Today’s tech-savvy consumers represent a large and influential market and the latest figures from the United Nations show that global e-commerce grew by 13 per cent in 2017, hitting an estimated US$29tn (€26.5tn, £23.4tn). But with spas up against e-commerce giants like Amazon, which is starting to operate in the pro-beauty retail space (see SB16/4 p56), the landscape is a competitive one. Help is at hand, however, in the form of software companies offering spas the technology to navigate the market, opening up new ways to interact with clients to enhance their guest experience, while at the same time helping to monetise the relationship.
Setting up shop
Selling beauty products and other branded accessories – think anything from mugs to loungewear – to customers online is a particularly exciting way for spas to generate extra revenue. Yet, this function is still very much in its infancy with only a handful of operators such as Canyon Ranch, Golden Door and Deep Nature setting up their own webshops.
At present The Assistant Company (TAC) is one of the only spa software providers to offering this functionality through its integrated, responsive webshop. MD Günther Pöllabauer says: “Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland uses our TAC Webshop where they offer various products. The software can link the online product sales up with the in-house stock levels. When only a few products remain, an alert message is generated.”
Leonie Wileman, COO of Premier Software, says her company is currently developing this capability for the future. She adds: “The demand for software which enables visitors to be able to book spa days, appointments and classes is in much higher demand than selling beauty products online. However as spas diversify and expand their online capabilities, the need for an e-commerce function will become a ‘must-have’ feature.”
Open all hours
The most obvious e-commerce platform for spas is online booking, the preferred method of booking for up to 25 per cent of spa-goers, according to a new ISPA study (see SB19/3 p74). It enables spas to book at anytime, whether the doors are open or closed, yet it’s something that many operators still haven’t embraced.
Frank Pitsikalis, founder and CEO of ResortSuite, says: “Built on a guest-centric technology platform, ResortSuite Spa allows guests to choose their services, spa treatments, activities and dining reservations while enjoying a simple, intuitive and quick online booking process using a single electronic payment. This not only allows guests to easily book their entire experience in real-time, but also enables spas to generate revenue 24/7. Our solutions allow spas to showcase everything their property has to offer in ways that are easily accessible and engaging to the modern generation.”
Premier’s Wileman agrees with this sentiment: “Core by Premier Software has been developed as the complete business software solution and includes multiple functions to enable spas to boost their revenues 24/7.”
She adds: “Online is our most advanced sales tool as it enables spas to sell spa days, packages and memberships, among other offers. One of our large independent spas witnessed a 20 per cent rise in spa bookings in its first month of installing Online, and this is steadily increasing.”
Gift for all
Being able to explore and easily book and buy everything a spa has to offer in one place using a single online transaction is key to e-commerce says Pitsikalis, adding that gift cards and certificates are a great revenue stream.
Mylisa Henderson’s use of ResortSuite WEB to sell gift cards online has proved highly successful. The director of sales and marketing at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain in Ontario, Canada, says: “The purchaser receives their gift card email immediately, regardless of whether the purchase was made during or after operating hours and they also receive a separate receipt email. We’ve seen an increase in quantity of sales online, as well as in the overall revenue average per gift card sold. It’s also reduced our phone calls to order gift cards together with our postage and delivery costs. The online store also gives international customers a one-stop solution regardless of time zone.”
Jeff Dickerson, CEO of DaySmart Software, makers of Orchid Medical Spa Software, says there are a number of ways spa operators can derive more revenue from customers: “One of our most commonly used methods is the ability to sell and manage spa gift cards. By integrating our software with our payments partner, CardConnect, spas can securely store clients’ credit card details on file.”
He adds that this also “enables the sales of memberships to more active clients; a great source of passive recurring income.”
TAC has found the main drivers to boosting clients’ revenues to be gift certificates as well as the real-time online booking. Pöllabauer says: “Our Webshops allow our clients to extend the opening hours of their shops virtually, a huge boost to profit, with purchases and bookings made throughout the night. Our TAC software is like a toolbox, depending on a spa’s needs, different options for maintaining the relationship with its customers are possible such as membership cards, special rewards or gift certificates.”
Spas can create additional revenue by providing software solutions that engage with customers and collect data about their preferences at every touchpoint of their journey. This allows for better and more focused communication which results in deeper connections meaning superior customer satisfaction and, of course, extra revenues.
And sometimes something simple can make a make a big difference says Wileman who reports that one Premier Software client “has seen a 7k per cent return when investing £20 on an SMS text campaign”.
Alice Smithson, marketing manager of iSalon Software, says: “Email and text marketing can be used to run targeted campaigns to win more clients by using offers such as ‘recommend a friend’ or personalised birthday messages that come with a discount code. Appointment reminders can dramatically reduce no-shows, by 60 per cent on average, and our automated templates allow owners to set the campaigns and let them run automatically,” she adds.
Where reaching out to customers is concerned, Mindbody uses its marketing suite to help spas rescue lost customers. Its Booker platform enables consumers to book and pay for treatments online, while also allowing for membership purchases, gift card buys and retail transactions. Using an AI-driven formula, its marketing functionality sends out customised emails and alerts with the intent of driving back lost customers to the business.
Dan Chandre, Mindbody’s VP strategic development, says: “This is a powerful engagement and retention tool that has proven incredibly effective and one that we are continually refining.”
While it might seem daunting to set up an e-commerce option for your spa, it’s a simple process delivering multiple benefits. Mobile technology is now ubiquitous, shifting guest expectations in the process, with spas needing to stay ahead of the curve in order to engage with and meet the needs of a large and influential market. As Pitsikalis asserts: “Guests appreciate when they are provided with a choice, accessibility, speed of delivery, ease of booking and, most especially, personalisation.” Get it right and your spa reaps the rewards.