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60 October 2014 | beautystorebusiness.com Skincare Spotlight JS: Skin care is the jewel of our stores. Skin care creates more brand loyalty than any other beauty category. If my customer happens to walk into Nordstrom to buy shoes and someone shows her lipstick, she might buy it. But she will most likely not go for the newest moisturizer. INDIE BOUTIQUE VS. ANYWHERE ELSE We can compare selling skin care versus selling other types of beauty products. And we can compare selling skin care in an indie boutique versus selling skin care in a larger store concept. Scott and Turner agree that selling skin care in a boutique requires more personal attention and time given to customers. KT: Whereas people don't walk into a Sephora expecting a relationship but rather expecting a product, in a boutique setting the high-touch, personal service by truly knowledgeable and caring staff is essential. OTHER TIPS & TRICKS "For first-time customers, we sometimes recommend that they bring in their cur- rent skin care and show us what they have, what they are using, and also what they have but have never used." Make their visit like show and tell. This actually also works well with makeup. Position it as education (which new products can work with her existing products), or as a "toiletry kit makeover." Make sure to emphasize expiration dates when you do this; you would be amazed how many women have had the same sunscreen for the last four years. "Be flexible on the return policy; per- haps not in writing, but in practice." The official return policy in all three bou- tiques is that "we don't take returns." But I know from having spent time in all stores that the reality is returns are indeed accepted, in particular from loyal customers. However, as Turner puts it, "If we do our job right to start with, we don't have returns." Don't shop your customer's wallet." This is one of the hardest rules in retail— and goes beyond skin care, beyond beauty actually. Show them everything you think they need and then we discuss the practicalities of budget. WHAT'S AHEAD? Scott is truly excited about the forum of beauty stores he has created in a state that continues to be shunned by the likes of bluemercury. He came up with the concept of "forum": "It is like a forum of customers, of great entrepreneurial minds, a forum of brands. A true collabo- ration." When I asked him about what's next, he doesn't mention another store, but rather a consolidation of logistics and distribution. JS: I would love to have a distribution center to centralize orders, inventory. With a retail business bringing in more than $1 million in revenue, I think cen- tralized purchasing and distribution will enable us to leverage economies of scale and facilitate operations. Given what he has accomplished in the last few years, I have no doubt he will deliver on that plan. ■ Ada S. Polla is the president and CEO of Alchimie Forever. She is the co-creator of her family's Swiss-based skincare line, which she launched in the United States in 2004. Her skincare knowledge and business skills have yielded double-digit annual revenue growth for the brand. She holds an MBA from Georgetown University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University.