Retail isn’t Dead at the Spa!


Retail May Be Dead, but Not at the Spa! Why do department stores still out-sell spas in the retail arena?  Am I having a bad dream or is this really happening?!

  • They don’t know the clients’ skin type.
  • They aren’t licensed in skin care or beauty.
  • The lighting is dreadful.
  • The price points are high.
  • There is no evidence of an overall homecare routine.
  • A lot of the products are inferior.

Not to be negative but can we wake up now?  Why aren’t we selling more retail?  I find the entire situation sinful, inexplicable and depressing.


Clients go to a spa to relax, sure. However, more and more they also visit a spa to receive a treatment that provides results. Looking at one’s skin under a Woods lamp is depressing but it is also freeing. “That nasty mess is my skin?”  “Mmmmmmm Hmmmmmm.”  A well-known skin care manufacturer tried placing skin scanners that would show each client their skin under a Woods lamp (a brilliant idea) but their sales staff dropped the ball. They aren’t skin care experts. They will never be skin care experts. Can’t we simply decide to rule the world and sell homecare?!

Trying to Buy

Talk about difficult. Many years ago, I went to a counter of a brand known for customizing foundation color. “We only do that at our high-ticket counters.” “Oh, where is one of those?” I went rather frustrated and confused only to encounter a nightmare. The makeup would have been better blended by anyone off the street–ANYONE. The experience was not up to speed and I left wondering what to do next.

Around the holiday season of this year I needed a simple hydrator. I’m not a complicated consumer but I do have sensitive skin. I accidentally fell upon a department store counter and asked for, “fragrance, color and everything else free—just a hydrator.” What happened next was astonishing. The clerk pulled this cream (a really good product) out of the dungeon. No samples. No advertising. The product was totally hidden. “You might want to try this,” she said.  “Is this a new product?” “…Or maybe a test product?”  “Why are you keeping it hidden?” I was stunned. “Is this a contest to not sell things?”  The clerk had no idea of what was in the cream. The clerk didn’t really interact with me. The clerk made the sale but why?


So…let’s step back and think. I am not a good example of the typical consumer. I had a crisis and needed a hydrator. Years ago, I broke my toe and, in my torment, snubbed a chocolate treat and instead found a new lipstick. My point?  I didn’t go online and order a lipstick.  I wanted the same immediate gratification of a sugary treat, but in a color cosmetic. If you lose the captive audience opportunity you are done. Educate, refine their vision and then sell them homecare. You are sinning if you cannot do this. You are losing the customer if you do not do this. You are not being a professional if you fail in this arena. Dramatic, yes. True? Mmmmmhmmmmmm…!


Prescribe!  Hello, you just worked on their skin. What do they need?  Did you explain it to them? When I coach spas, I oftentimes watch estheticians flounder until they are simply failing and then in one minute I sell roughly $5,000 of services and products. That isn’t my ego, that is reality. How? I know what to sell and I assume the sale. “You are sick with Meningitis.” Is there a choice about what to do next?! Prescribe the best solution for each client. If they need it—give it to them. Tie the at home prescription to a professional treatment plan.

Confidence is key. Whether you are a manager or a technician I hope you understand your profession. Tell it like it is. Lay it on the line. Speak your truth!  Retail selling should be your mission because that activity is a part of a professional service.

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