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Industry • Best Practice

How to Improve Salon Inventory Management With New Software


By Boulevard

Real-time updates and in-depth sales reports can turn the challenge of inventory management into an opportunity

Wind the clock back just about a decade and salon inventory management looked like a very different beast. Knowing what to buy in the first place was a guessing game; judging when to buy more was done almost entirely by intuition. That wouldn’t be a problem if the stakes weren’t so high. Realizing you’ve run out of color right before an appointment is one of the fastest ways around to lose a client.

Modern technology has stepped in to help salon managers and owners up their inventory management game. Here’s how data can drive a more efficient (and profitable) salon inventory management system.

The challenges of salon inventory management

Knowing what you have

The fundamental question of inventory management, no matter the industry: What do we have on hand? At your salon, you use so many tools and supplies that it would make your clients’ heads spin. Robes, gloves, styling clips, disinfectant, a variety of hair products, and more are all critical for keeping service running smoothly.

Failing to track even one of these supplies accurately can lead to some embarrassing mix-ups. If you only realize you’re out of toner when a client comes in to get their colored, they’re not exactly going to be thrilled.

On the flip side, if you order a new shipment of conditioner only to realize you have gallons hiding in another closet, you risk your product losing efficacy before you can use it. Add retail products to the equation, and you’re looking at the twin dangers of lost potential sales and deadstock. When 20-40% of cosmetics industry products end up as waste, it’s the duty of salon owners to try to minimize their own contributions.

Almost as bad as running out of supplies is being unable to find them — especially if you’re running multiple locations. Say you run out of gloves at one salon, but you check your inventory and see you should have another few boxes. What gives? Well, there’s a pretty good chance those boxes are sitting at another location entirely. Your salon inventory system should be able to break down your inventory by location to help you avoid that confusion. If it doesn’t, you may find yourself resupplying more often than you need to.

Building the budget

Your budget is at the core of all your ordering needs. If you can’t accurately forecast how much stock and supply you need over a certain period of time, generating an accurate budget becomes very difficult. By the same token, if you don’t know how much revenue you can expect from a product, you can’t make an informed decision about how much more to invest in stocking it.

And it’s not just about money — at least not directly. Manually tracking inventory eats up a lot of time. Turning that data into a budget stacks another chunk of time on top. Without great salon inventory management software, you could lose countless hours each week to inventory management. That cuts down on the time you can spend improving your business.

How a modern salon inventory app helps

Automatic real-time stock updates

Leveraging advanced salon inventory management technology starts with more accurate quantity tracking. As soon as an appointment wraps or an item is sold, your salon inventory app can automatically update your inventory to reflect any changes. With up-to-the-minute inventory tracking, you don’t need to worry about booking appointments you’re not equipped to handle. If the schedule is full of color appointments, your inventory will prevent you from booking more than your toner stores can handle. It’ll also give you a forward-thinking heads-up to order more.

Great salon inventory management will take it to the next level by helping you stockpile usage and sales data. When you know how quickly you go through each of your supplies, you can start to nail the timing around ordering more. Translation: no more empty (or overflowing) closets.

Rapid re-ordering

Now that you know exactly what you have on hand, you need tools that help you streamline the ordering process. One option: templates. By building orders from a preset foundation, you can skip many of the headaches that come with formatting PDF invoices.

Rather than manually input all your information, a salon inventory app can pull information from your previous orders to speed things along. Are you frequently turning to the same supplier? Your app can save their information and paste it into a template. Trying to add particular items to the order? Use a search tool and filters to sort the products you’ve purchased in the past, then add them one at a time or in bulk. Set your quantities, generate the invoice, and send it off, pocketing the time savings.

When you can modify those templates in your salon inventory app, you can speed things up even more. Rather than chase down each supplier individually, look for salon inventory management that lets you store their information in-app.

Highlighting high-performers

Remember that inventory movement data we mentioned earlier? Here’s where it starts to get interesting. Advanced salon inventory management software can use that information to generate reports that reveal all kinds of insights about sales and usage. Want to know which products move the most units? What about which ones generate the most revenue? Or maybe you want a heads-up when a product sees a sudden spike in sales? Done, done, and done.

That’s not data for data’s sake, either. You can use it to reinvest in your high-performing items, doubling down on their success. If certain products do well in certain seasons, you can plan to stock more in peak periods. And if you know what your clients love, you can use those products in promotions. If membership clients can get a discount on their favorite product just for referring a friend, everybody wins.

Clear projections

A solid grasp of your resupply cadence provides more than peace of mind — it also informs your budgeting and planning. Knowing exactly what you’ll need to spend on supplies empowers you to build more accurate budgets that are easier to stick to. Combine that with the information you’ve gained around sales, and you can more accurately project how your business will perform over the timeframe of your choosing. If you’ve got big plans for the future, this cash flow data will help you put them into action.

Inventory may not be the most glamorous part of salon management, but it’s a key component of any business’s success. With the right software solution, you can take the stress out of the process and focus on taking your salon to the next level.

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