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What’s the Deal with Affiliate Programs for Salons?

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about using affiliate links, with several salon coaches and influencers recommending the idea to independent stylists and salon owners. But what is an affiliate program, and how does it work?

Written by
Cody Ukrich
Published on
17 Jan 2023

Simply put, an affiliate program is an arrangement between an online merchant (any retailer or brand selling online) and an affiliate (like you/your salon) where a commission is paid for every lead to the merchant’s website that results in a sale. Let’s say you recommend a liter-size shampoo and conditioner to your client and give them a link to buy the product on a merchant’s website. In the salon industry, that website likely belongs to a hair care brand or retailer. If your client buys the product, you earn a commission for that sale - assuming you’ve agreed to an affiliate deal with the brand or retailer. It sounds simple enough, but why would a stylist or salon want to do such a thing?

It’s a Growing Industry

The affiliate marketing industry is rapidly growing, with over 80% of brands using affiliate marketing programs. According to Statista, affiliate marketing spending has steadily increased year over year since 2010, meaning more companies are getting involved and investing more into this marketing strategy. Reaching over $8B in 2022, the amount spent on affiliate marketing has more than doubled since 2015.

What’s the Deal with Affiliate Programs for Salons?

The Benefits of an Affiliate Program are Enticing

With affiliate programs, you don't have to carry, pay for, or ship the products. For independent stylists or new salons, the idea of not having to stock, let alone bankroll, retail inventory is huge. Even established salons understand the value, as they can still earn a commission without giving up the physical space in their salons. Now that space can become another workstation, maybe two or three, or a selfie station to help promote the business.

How Much Can Affiliates Make?

The percentages vary greatly depending on the merchant and the industry. For beauty products, retailers offer the lowest commission rates - Amazon only pays 3-10%, ULTA offers 2%, and Sephora 4-10% - while some professional brands offer 15% up to 20% commissions to their affiliates.

Affiliate Links: Friend or Foe?

Affiliate links are pretty simple. You just recommend products to clients and give them a link to purchase the items. The link traces back to you, and the brand/retailer owes you a commission with any sales made through the link. So, what could go wrong? At first, likely nothing.Let’s say the first interaction between the merchant’s website and your client goes well. Your client is impressed, loves the website and the opportunity to buy online, and clicks the Shop Now button to make a purchase. The link they used to get to the brand or retailer's website is tied back to your affiliate number, so it’s on the merchant to pay you the commission. So far, all is good.Here’s where things can get hairy. The next time your client wants to purchase that same product or look for other options, let’s say they go straight to the merchant’s website. They browse, buy, and happily receive their purchase. So, what’s different this time? Your commission. If your client did not access the site using your unique link, the sale is not associated with you or your salon, and you don’t earn commissions on that and likely any subsequent sales. It may not sound fair, but it’s where merchants typically draw the line: once your client goes directly to the merchant’s website, they are now their client.What’s worse? Many of these merchants start marketing to your client with the first sale. They bombard them with product announcements and tempt them with deals to keep them coming back directly to the website, sidestepping the salon completely. Your client remains innocent in all of this. After all, you recommended the site to them, so they assume they have your blessing to keep buying there and accessing the site however it makes the most sense for them. You also have to admit that it’s far more likely that your client will remember the affiliate site or click on a link in a direct marketing email than return to your website or email with the proper affiliate link. Why take that chance?You might also like: The Downside of Affiliate Programs

The Right Way to Sell Online

It’s easy to see the value in offering a way for your clients to shop online, so why not open your own online store instead of resorting to an affiliate program? Never mind hiring a web designer to build a platform for you - it doesn’t have to be that complicated or expensive. Besides, you can only sell professional products online through an authorized eCommerce platform. With SalonInteractive, you get a free online store ready for you to personalize. You can choose your color theme, upload your logo, insert unique imagery, highlight your favorite brands, and make higher commissions than most affiliate programs on every sale. Just encourage your clients to shop online with you by sharing the link to your online store. They’ll love the convenience, variety of available products, and ease of use.

Streamlined Order Fulfillment

We’ve partnered with professional distributors across the country to create an eCommerce and order fulfillment solution that benefits the entire salon industry - starting with salons. We carry your clients’ favorite brands with orders shipped directly to their homes from your local distributor. The platform ensures that the salon can sell retail through authorized channels, even if it does not carry inventory, and will receive a commission on EVERY sale, not just the first one. And all promotions through the eCommerce platform lead directly to your online store, so you get the sale, and your clients get to support their favorite local business… yours! So, are you ready to take back your retail sales yet? Find out how!You might also like:

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