A Wellington hair salon is taking the ecommerce market by storm. We spoke to owner of Sable, Anthea Digby-Smith, about how she manages the rapid growth of her online store as well as running a full time business.
Tell us about how Sable isn’t just a typical hair salon, what gap in the market does your salon fill?
Being in the CBD there are no boutique salon’s around us, they are more generic brand heavy and use more chemical based products whereas we stock more organic and even a vegan range of haircare.
Our salon also isn’t just a production line, we only have three stylists currently and are generally fully booked out at least a week in advance. Most of our clients have been coming to us for at least 5 years, our most loyal clients have been coming for over 20 years!
What went into the development of Sable, where there any large barriers you had to overcome or adapt too?
After almost a decade working as an employee for top hair salons around the country, I decided I wanted more autonomy and founded Sable (along with my husband Brendon in 2008) - owning my own Salon has always been a dream of mine and I haven't looked back since. We didn't have any barriers when we opened - other than your own nerves and stress of doing it on your own!
How do you particularly target the market of professional women?
All our clientele is mostly word of mouth, with the salons location and aesthetics also playing a part in who we appeal too.
We recently had a new client book in because she had read a review about one of our stylists on Facebook.
How long into the business did the online store and site launch?
We launched our online store in 2013 after the salon’s 7th birthday, but had website since opening which originally only displayed our location, and basic information on one page. We then moved to a multi page website in early 2013 which led onto our ecommerce site.
What do you find the most difficult about selling ecommerce as well in such a competitive market?
To be honest the only thing difficult is being able to predict what will sell next so we don’t miss out on sales! It can be surprising how we can completely sell through our stock in a specific product over a couple of days when no one has brought it previously for weeks on end.
We are curating our product selection to be more of the hard to find, luxury brands so we aren’t competing with huge warehouse company’s that just sell any product they can get their hands on. We want to be able to stand behind our range and to only carry brands and products we would recommend to our clients.
Your ecommerce market took off rather quickly, why do you think it saw such a rapid growth?
We didn’t have any competition when we started, other online stores just offered standard products such as Loreal and Pureology, products that were household names found in most salons.
Your online store holds some very high demand and luxury products, how do you go about curating and making sure these products are high quality?
Having the salon has gone hand in hand with our product selection, as we are able to test out new brands or products on our clients.
Oribe is our newest haircare range so we switched to using Oribe Shampoo and Conditioners at the basins and were surprised how much softer and shiner the client’s hair we had been shampooing for years was instantly. Being able to recommend a product to someone because you know it will help them with their hair and make it more beautiful is what we enjoy doing.
Best sellers include Olaplex and Cloud Nine.
Tell us about the marketing and social media investments you made to get your product offerings more recognised.
Our advertising consists of google AdWords for capturing people searching for brands we carry. We also use Facebook ads, which consist of boosting content we post or advertising our online store and the products we carry that people might have heard of like Olaplex.
We have just started to venture down the salon ambassador route on instagram, with local Wellington influencers Refined by and The Leo Style.
Last month you made $17,000 in product sales and are forecasting growth for 2017 to $200,000 – how do you think you’re going to secure that finial goal?
We have just joined Laybuy, (New Zealand’s version of ‘Afterpay’ which has had phenomenal success in Australia over the last year) and have noticed a huge increase in traffic, sales and average spend already.
This payment method will definitely be instrumental in securing and not only succeeding, but surpassing our predicted growth.
Paired with our ambassadors we will expand our social media reach over the next few months and open up new awareness and target markets we have not yet reached through ad space.
How do in store sales and profit compare to that of the online store?
At the moment its comparable between in salon and online sales but we expect the online store to eclipse in salon sales going forward.
What products sell the best online, and how do you go about making sure they’re available to customers?
Our staple products on our Best Sellers List is Olaplex – a revolutionary hair repair product Kim K used when taking her hair from Dark Brown to Platinum without damaging her locks, Oi Shampoo and Conditioner by Italian brand Davines, Living Proof’s Dry Shampoo recommended by Jennifer Aniston and the best dry shampoo on the market and Australian Original Mineral’s Hydrate and Conquer Shampoo and Conditioner.
Mostly the products that we feature regularly on our channels are more boutique brands that only a few (if any) stock in New Zealand let alone are available to purchase online. A lot of our online sales are to Auckland and rural cities.
We use a back in stock app connected to our website. This allows customers to be notified when a product is available again and lets us know there is a demand for that product.
Do you find the success of the ecommerce store takes away from your physical store, how do you find balance within such a fast paced industry?
Only on Tuesdays when we come back to three days worth of online orders that we need to sent away so our customers can get their orders asap! The majority of our customers will receive their order within 24 hours of their purchase, so Tuesdays are always a busy day packing and dispatching orders received while the salon is closed.