Spa Retail: Electric Spa Devices

Electric spa devices for home use are rising in popularity and demand. Check out experts’ best ideas for retailing them at your spa.

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Spa professionals are increasingly engaged in a debate over whether or not it’s a good idea to sell at-home treatment devices. Some believe it will weaken the client/esthetician relationship, allowing clients to serve as their own, at-home estheticians; others trust that their roles as professional practitioners are solidified by such devices.

Regardless of where you stand on the topic, you can’t deny that at-home esthetics devices are growing in popularity. According to a recent report from global beauty and wellness intelligence outfit Diagonal, 70% of women would like to get their hands on one. “Cleansing brushes, light-based platforms and skincare systems have created a huge new market worth billions, despite the fact that this segment didn’t even exist a few years ago,” the report states. “Just as the electric toothbrush and hair iron changed oral care and hair-styling, these devices are a new benchmark in skin care.”

As long as the public is clamoring to enhance their home skincare regimens with these appliances, does it stand to reason that spas should be among the first in line to provide them? Can such esthetics devices deliver the sales bonanza you’ve been seeking? Possibly, say experts, if you know how to make the most of them. We went to several device manufacturers seeking the best ways to select, stock, display and sell at-home electric spa devices. Check it out, and then decide whether it’s time for you to hit the “On” button on device retailing.

Manufacturers Panel:

Leticia Giron, C.E.O., Belleza & Beauty
Lisa Wolfe, spa channel manager, Clarisonic
James Young, VP of sales and marketing, General Physiotherapy
Kate Prais-Szakal, VP of sales, NuFACE
Drew Abe, manager, ReFa USA


What types of devices are most popular among consumers right now?

Giron: Small, deep-cleansing brushes; hair-removal devices; radiofrequency items for firming and toning skin; and high-frequency devices for acne treatments.

Prais-Szakal: Red light therapy and microcurrent are becoming more popular in the day and medical spa settings. For optimal results, clients should receive 10 to 12 treatments, but because this requires considerable time and cost, today’s clients are gravitating toward at-home devices. As people see that all sorts of home devices can maintain and enhance their spa treatments, the trend is just becoming more and more popular.

Young: Our LED light therapy device is the most in-demand of all our devices at the moment.

Abe: Anything that’s antiaging will continue to be popular in the market—we all want to look younger. Devices for hair-removal and tooth-whitening are gaining steam, but there hasn’t been a major breakthrough there yet.

What’s the best way to handle selection, then stocking and inventory, of these devices?

Abe: The very first step is to purchase a device for your own use, and recommend your estheticians do the same. By using it at home for a couple of weeks, you will find out how the device actually functions. If you like the results, show it to several loyal clients and ask for their input. If they become interested in buying the product, purchase the minimum quantity and gradually introduce it to your clientele. Once you have a few units left in stock, place another minimum quantity order. This way you can avoid inventory overstock.

Prais-Szakal: I recommend displaying a minimum of six units to maintain strong presence. This will differ according to each business, but it’s a good rule of thumb. Once you get down to three or four units, I would suggest a replenishment order of 12 units for the most profitable wholesale pricing—because if you aren’t able to provide a client with what they’re looking for, they will find it somewhere else. One of the nice things about offering electric devices is that you do not have to worry about product spoilage!

Giron: Order three months’ worth in advance and consider all upcoming promotions. If something big is coming up—Mother’s Day, Fourth of July, etc.—the inventory should be greater.

Where and how should at-home electronic spa devices be displayed?

Young: The reception or waiting area is an ideal location. The retail boxes can be stacked and displayed on open shelves or a horizontal furniture surface in an attractive and interesting manner, with one product unwrapped and put on display. The retail packaging should ‘sell’ the product and ‘show and tell’ its functional application.

Wolfe: It’s also important to have product education materials on display, to help clients understand how to use the device.

Prais-Szakal: I recommend a table, featuring enough inventory to convey a strong retail presence. Keep a demo unit near the register to entice customers to ask questions at checkout or check-in.

Abe: I agree; the devices should be somewhere clients can easily reach and try them, such as a countertop near the cashier. That way, front desk staff can engage clients in conversation about the product and foster interest. Also, it’s a must to display a tester of the device.

Can you recommend specific retail sign verbiage that can help boost sales of these devices?

Giron: Don’t wait for your next appointment, do it yourself! Or, Night time, day time, any time… Be beautiful again.

Prais-Szakal: I’d go with before-and-after photos that make clients stop, look and think, ‘I want the results she got!’

Abe: It helps to have a signature display stand featuring the device, as well as brochures, posters and any supporting data. Comments from staff about their experiences using the device can help boost sales as well—some of our client spas in Japan posted handwritten accounts of their experiences using our device, and they received amazing client feedback.

What should a spa staff know about selling these devices?

Abe: First of all, the owners and staff need to be comfortable using the product themselves. Share with clients your own experiences, and communicate devices’ benefits using your own words. Loyal clients already trust their estheticians, so your true, professional opinion is very valuable in purchasing decisions. And let curious newbies experience it—even for just a few minutes—at the beginning or end of their regular treatment. The best way to generate sales is to have your clients feel the benefits, firsthand.

Prais-Szakal: Offer an ‘enhancement treatment’ as a creative way to introduce clients to the technology. This costs you little to nothing, and can also drive service revenue as it helps to further incentivize retail sales. If sales are sluggish, delight customers with a complimentary add-on to their basic facial. Also, keep beauty-oriented devices on hand at the makeup or brow bar. They’re often a favorite discovery among brides-to-be and mothers of the bride.

Giron: Staff training for long periods is not cost-effective, so include clear instructions and provide technical support until the client feels comfortable using the device on her own. At the moment of sale, offer a clear explanation, making sure the client understands procedures, and send her off with a concisely worded manual.

How can spas ensure that clients are satisfied with their purchases?

Prais-Szakal: Make sure they’re well educated. Host an event in which you invite clients into the spa for a mini-treatment and instructive demonstraton. We recommend treating one half of the face, showing guests the difference in a mirror and then having them do the other side themselves. This gives them a feel for how to continue using their device at home.

Abe: I recommend posting an online video that shows how to use the device.

Wolfe: Conduct follow-up calls to ask about clients’ experiences with the device and, if applicable, remind them to maintain the device—cleaning, etc.—on a regular basis to ensure optimal performance.

What do you say to the spa owner who fears that selling these devices will keep clients from coming to the spa regularly?

Young: Just the opposite is true. Retail devices drive clients back to the spa/salon more frequently as they encourage them to stay informed about the best and latest technologies available to them. Carrying these products shows that your spa is on the forefront of all current technology.

Giron: Look at it as your best helper. When your client comes in, you can concentrate on issues that the machine can’t treat.

Prais-Szakal: Nothing can replace the power of the human touch. At the end of the day, it’s always nicer to have someone else treat you. But devices really do work synergistically to enhance services. When clients get a taste of advanced home care, they typically want to ramp up professional treatment—many of our partners report that carrying our devices has actually helped increase service revenue.

Abe: It’s very difficult to replace the total experience of a treatment with a single device. But not everyone can afford to go to a spa for regular treatments. Using an at-home device will help clients and whip their skin into better condition. Then, they’ll get even better results from your services! Spas also need to maintain their competitive edge in a marketplace where consumers can easily purchase devices from online stores or other retailers. Establishing good communication with clients, so that guests seek advice from estheticians instead of researching and buying items online, is key.