Alicia Anderson, owner of Stylush Salon in Fort Frances, has never looked back since she decided to apply for a Digital Transformation Grant. In fact, Alicia is amazed at how her digital and online efforts have paid off.

The salon offers all the usual services, but specializes in colour and technical perfection, ensuring cuts and styles that have enduring beauty. Alicia purchased the salon four years ago, and was lucky to have the previous owner stay on as receptionist and to mentor her as a new entrepreneur. But neither she nor her mentor could have predicted what was to come when the pandemic hit small businesses.

Alicia was quick to realize that bulking up her digital presence would be the answer to both her immediate survival and her future growth. That insight saved the day, and her new website and e-commerce capability generated enough online product sales for her to remain in business through the pandemic.

Social media brought customers to her e-commerce door. In just eight months, Stylush’s social media following bounced up by almost 40 percent, much of that driven by her savvy use of video. Alicia had used part of her grant to experiment with video, and its impact on her business was a revelation. Live, how-to videos that showcase various products not only gained her followers on social media, they also brought customers to her online store. In just one evening, Alicia sold more product online during and after a video than she normally does in a month.

Always looking for new ways to engage and promote online, Alicia formed a partnership with other businesses that complement Stylush and target the same market. The partners – Stylush, a make-up artist, a women’s clothing stores and a photographer – do cross-promotions, featuring each other’s services and goods on their websites and on social media.

Increasing her profit per customer was also on Alicia’s wish list, and her grant allowed her to make an initial investment in Salon Scale, a system that measures actual colouring used. This means that Alicia can charge customers based on how much product she uses in their treatment rather than a single blended price. Not only is pricing fairer to customers, but profits per customer have increased by $100 on average.

Alicia is sold on e-commerce. Based on her experience to date, she is confident that e-commerce will boost her revenues by an average of 30 percent per year from now on, even once the pandemic is over. She plans regular live-video evenings, and will take full advantage of social media, particularly Instagram. With a four-year-old and an 18-month-old close at hand, she is also considering adopting more digital tools such as online bookings to free up more time and increase revenue. When it comes to online and digital, Alicia Anderson is now surely mentoring her mentor.

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