There are more than 40,000 beauty supply stores in the United States. There’s a reason for the strength of that industry.
Start-up costs are truly up to you, as much or as little as you choose. And the beauty supply store business, both as a physical location and an online seller, is predicted to increase as an industry.
We’re going to tell you how to open a beauty supply store, at a physical location and online.
What is a Beauty Supply Store?
A beauty supply store may sell a wide range of products, including hair care, cosmetics, nail care, fragrances, skincare, and more.
A beauty supply store may sell to salons, licensed professionals, and individual consumers.
How to Start a Beauty Supply Store Business: 14 Crucial Steps
Whether you operate from a brick-and-mortar location or an online location, you’ll face stiff competition in the beauty products market.
Your beauty supply store will be competing with salons, box stores, specialty stores and even infomercials. How do beauty supply businesses make it in the beauty products competition?
The keys to success are starting with research, followed by careful planning, to keep your costs low. And having a retail customer experience will put you that much ahead of the game. We’ll start with tips for opening an actual store.
1. Come Up with a Mission Statement
A mission statement describes what your business is and why you chose to sell beauty supply products.
Do you want to empower customers, help them learn which beauty brands are their best options? Do you want customers to leave your retail store with beauty products specifically chosen for them?
What standards have you used to select the products that will be available in your store? How did your personal values figure into those decisions?
2. Decide on a Niche and Beauty Brand
Most successful beauty products businesses sell a wide range of products. But a niche can exist within those sprawling products. Choosing a niche can help keep down costs.
For example, do you want to focus on anti-aging products? Currently, anti-aging products, especially creams and lotions, are leading sellers in the beauty products business. Do you want to sell baby care products?
3. Know Your Target Market
As in many businesses, you are selling to all adults – not just women – with purchasing power. Your market will depend on your local and regional demographics, including age categories across all genders.
In addition to age, the climate of your area could have an impact. Chapped hands during the long winter? Need for sunscreen and skincare products during months of hot weather?
Knowing your customers is an important part of your research before you start a beauty supply store.
4. Research Local Beauty Supply Stores and Check Out the Competition
Don’t limit yourself to researching other local beauty supply stores. Yes, they are your competition.
Remember that your competition also comes from television and online advertising (infomercials), box stores, discount stores and specialty stores.
After you learn what all these suppliers have, choose the brand of products that will set your store apart from the competition while keeping your costs down.
5. Write a Business Plan
The beauty supply store business was impacted by the pandemic as salons were deemed nonessential and forced to close. Yet that’s when consumers turned to beauty supply stores.
Accept that there may be times when your store is closed. Including the capability for online orders and shipping in your business plans is crucial to your success.
Your business plan should also include plans for operations and future growth. The majority of people who start a beauty supply business don’t go the sole proprietor route. They choose to form an LLC, which protects you from personal liability involving any issues with the products you sell. Or they may form an S corporation, where owners can join by buying stock in the company.
6. Research Licensing, Permits and Fees
Here are the basics you’ll need: business license, taxpayer ID/Employer Identification number, employee handbook and employment agreement forms, an operating agreement (if you’re an LLC).
Be cautious if you plan to operate in a mall-type setting. Some of these have “no competition” standards which would preclude you from opening if your store is deemed to compete with an already existing store. For example, there’s a discount store with a row or two of beauty products. Research regulations or agreements involving a group of stores before you try to establish your store there.
7. Decide on a Budget
Remember that every beauty supply store started from scratch. You can too.
You can keep your costs low when you start by limiting the amount of stock you order for your store. That way you can concentrate on your branding, and see what’s selling and why. You can analyze your customer base, which may be different from the market you targeted.
You can lease or buy your store.
8. Decide on a Location – A Large Mall or Shopping Center?
As we stated, some large malls or shopping centers may have regulations on the type of store and the numbers of them that they’ll allow there.
It makes sense. You wouldn’t want to open a beauty supply business in a large mall or shopping center and have another beauty supply business open at the same location.
When you’re considering a location, answer this question: What will my hours of operation be? If you’re at a mall or shopping center, your Open for Business times will most likely be the same as their hours.
The location you choose for your store should be well-positioned, easily visible in a well-traveled area.
9. Hire Amazing Staff
Put a big star next to this topic. This is crucial.
Anticipate that each of your customers will want to ask a question about products. You’ll need staff who are knowledgeable, people persons who genuinely love the beauty business.
A large beauty store may need a number of employees, who finalize payments using a cash register or contactless system. They may also work out on the shop floor. Remember that customers have options. Customers can buy beauty supplies from a number of outlets. But they’ve chosen a beauty supply store because they expect to interact with knowledgeable people.
10. Look Into Insurance Policies
The types of insurance you’ll need include: basic/general, liability and health (personal) insurance. If you have employees you’ll need workers’ compensation insurance.
An insurance broker can steer you to the policies that business owners need.
11. Research Inventory
Most buy inventory from a beauty supply distributor. Some individual manufacturers may send you samples. That will help you reduce costs.
What to buy, and when? How can you keep costs down? You’ll need to plan a few months out to make sure you have stock as needed, especially seasonal products.
As you research products, check the profit margin on each. The average for the industry is 40%, but some profit margins are higher for beauty supplies.
Obviously, inventory will be one of your biggest costs. Right behind that is setting up your store.
12. Make Your Beauty Supply Store Presentable
This is not an area to cut costs. You want your customers to enjoy shopping in your store, finding it easy and pleasant.
Here are some general rules to follow:
Revolving main focus display – For example, is it prom time? Arrange appropriate cosmetics and hair care at the display. Summer is here? Lotions for skin should be front and center. School shopping? Time for accessories.
End caps – End caps, which are the displays at the end of aisles, should also revolve as places to direct customers focus.
Try and Buy Settings – Trying new products is a key part of shopping at beauty stores. Provide small samples that customers can try and keep, using those items to set up a sale.
13. Consider Investing in Point of Sale Software
Truly, this is not just a consideration when you’re weighing costs. Point of Sale software can do much more than tabulate a sale.
Choose software that can accept various methods of payment and also calculate inventory amounts as items are sold.
14. Market Your Business and Build Up a Customer Base
In addition to quality and pricing, you must excel at customer service. Customer service is the way to build up your customer base.
You can also:
- Send introductory letters to business leaders
- Place ads in various media and social media
- Use a website to announce discounts and sale themes
- Offer special promotions, such as prom specials, makeovers, seniors’ days and discounts for referrals.
Don’t be afraid to take your show on the road. Get a booth at any type of area show or convention. Offer toiletry bags, or theme gift bags.
How to Open a Beauty Supply Business Online: 15 Top Tips
1. Create a Mission Statement
An online beauty store is an eCommerce store. As such, its mission statement will mirror a mission statement for a physical store.
However, there’s a key difference. You want to take steps to make it easier for shoppers to order products and have them delivered to their homes. In your mission statement for your business, explain why you want to do that.
2. Decide on a Niche and Beauty Supply Products
Selling online means that you have to consider the items you sell in another way – how easy can the items be shipped?
Many beauty items, especially hair products, are liquid. They can break or freeze during shipping. As your choosing the brands to carry, ask the suppliers questions about the best practices for shipping the product.
Make choices with an eye to establishing your brand identity and the focus of your business.
3. Know Your Target Market
Your customers are people who are seeking convenience, and that’s where to tailor your marking efforts.
Many salons order from large distributors. Although it’s hard to compete with operations of that size, you can level the playing field with superior customer service.
4. Research Your Competitors
What are the brands that your competition sells? Are there certain lines of cosmetics or hair products that are commonly sold? Can you stand out by offering a different type of similar product?
5. Research Online Business Models
How are you going to handle making sales from your website? There are different types of business models, and you may also mix them by-product, or product groups.
The seller takes orders but transfers the orders to a manufacturer or wholesaler. The order is shipped from the manufacturer or wholesaler.
Wholesaling from a Warehouse
To cut costs, the business owner buys a product in large quantities and then resells the product.
The business makes its own specialized product and sells it online.
A product is made by one company but packaged and sold by another company, under a different name.
6. Write a Business Plan
Your business plan should include the type of products you will sell and how you’ll ship them. It should also include information about plans for future growth.
7. Decide on a Starting Budget and Consider Business Costs
You can keep costs down as you begin your online beauty store by focusing on one type of product. That’s important as you establish your brand and work to build traffic to your website.
8. Buy the Perfect Domain Name for Your Beauty Supply Business
The perfect name for your website sets the stage. You’ll use it everywhere, not just on the website. It will be a marketing tool. Buying a domain name may be one of your significant start-up costs, but you’ll be paid back tenfold.
It will be on boxes, business cards, Facebook and invoices.
Your chosen name should lend itself to a logo, as an aid to marketing.
9. Decide on a Beauty Supply Store Theme and Logo
The store theme and logo should tie to your business name. Don’t limit the potential growth of your beauty business by focusing on one aspect of the industry.
For example, using a logo depicting nail care tells people that those are the products they can expect to find from your business. Unless you do want to focus on one aspect of the industry, keep it more general.
10. Sort Out the Legal Stuff and Register Your Business
In the beauty supply industry, the majority of people opt to form a limited liability company. That’s because an LLC protects an owner or owners from personal liability.
11. Purchase Business Insurance
You’ll need general business insurance and general liability insurance, as a minimum. Other required insurance depends on how you’re doing business – such as whether you’re owning or leasing, or hiring employees, for example.
12. Research eCommerce Platforms
You’ll be amazed at what an eCommerce platform can do for you. eCommerce platforms are software that helps sellers manage their business. They often include accounting and inventory management.
Some of the leaders in the industry are Zoho Commerce, Shopify and Big Commerce.
13. Create an Amazing eCommerce Website
This is an important step in marketing your business – so important that outsourcing is a great choice. The best sites are those which make it easy to find products, order them and pay for them. The best sites are worthless if they’re not linked to search engines.
A search is a key part of navigation. You should have a menu with a table of contents that makes it easy to find products by searching with keywords.
The home page includes your business location and contact information for customer service. You should include a contact page, and also options for contacting you by phone or email.
This page is about you, your employees and the type of products you sell.
Content and Blog Posts
Descriptions of products and blog posts should be short. Whenever you find an article about a product or technique that you like, provide a link to the article. An article can answer a question, or create buzz about a new product.
This is the strength of a domain. In short, it’s an “authority” that gives your business a preferable position from someone using a search engine.
14. Market Your Site
How can customers find you? Marketing.
Find an article you like? Share it on social media. In addition to an article, create an ongoing blog, or comment on the blogs of others. And always use your business name.
Search Engine Optimization
You can do this, but you may want to use a professional. SEO optimization means that your business will pop up in search results.
Create and share online material, such as blogs and videos. Hugely popular in the industry are tutorials about how to use a beauty product.
Influencers are hired to work outside of your business, providing content such as blogs or social media videos, designed to lead shoppers to you.
15. Build Up Your Customer Base and Start Making Sales
Build the size of your customer base by keeping things interesting with promotions and sales, and information such as an article or tutorial about new items.
Is owning a beauty supply store profitable?
The amount of profit for a beauty store is tied to its size. A smaller store may make $5,000 while a larger store can net $200,000 and up.
How much does it cost to start an online beauty supply store?
This also varies as to the size of your line – the amount of inventory you’ll hold. A typical start up cost for a small operation is from $2,000-5,000.
Can I open a beauty supply store with no money?
Good question, and it’s been done. If you’ve been involved in the business with a proven track record, you may find it easy to raise capital. You can raise capital by tapping your friends, family and business associates. Or you can raise capital by going to a lender.
You don’t need a wealth of capital to start. A well-written business plan will be a valuable asset for a person. Suppliers may extend credit.
How much does a beauty supply store owner make?
Both a store owner and an online seller should begin to turn a profit in 4 to 6 months. How much depends on overhead – whether you own or lease, and the cost of your insurances, utilities and staff.
At a minimum, online or in-store, a beauty supply store owner should net from $35,000 to $70,000 annually. The amount you make in a physical location can be tied to where you are – in a big city location you can make from $100,000 to $300,000 annually.
You can make as much as a beauty supply store with online sales. Remember, when the actual stores are closed, you are still taking orders online.
More in: How to Start