Salon Software Comparison – What is the best salon software?

Which Salon Software Should You Choose?

Salon software is a game-changing investment for your business… when you pick the right one! It is the cornerstone of the most important processes of your business – client bookings, retention, sales, product promotion, staff rostering and great marketing that gets people back more often, spending more and generating referrals.

So it’s extremely important as a business owner that you shop around, see what features are available from different providers and how do they align with your salon needs.

At Phorest Salon Software, we love to be honest and transparent. Knowing that software is such a big commitment, it is vital that we don’t hide anything from you at this important consideration stage (it will only hurt us both at a later date, right?).

That is why we wanted to show you a thorough head-to-head comparison with our competitors and show you where we excel, and in some cases honestly show you where we might provide a little less (usually to the benefit of a more important feature or service).

We explored the various platforms on the market, looking at key features, unique benefits and client support that not only help run a salon but also grow a salon’s business.
This is an overview of how the competition stacked up.


Software Phorest MINDBODY Vagaro SalonIris Schedul iSalon Millenium STX
Cloud-based Software
iPhone/iPad App
Android App
Salon industry-specific (not for gyms, yoga studios etc.)
Multi-location compatible
GDPR Compliant
Encryption of sensitive data
Scheduling Phorest MINDBODY Vagaro SalonIris Schedul iSalon Millenium STX
Online appointment booking
Bespoke booking app for your salon
Website integration
Automated appointment reminders
Facebook booking integration
POS Phorest MINDBODY Vagaro SalonIris Schedul iSalon Millenium STX
Cash register
Credit card & debit card payment processing
Barcode scanning hardware
Roving iPad/Tablet payment
Discount management
Gift voucher sales & payment
Customer Loyalty Phorest MINDBODY Vagaro SalonIris Schedul iSalon Millenium STX
Salon-branded loyalty card
Segment overdue customer bookings
Automated email & SMS communication (reminders, thank yous, review requests)
Referral tracking & rewards
Marketing Phorest MINDBODY Vagaro SalonIris Schedul iSalon Millenium STX
Dedicated Marketing support & ideas for your business
Ratings & reviews
Manage & respond to reviews on third-party websites (Google, Yelp, Facebook reviews etc.)
Social media integration & management
SMS & Email campaign templates
Segment and target database by age, gender, profession, location etc.
CRM Phorest MINDBODY Vagaro SalonIris Schedul iSalon Millenium STX
Client database & contact details
Client notes & history
Before & after photos
Automatic data backup
HR & Rostering Phorest MINDBODY Vagaro SalonIris Schedul iSalon Millenium STX
Roster scheduling & sharing
Commission management
Employee management
Employee portal & self service
Facility scheduling
Payroll integration
Stock & Inventory Phorest MINDBODY Vagaro SalonIris Schedul iSalon Millenium STX
Stock & inventory management
Sales tracking
Automated low stock prompts
Itemised order lists
Track stock transfer between branches
Reporting Phorest MINDBODY Vagaro SalonIris Schedul iSalon Millenium STX
Staff performance
Super clients
Third-party accounting software integration
Training & Support Phorest MINDBODY Vagaro SalonIris Schedul iSalon Millenium STX
Online training
On-site training
Hardware & IT support
Phone support
Email support
Online support
Video tutorials

As you can see, Phorest ticks the most boxes in terms of features offered, with MINDBODY and Vagaro running neck and neck in second place; Salon Iris, iSalon Software, Millennium and STX coming in around the middle; and Shedul in last place.

Below we’ll go into more detail about the pros and cons of each of our competitors and you can make up your own mind as to the best offering for you.

You can click on the links below to take you straight to the section you’re most interested in:



Phorest Salon Software vs MINDBODY

Phorest Salon Software’s passion for the salon and spa industry is something that we take very seriously. Phorest is software for salon businesses only, so we put the salon first in every decision we make. This, we believe, is one of Phorest’s greatest strengths.

MINDBODY is business management software that salons use. However, the software is designed for gyms, yoga studios and personal trainers as well. This means that the layout and usability of their software and user apps will have some confusing elements that aren’t tailored to your salon business needs, or miss some features, which can hinder a streamlined experience for you and your customers.

While retail is such an impactful, integral part of a salon’s success; most Personal trainers and yoga studios don’t actually have a substantial product element to their business. MINDBODY features are lacking in this area as a result. MINDBODY don’t offer low stock prompts, itemised order lists or the ability to manage stock transfer between branches.

The lack of features in this area in the MINDBODY software makes business growth and management more difficult to salon owners. Without automated stock prompts and orders, your time is spent doing manual stock checks and orders to the disadvantage of more pressing areas of business (as well as your customer service).

Because MINDBODY have to cater to a variety of diverse and different industries, their employee and facilities management features are quite limited. Particularly when it comes to the ability to integrate with payroll or schedule facilities. This would be an issue if you rent chair space to freelance hairdressers in your salon for example. Without the ability to schedule facilities (like chairs and basins) things could get messy.



Phorest Salon Software vs Vagaro

Like MINDBODY, Vagaro too incorporates gyms, yoga studios and personal trainers into their software offering, and as a result doesn’t keep the needs of the salon business at the front and centre of every feature. Just like MINDBODY, Vagaro is thus lacking in features to help streamline product sales – features that personal trainers and yoga studios have little need for, but that are essential for salon businesses. Vagaro doesn’t support the management of stock transfer between branches, adding more manual admin work to your day. Vagaro doesn’t offer automated stock prompts and automated itemised order lists either. This leads to the same problems that MINDBODY customers encounter.

One of the reasons for these oversights is that gyms rely on memberships to keep customers coming back, while salons do not. This lack of customer loyalty features can have a major impact on your client retention rate — Vagaro doesn’t offer salon-branded loyalty cards for customers, nor do they offer the ability to segment and target customers who are overdue a booking.

Another fundamental difference-maker comes in the form of an app that is branded to your business. You see, Phorest provides you with a fully customised salon-branded app, ensuring that your client experiences the very best customer service, from YOUR business, at the touch of a button, 24/7.

While Vagaro, on the other hand, only offers website integration for client self-service appointment bookings.

However, in the interest of honesty and transparency, Vagaro does offer a feature that Phorest is lacking (at least for the time being!). With Vagaro you can seamlessly integrate your third-party accounting software – such as Xero or Quickbooks – to share accounting, sales and POS data across the platforms. This is something Phorest is currently working on, to be rolled out in mid-2018, but for the time being Vagaro has the upper hand in this area.



Phorest Salon Software vs Salon Iris

Salon Iris offers much of the same day-to-day management features that Phorest does (except the ability to manage the transfer of stock between branches), but where Salon Iris could use some significant improvement is in the more client-facing areas.
Like Vagaro, Salon Iris doesn’t offer a salon-branded booking app for your customers, offering only website integration for client self-service appointment bookings.

The marketing features they supply are also quite limited. You cannot use Salon Iris to segment your customers and find those who are overdue an appointment booking, or even segment customers by demographics of any kind. And it doesn’t seamlessly support customer contact for marketing purposes – no SMS or email campaign templates, no support for social media management and no access to request or respond to online reviews for your salon.

And like Vagaro, Salon Iris does offer a feature that Phorest is lacking (at least for the time being!). And that is the integration with third-party accounting software – such as Xero or Quickbooks – to share accounting, sales and POS data across the platforms. As mentioned in the Vagaro section, Phorest will be releasing an integration solution in mid-2018.



Phorest Salon Software vs Shedul

With Shedul, the term ‘you get what you pay for’ springs to mind. While Shedul is a free software and the rest of the solutions on this list are paid, just a quick glance at the features comparison at the top of the article will show you exactly why – Shedul’s feature offerings are few and far between (But in fairness, their goal isn’t really to provide these services).

As the name suggests, Shedul really is just for scheduling appointments. It allows you to access and manage your salon bookings via the cloud, and store some customer contact details, and that is the extent of the offering. They don’t offer any form of self-service appointment booking for your customers, with no website integration and no booking app for your salon.

Aside from that, no POS, retention, rostering, HR, stock/inventory management, reporting or marketing feature exist. They make it clear that they are providing one thing and one thing only. It has also been noted that their customer support channels have been tricky as well, with no way of contacting support via phone or email.

Again, that is fair, considering the fact that they are free. However, this leads many salon owners to have to source solutions for the rest of their marketing and management needs. And in doing so, they often end up patching together a variety of different softwares and systems that aren’t built to work together.



Phorest Salon Software vs iSalon Software

iSalon Software matches Phorest feature-for-feature when it comes to appointment booking, CRM and POS software functions; with a bespoke booking app for your customers; Facebook booking integration; a detailed client CRM system; and a Point of Sale hardware and software system with credit card processing and roving tablet payments.

However, that’s where iSalon’s offering ends. iSalon doesn’t offer any features to assist with the daily management of your salon business – no stock and inventory management (a huge part of a salon business’ revenue neglected); no facilities and staff rostering functions; and no reporting features.



Phorest Salon Software vs Millennium

At first glance, Millennium looks like it provides a full-service solution for salon management. However, when salon owners dig a little further, the consensus is that each section and element is missing something important to their business’s needs.
In the appointment scheduling function, Millennium offers just about as much as Shedul does – access to manage your salon appointment bookings via the cloud, and automated appointment reminders for customers, but no self-service appointment booking features for clients (no website integration and no appointment booking app for your salon customers).

In the POS function, Millennium lacks the ability to cash up using roving tablet payment.

The customer retention function lacks the ability to segment and target customers who are overdue a booking.

There is no HR and rostering function to speak of, meaning staff rostering and client bookings don’t seamlessly integrate – leaving you open to booking a client in to see a therapist or stylist that isn’t working that day, or double-booking a stylist or therapist. It also lacks the ability to manage facilities – important for you if you rent out chairs to freelance stylist or therapists. This lack of HR function also means there is no commission tracking and reporting, and no employee performance reporting.

Like iSalon Software, Millennium offers many of the important features every salon would require, but if you’re looking for a full-service salon software solution it misses the mark in too many areas to be fully effective at streamlining business processes.



Phorest Salon Software vs STX

The first and most important thing to note about STX is that, without support for multi-location salon businesses, STX is really only useful for small single-location salons. If that’s not you then cross STX off your list immediately.
Similar to Millenium, STX offers just about as much as Shedul does – basic access to manage your salon appointment bookings via the cloud. While they do offer automated appointment reminders for customers, they don’t provide self-service appointment booking features for clients –no website integration and no appointment booking app for your salon customers.

Also, like Millennium, the STX POS function lacks roving tablet payment ability, and their customer retention function lacks the ability to segment and target customers who are overdue a booking, as well as the ability to reward customers for referral business. And as many successful salon owners will tell you: client retention and loyalty are key pillars of a salon’s strategy.

Unfortunately, STX offers no marketing support to speak of – no SMS or email campaign templates, no support for social media management and no access to request or respond to online reviews for your salon. And finally, their reporting function lacks the ability to track staff performance. As more and more of your clients spend time online, it is important to have the tools to meet them there.

In terms of the capabilities of their CRM, HR & Rostering and Stock & Inventory functions, STX has a good coverage of features here – aside from the ability to manage the transfer of stock across locations, as again it does not support multi-locations in any capacity.



What Phorest offers that absolutely none of our competitors do


For most of the technical features of the software, there is at least one competitor who also offers that feature – be it appointment schedulingCRMPOS integration, loyalty cards, inventory management or staff rostering – some or all of these elements are offered by competing providers to varying degrees of effectiveness, although none of the competitors tick as many boxes as Phorest Salon Software does.

However, there are elements of the Phorest package that have yet to be caught up to by any of our competitors:


Dedicated marketing support for your business

Our full marketing suite allows you to communicate with clients across multiple platforms and easily manage your online reputation like no other salon software can.

Phorest lets you manage and respond to reviews on third party websites (like Google, Yelp and Facebook) from within the salon software interface. Phorest also integrates with more social media channels than any other salon software, making social marketing and client communication more streamlined.

You can integrate the Phorest Marketing Suite with the Phorest CRM to segment and target your database based on their age, gender, profession, location and more, for highly relevant marketing messages that will resonate with your customers and bring them back through your doors.

But it is our dedicated marketing support for your business that we really think can have a major impact on getting your clients flooding back through your doors. The Phorest in-house marketing becomes an extension of your marketing team when you’re a Phorest customer. The team is always on hand to help you with bespoke marketing ideas for your business, coaching you in how to use the Phorest Salon Marketing Suite to grow your business every day.


Onsite Training

A salon management system is no good if your team don’t know how to use it. No other salon software provider offers hands-on, in-depth training at your premises, which will guarantee that your team is fully comfortable with the system.


Hardware & IT Support

Phorest is the only salon software provider that offers support for the hardware associated with your salon management software. If your computer system or POS system is acting up, our hardware support team is on hand to take your call and talk you through troubleshooting the issue to make sure your business stays up and running when it matters.


GDPR Compliance

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which will come into effect in Europe in May 2018, are an important consideration for salon owners. Salons and spas collect a lot of sensitive and personal data about their clients on a daily basis through client intake forms, and GDPR regulated how you are permitted to use that data.

At Phorest Salon Software we have been spent months ensuring that we provide a system that is 100% fully GDPR compliant. And we are thrilled to announce that Phorest currently is the first and only FULLY GDPR compliant software in the industry.

If you would like to know more about how you can become GDPR compliant, we have also created simple salon GDPR guides to help our customers understand their rights and responsibilities under GDPR.



Still haven’t made up your mind?

We can tell you that Phorest has everything you need to optimise and grow your business, but why don’t you see for yourself. Want to see what Phorest can do before getting a quote? Request a free demo today!


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