These days, you need to realize revenue from every available source, maximizing both service and retail potential. Many articles have been written about how to retail more products, improve the average ticket, and drive repeat business. But you may be missing an income opportunity that exists right under your nose concerning two products used in most spas every day—treatment robes and sandals. Both are an integral part of the spa experience, and yet few spas put any thought or energy into retailing these everyday items. There are, however, many ways to improve this particular revenue stream.
Spa directors and owners typically spend a lot of time evaluating robes for spa operations. The act of arriving at the spa and shedding one’s clothing in order to be enveloped in a soft, extravagant robe can set the tone for the entire spa visit. Most clients probably already have a robe at home, but a utilitarian bathrobe is no match for a high-quality spa robe. Recently, I checked into a spa and was pleased to discover that my locker had not one but two robes in it—a heavier, more traditional robe and a light waffle weave, so I could choose the one in which I would be most comfortable. What better way to introduce a client to their new home bathrobe or spa sandals than by giving them the chance to try them out at the spa?
After putting all of this thought and energy into outfitting clients comfortably while at the spa, you’ll create a perfect tie-in to let them know these products are available for sale so they can continue their spa experiences at home. There are many spas that do retail a version of their spa robe, but the typical scenario is that there are a couple of a particular color folded on a high shelf somewhere, far from the eyes and fingers of clients perusing the retail shelves. If spa robes and sandals were more of a featured item, we might actually sell more of them. Certainly, robes and sandals take up more retail room than a lot of the small items with which spas usually line their shelves. But they can be a very useful item for clients who will think of your spa every time they slip on their robe or sandals.
To begin, consider the robe you currently use in your spa. Do you get a lot of compliments on its fit, style, or comfort? You should be hearing that at least a few times per week. Hopefully, your clients’ robe color and styling is consistent with your brand image. Sandals tend to be more of an afterthought, although not deservedly. Traditionally, there have been fewer choices in this category. Offering sandals with a comfortable fit or fun styling would likely lead more clients to want to leave with a pair of their own. So before you make a retailing plan, make sure you are happy with your current in-house selections of these items. It will be much easier to sell versions the clients have already tried.
“Your spa robe is likely to be a durable, one-size-fits-all selection, so you might offer this plus a similarly styled, more luxurious option for retail, with more sizing choices,” says Jenny Farrand, education and training director for Universal Companies. “Look to your spa theme and decor, and select robes and slippers that match the vibe, whether modern, traditional, funky, or Zen. You can also consider changing your options seasonally. In summertime, feature light, silky robes and flip flops, while winter brings cozy floor-length flannels, herbal heated slippers, and neck wraps.”
Most spas stock primarily one-size-fits-all robes for client use, which is much easier from a laundering and supply standpoint. However, for home use, clients are more likely to want a robe that fits properly. Merri Gleckler, president of Kashwére, recommends using a large size as the core offering but having a selection of small, medium, and extra-large robes, as well. “A consumer prefers a robe on the larger side, but not so large that they are double-wrapped when the robe is tied,” she says. “So when making size selections for retail, consider your client-guest gender ratio—more men means you would want to have larger robes on hand.” The same goes for spa sandals. Spa sandals by both Sensi and OKA b., for example, come in a broader sizing array, rather than by traditional S-M-L shoe sizes, making it easier to stock fewer and still have the right fit for your customers.
When it comes to merchandising robes and sandals, they definitely do take up more room than your typical spa products. However, they can also be an attraction in your retail area. Guniz Alkan, president of A La Turca Textiles, says robes should be displayed on dress forms rather than hangers, if at all possible. “Not only are the forms more visually appealing, but robes by nature are rather bulky and don’t show themselves best on a hanger or while folded,” she says. “On colder days, retail-shop associates can even wear the robes while ringing up sales, which makes things fun.” If you do not have room for even one dress form, then at least attempt to have one of each available style on a hanger, with back stock in different colors and sizes available. Vendors can also provide you with swatches of the available fabrics in lieu of displaying each individual robe.
If your retail space is not constrained, Gleckler suggests creating a lifestyle concept display that allows guests to envision themselves wearing the robe while surrounded with other products they would likely be using at the same time, such as socks, candles, eye masks, air diffusers, or throws. “For guests who like less assistance, informational cards should be available that describe how to use and launder the robe, or offer celebrity endorsements,” she says. Joanna Roche, vice president of the Andrew Morgan Collection, suggests a small card or hang tag accompanying the robe the guest is presented at check-in, or signage in the locker rooms, letting guests know that the robes are available for retail. Environmental issues also play a role in robe retailing. “Depending on your spa’s brand vision, words like organic, fair-trade, Eco-Tex certified, and child-labor free can be a deciding factor for your clients,” says Alkan.
The same rules apply for retailing sandals. Hanging options appear to do the best job of displaying the different options and sizes to clients. OKA b. offers a specific display fixture that is compact and keeps the shoes neat and organized. Sandals are certainly also easy to promote as the client is likely wearing them during their spa visit and will be able to realize how comfortable they are. Leigh Copin, vice president of Sensi, also recommends that an information card or copies of editorial from magazines be available nearby. “In addition to a variety of marketing materials and point-of-purchase signage, it is important to explain to the guest the particular benefits of the sandals, whether it is the reflexology-inspired design, an ergonomic footbed, antimicrobial qualities, or the fact that they are recyclable,” says Meredith Garcia, public relations manager of OKA b. Sandal merchandising can be done with robes as well as with associated products like manicure and pedicure items.
In general, the same rules of retail apply to this category as any other. Make sure your retail area is well-lit, clean, easy to access, and visually appealing. Also, consider your pricing policy. Roche says spas and salons tend to overcharge for their robes. “There is really no need to triple the wholesale cost,” she says. “You will sell more pieces using a standard keystone markup.” As for the logo issue, “your in-house robes should certainly have your spa logo, but over the years, I have found that most consumers prefer purchasing robes without logos,” says Gleckler. “But the robe will still provide a wonderful reminder of their spa experience.” Farrand advises that “robe and sandal purchases are impulse buys, so make sure to provide offerings that are unique and different from what your customers are seeing in retail stores.”
Increase your spa retail revenue by investing in robes and sandals from the following companies.
A La Turca Textiles
Andrew Morgan Collection
Bath Accessories Company
Beech Sandal Co.
Chadsworth & Haig
Hollywood Face Microfiber
Luxury Spa Sales
Telegraph Hill Robes
The Turkish Towel Company