Kiplinger calls 2018 “a good year” for retail sales, ending with an increase around 4.9 percent over the 12 months before. The business forecasting site anticipates 2019 to be positive as well, with retail sales expected to increase by more than four percent in the months ahead.

As a massage therapist, you have the ability to capitalize on this trend by retailing topical products in your massage therapy practice. However, if this is something you’re interested in doing, or you’re currently retailing topicals and want to improve your sales, there are a few factors to consider.

1. Types of Topical Products You’ll Retail

The first is the type of topicals you offer. Options include lotions, gels, oils and creams, but there are also considerations related to:

  • Scent (or no scent);
  • Active ingredients, such as menthol, capsaicin or methyl salicylate
  • All-natural or organic topicals;
  • And more.

If you’re struggling with which types of topical products to retail at your particular practice, massage therapist Sharon Farber says simply, “sell a product that really works. If you offer an affordable product that makes them feel better, they’re likely to buy it.”

Though she’s been selling a variety of retail products for decades—some of which include homemade shea body butter, music CDs, hot packs, candles, salt lamps and crystals—Farber says that she has finally landed on a topical product her clients seem to really enjoy. That product is cannabidiol oil, better known as CBD.

“I sell hemp extract CBD oils, which sell much better than any retail item I’ve ever carried,” says Farber. “The beauty of these topicals is that the same extract can be used orally and topically, and they’re often very effective at relieving pain and inflammation.”

Regardless of what type of topical products you decide to sell to your customers, Farber suggests that the key to increased sales success is to offer a product line that “has no harmful ingredients or negative side effects and is reasonably priced.”

2. Promoting Your Topical Products

Once you’ve decided which types of topical products you will retail, the next step is to promote them to your clients. Farber says one of the ways she does this is by using these products during her massage therapy sessions. “If [clients ] have pain or discomfort, I offer to use them during the massage,” says Farber, “which brings attention to them.”

Another way to promote the topical products you sell is to offer sample sizes. This way, your clients can try them without having to purchase an entire bottle and risk that it won’t meet their expectations. Farber says that she has .33-ounce samples her clients can purchase if they’d like. She also sometimes just gives them away, giving her clients the opportunity to see what they think of them with no monetary investment whatsoever.

Though it may seem like you’re losing money by doing this, Shopify reports that giving away free samples can actually boost your total product sales by 2,000 percent. That makes them more than worth your initial cost.  

3. Your Retail Topical Product Display

When selling topical products in your massage practice, it’s important to display them in a way that makes it easy for your clients to see each one, as well as to find any type of topical they may be looking for.

“I have the bottles neatly arranged by type on a bookcase which also displays other retail items,” says Farber. “In addition to that, I have three sample bottles of the extract and a bottle of gel capsules on a pine chest where I display crystals and jewelry and pendulums. They are very visible.”

The key, says Farber, is to “put them where clients are likely to notice them so they can ask about them.” This gives you the opportunity to educate your clients as to which ones will likely offer the most relief based on their individual health conditions and needs.

4. Don’t Forget Online Topical Sales

You don’t just have to sell your topical products in your physical practice, either. If you have established an online presence, you can sell them there, too. “I have them on my website,” says Farber, adding that she also talks about them in her monthly newsletters.

Taking this approach makes it easier to reach individuals who may not be in your geographical area, but are still interested in the topicals you sell. This opens you to more retail sales in the year ahead—which will make 2019 a pretty good year, too.

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