In Medina, OH, Salon Rootz is an unlikely David to Amazon’s Goliath. This award-winning salon offers close to 300 professional products on its website—including three Bio Ionic tools and salon gift certificates—and fulfills orders not only from the salon’s clients, but nationwide. In fact, according to Salon Rootz Director of Marketing and Operations Manager Jen LeBlanc, the majority of the salon’s e-commerce customers are not salon clients. “Buyers find us through Google searches,” she reveals, “and here in the Midwest many of the products we offer are not readily available. So we discovered we can compete online.”
The result of Salon Rootz’ efforts are impressive—an uptick in retail sales between five and seven percent. And that’s not the only benefit. The e-commerce function has allowed Salon Rootz to reduce the amount of inventory on the shelves. If a client wishes to purchase something that isn’t in stock, he or she is directed to purchase the item online. LeBlanc will then order the item and ship it overnight for free. Marketing efforts such as a Constant Contact email campaign for “Summer Beach Bag Musts” for example, drives traffic to the Salon Rootz website. And one more thing. “The weight of the search engine optimization that each product carries would be worth the investment alone,” says LeBlanc, “even if we didn’t sell a single product.”
For the hair products offered on the site, LeBlanc worked out an agreement with the manufacturers to sell their products online. Salon Rootz also offers Bio Ionic tools, which LeBlanc purchases from Salon Centric and ships. “We have three Salon Centric stores within driving distance,” she explains. “I assessed the numbers, and because I do the work myself, it turned out to be worthwhile. We signed an agreement with our Salon Centric rep and with Salon Centric’s corporate team to allow us to do it. Now we sell more tools than anything else.”
LeBlanc handles order fulfillment, and Salon Rootz offers free shipping. “Packaging and shipping sounds intimidating,” she admits, “but it’s not. I went to the post office and got hazardous material stickers, which I put on every package to be safe. I pack everything in bubble wrap and out it goes. I have a little shipping area in my office. Our average shipping cost is $2.80 and the lowest is $1.20. So I’m ok with offering free shipping to keep people buying with us.”
The benefit to clients is what keeps the Salon Rootz e-commerce business going strong. “They can order 24/7, including gift certificates,” LeBlanc explains. “They can send a gift certificate directly to a friend. They can get things that aren’t available in their areas. We have so many customers who have been burned on Amazon—they know ordering from there is a risk. Also, our customers really do want to support us.”
LeBlanc is something of a whiz with technology, so she built the Salon Rootz website, including the e-commerce feature. But she believes even if the business had to pay someone to set up the e-commerce function, it would be worth the investment. “Any salon can grow into it,” she says. “Maybe you offer a smaller number of products like your top 25 sellers or other easy buys. But absolutely get your feet wet—get in the game as soon as possible.”
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