This article by Katilin Keefer originally appeared on squareup.com.
The beauty industry is made up of resilient, determined, and creative business owners that put customers’ needs and experience above everything else. This past year may have put them to the test, but the industry as a whole is rebounding with a new outlook and new priorities.
Now more than ever, beauty and wellness sellers have a complex set of needs ranging from communication tools, in-person and online booking, sales, and contactless payments. These are the trends they’re looking at to take their business to the next level.
Deeper customer connections
The beauty industry is built on customer loyalty. While closedowns temporarily halted appointments, customers are eager to get back to their regularly scheduled appointments as the industry opens back up.
Keeping customers in the loop amidst safety concerns, closings, and re-openings is top of mind for beauty sellers. This year, staying connected and building stronger relationships with customers is a key focus for the beauty industry. Here’s how you can do that:
- Keep customers informed with email marketing: Staying top of mind and keeping customers informed are key benefits of utilizing an email marketing service. Schedule automated trigger campaigns (emails that are set up to automatically send when your customers take a certain action), advertise promotions, and communicate scheduling or safety information straight to your customer’s inbox.
- Enable easy and open communication: Make yourself available to customers with questions or concerns. When customers reach out they often expect quick responses, with 88% of customers saying that they expect a response from your business within 60 minutes. Direct messaging tools, like Square Messages, aggregates all of your communication channels in one place so that you can easily view and quickly respond to customers.
- Meet customers where they are on social channels: Your social channels, especially Instagram, are a visual reflection of your brand and can be the reason that customers book an appointment with you. Make sure to create opportunities for customers to interact with your business, like including links to appointments in your bio or creating shoppable posts.
- Reward customer loyalty: Your customers are your community, and each time they visit your salon or engage with your business on your other channels, they should leave feeling excited to come back again. A loyalty program that rewards customers for their business, and can be integrated across all of you channels, cultivates a loyal customer base by understanding and meeting your customers’ needs.
Streamlined scheduling and appointments
Digitizing your appointments and schedule should be a priority so that you can focus on the customers in front of you. With so many other considerations for beauty owners to think about, having an appointments tool that manages your schedule and gives customers autonomy over selecting their booking date is key to your success.
An appointments service not only gives you control and clarity over your business, but a self-service model like Square Appointments gives customers the control to choose their appointment, make changes if they need to, and trust that they’ll be reminded leading up to the date. An online appointments tool is also open 24/7, meaning you won’t miss out on making an appointment because no one was around to answer the phone. In addition, it’s one less task for your staff to worry about, so they can focus on their customers. A reliable and clear service gives customers peace of mind and the trust that when they show up for their appointment, you’ll be ready and waiting for them.
Online selling and booking
In 2021, beauty sellers are expanding their business into multiple streams of revenue. Many are — or are interested in — starting an Online Store to sell their products and services. This is also a great solution for sellers who have branched out on their own during the pandemic and are getting their own sites up and running. The benefits to an online store:
- The store is always open: Customers can shop, peruse, and book appointments at whatever time is best for them.
- Inventory opportunities: In a salon, you might be limited by shelf space, but an Online Store allows you to broaden your inventory. This opens up opportunities to increase cash flow and attract new customers.
- Customization to reflect your brand: Choose the colors, layout, font style, and pages that give the best first impression of your brand.
Livestreams and video tutorials
Your customer base doesn’t have to be limited to your geographical location. To engage with your audience from afar, you can try videos and livestreams to showcase your services, create tutorials, advertise products, and engage with your audience in new ways. This is also beneficial for customers who aren’t quite ready to head back to the salon and are looking for at-home tips and guidance. When starting off with videos and livestreams, a few things to remember are:
- Stick to a theme or topic: Before pressing record or going live, have an idea or topic that you plan to discuss.
- Write an outline or script: Draft up a quick outline with talking points, especially for livestreams, to make sure you hit the key points that you want your audience to hear.
- Give customers a heads up: Whether it’s through email or on your social channels, let customers know about planned lives or where they can find recorded videos to engage with later. This increases the likelihood of a larger audience and gives customers something to look forward to from your brand.
- Practice makes perfect: If you’re recording a video, you have as many chances as you need to make it perfect, but if you’re going live, set aside time beforehand to get comfortable in front of the camera.
- Find the right timing for you: Don’t feel pressured to make really long videos or stay on live for hours. A 5- to15-minute video packed with information can be extremely helpful, especially if your audience only has a short period of time to tune in.
- Have fun: Most importantly, have fun with it. This is a chance for your current and future customers to connect with you and your brand and get excited to book an appointment, now or in the future.
Contactless payment options are a priority for customers and an increasingly popular trend for businesses. Here are your options when it comes to contactless payments:
- Mobile pay: Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay are all examples of mobile payment options. With tap-to-pay functionality, customers can use their mobile phones to pay for their purchases.
- EMV chip payments: To avoid passing a card back and forth, credit card chips enable customers to quickly insert their card into an NFC Reader, pay, and be on their way.
- QR Codes: A self-serve model for customers to pay is with QR codes. After scanning the code with their phone camera, they can add their credit card information and pay for a service all on their own.
Salons and beauty businesses are in an ever-evolving era where they are branching out, diversifying their skills and revenue streams, and focused on connecting with customers on new levels. In 2021, the digital tools that enable salon owners to keep up with this mindset are at the forefront of how beauty professionals are building and growing their businesses.
About the Author: Kaitlin Keefer is an editor at Square where she covers everything from how small businesses can start, run and grow, to how enterprise companies can use tools and data to become industry leaders.
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