is it the right style for me and my brand?
A lot of these questions will be answered by you as you do your homework. But you should also look to the source for help — namely, the manufacturer or distributor you’ve decided to purchase from. One way to evaluate them is by how well they come across online to give nail professionals a positive buying experience.
Disruptions in Furniture Buying
The days of the good old dependable furniture store downtown are gone. In its place are a host of options both online and offline; or sometimes, a combination of both. Nail techs, particularly the Millenials (ages 18-34), are on the whole very comfortable shopping online for practically anything. Furthermore, with mobile being more often than not the first place a product is actually seen by a prospective buyer, furniture suppliers need to make a good first impression no matter where the final transaction ends up taking place.
“Furniture retailers that create a modern shopping experience marrying both online and in-store channels will be the ones that succeed in this category,” says Erica Blute of Blueport Commerce, a furniture retailing e-commerce system provider.
What this means is that nail professionals should expect a good user experience through all the steps of a purchase. For the supplier, it means amping up the value in at least one of its most competitive arenas:
Convenience: Nail techs have busy schedules; they don’t have a lot of time to shop. They’ll peruse online sites for salon design ideas and product information. Making this process stress-free and rewarding will pay off for both the store and the customer. Thorough product descriptions, easy ordering, and live chat service are some of the features setting online salon furniture suppliers apart from the rest.
Price: The idea that products are (or should be) cheaper online is pervasive. “My clients tell me they want cheaper pricing online so that’s what we try to provide,” says Albert Kim, marketing director of J & A USA. Competitive pricing online can work in a variety of ways, such as bundle pricing, free shipping (over a certain price point), flash sales, and through good email marketing campaigns.
Selection: Just like Amazon, the online world is a showroom without walls. By selling through their website or by other online venues, salon furniture distributors can carry deeper inventory on all of their lines, since they can simply coordinate drop shipping (the item is fulfilled and shipped directly from the manufacturer) with the brands that they carry.
Enhancing the Online Shopping Experience
Besides being mobile-savvy, today’s nail techs also have high expectations from their online experience. In short, it needs to be easy, informative, and even fun. A review of most of the premiere online distributors and furniture manufacturers shows that they are listening.
Lexor’s marketing team put together a fun video showing how to create a retail space within a small salon (see www.nailsmag.com/LexorTips). Lexor also offers spa furniture packages at a substantial discount.
Online shoppers can look at four 3-D salon layouts on Alfalfa Nail Supply's site. Pulsating buttons on each piece reveal additional product description, price, and an "Add to Cart" option.
Alfalfa Nail Supply also provides a unique way for online browsers to virtually browse a showroom. They’ve designed four 3-D renderings of nail salons with various combinations of nail bars, nail tables, and pedicure stations. Clicking on the pieces pulls up additional details, pricing, and delivery times.
Buy-Rite Salon & Spa Equipment offers packages online to help the nail professional bundle the furnishings she might need. For example, a pedicure “Spa Package” could include a Pibbs Footsie Pedicure Spa, along with a Footsie Footbath; a stool designed for proper height, comfort, and posture; and a portable trolley with three bins for supplies. The price is discounted slightly from what each piece would be sold for separately.
At J & A USA, a new responsive website was designed to enhance the online shopping experience no matter what size screen a shopper viewed. Images resize automatically depending on whether they’re pulled up on a desktop, tablet, or mobile phone display. Additionally, the site offers a large gallery of salon images to provide ideas and inspiration for the online shopper.
Salon furniture suppliers should have inspiring photos of finished salons that online shoppers can browse. Think Houzz! Here, Cabin Nails in Wisconsin uses good space design and coordinated furnishings to create cohesion in a small space. (Photo courtesy Cabin Nails/Standish Salon Goods)
5 Ways to Create the Perfect Nail Space
When considering furniture and equipment for the nail area, versatility is the name of the game. Standish Salon Goods in Dallas, consults with nail techs both locally and around the globe to help them marry style, budget, and value. “By reducing clutter and having quality, functional equipment, you are creating an atmosphere that is optimal for relaxation,” says Tiffany Boyle, merchandising and site manager.
A two-station pedicure setup with coordinating stools and thrones is punctuated simply with a shared cabinet in between. (Photo courtesy The Body Barn/Standish Salon Goods)
Here are Standish’s five tips:
1. Marry form and function. When clients come to have their nails done, it’s about beauty and relaxation — and your environment should always reflect this. A small space allows that to happen without the distraction of the usual hustle and bustle of a large salon space. Look for furnishings that are multifunctional and prevent clutter, and stylish wall decor like photographs and mirrors, in order to enlarge the space and make it look more attractive to the eye.
2. Storage with style. Proper storage is one of the most important things to master when you’re dealing with small spaces. Having a good trolley either for the nail table or a pedicure unit is key. Standish and other suppliers sells a number of pedicure trolleys that double as stools so you can always have the equipment you need within arm’s reach. One to consider: an American-made unit from Kayline called the Pedicure Pal.
3. Scale it down. Space-efficient equipment leads a double life. It moves, folds, collapses, or provides additional storage. Consider something like the Continuum Pedicute, which provides the quality of a major unit on a scale that’s much smaller and more affordable.
4. Use your walls. Whether it’s for hanging your nail polish displays or introducing a bench seating unit with a portable pedicure unit, your walls are a gold mine for functional salon space.
5. Curtain call. A recent trend that we call a “privacy hack” is having curtains between nail stations for manicures and pedicures. It truly makes the space seem private and quiet when it needs to be, and otherwise is perfect to fill in space for decoration that would otherwise be empty.