Retailing With a Human Touch

Lisa Starr
Creating a human-friendly retail experience at your spa or salon.

The annual Global Shop conference draws over 10k attendees to see what is new in the world of retail, especially from the perspective of store design and planning.

Exhibitors show the newest floor and wall coverings, shelving, lighting and music systems, and technology options to enhance shopping or speed of checkout. My favorite part of the event is the conference that accompanies it; many presenters who collect and study data and trends on shopping behaviors, share insights that can be valuable for the salon industry. Yes, many consumers are purchasing their haircare products online, and we have even more channels to compete with us now for the client dollar; mass merchants, specialty merchants, drugstores and even the supermarket all offer salon products. 

Fortunately there is still a “human” element, and always will be in the salon experience. One of the best presentations on this issue was a panel moderated by Christian Davies, Executive Creative Director at marketing and brand consultancy FITCH. Panel members included high-level representatives from Starbucks, Walgreens, and The Futures Company.  

Anthony Perez, Director of Concepts for Starbucks Americas said that at Starbucks, they are focused on the interactions that happen within “the last 10 feet,” meaning in front of the counter. Starbucks feels that many of their investments, including offering healthcare for part-time baristas, don’t always make sense on the income statement, but the results are apparent in the customer loyalty and relationships created in that last 10 feet. He said that “Experience without humans is a vending machine.” Starbucks also pays a lot of attention to what clients are saying; Perez cites that their 36 million Facebook “likes” have come up with 620 ideas that have been put into place in the stores.  

Moderator Davies presented “The Human Issue,” 7 trends shaping current retail reality.  They are:

1.    Simplicity – shoppers want less clutter
2.    DoTank – the “think tank” of the past; consumers are creating and repairing their products
3.    RealReal – consumers crave slower, more meaningful experiences
4.    Me-Tail – desire for customized solutions
5.    We-Tail – using brands as a device for change, conscious capitalism
6.    Daily Escapes – new ways to break the tediums of everyday routine
7.    Digital Dreams – using technology to enrich, not replace, the shopping experience

I found this concept to be of great interest, since all of these concepts (except perhaps #2, we don’t want clients making their own shampoo!) to be relevant for salons. Edited retail selections so as not to overwhelm, enjoyable personalized experiences with companies that have a social conscience, those are elements of a salon visit.

You can read more about these concepts or even create a staff meeting or training grounded in these concepts. Keeping your staff members engaged in retail and their role in it is crucial to maintaining retail sales momentum in today’s environment. If you’re attending ABS this weekend, you can shop with these ideas in mind.  



About the Author

Lisa Starr

Lisa Starr brings over 30 years of industry-specific experience as a consultant, educator and writer to Booker through GOtalk. Lisa also works for Wynne Business, a leading spa consulting and education company. Among other things, Lisa’s expertise lies in business operations and finances, sales and marketing, inventory management, human resource development, and business process improvement. She is a well-known speaker within the trade show circuit and is a frequent contributor to industry

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