A Global Appeal
Global Pet Expo offers retailers the opportunity to network with other professionals, discover the latest trends and learn a thing or two about what their business may be missing.
Over the next three days, you’re going to be faced with a variety of exhibitors, new products, educational seminars, award presentations, various industry events and a lot—I mean, a lot—of walking. But I bet you wouldn’t want it any other way.
After all, you’re here at Global Pet Expo (GPE), the pet industry’s largest trade show and unofficial kick-off to the new year. An array of national and international retailers, manufacturers, mass-market distributors and other qualified professionals flock down to Orlando, Fla., to catch up on the industry’s latest and greatest. Between networking opportunities and hunting down new products, there’s something here for everyone—and there’s nothing else like it.
“Global Pet Expo definitely stands out from other trade shows by having companies from across the world showcase their products,” say Ben and Lisa Prakobkit, co-owners and co-founders of The Modern Paws, a natural pet market and spa based in Tampa, Fla. “Most other trade shows here in the U.S. tend to showcase U.S. companies. GPE also seems to have the largest amount of vendors compared to other U.S. shows.”
Under normal circumstances, you’d think that a show of Global’s size and caliber would be somewhat overwhelming and tricky to navigate, but it’s reliable in more ways than one.
“We narrowed in on Global pretty quickly because it is comprehensive, but so organized,” say Clinton and Laura Gangloff, co-owners of Wilmington, Del.-based Riverfront Pets, a pet supply store that also features grooming, training and walking services. “We can find whatever we’re interested in without wasting a lot of time. We always know what format to expect and have a good idea of where things are and how they will run.”
The dependability of a static layout is a huge benefit to retailers, as it allows them to create a game plan in advance so they can maximize their time at the show.
“It’s important to have a focus,” explains Kenna Sloan, director of business services for What a Great Dog! training center, with locations in Richardson and Frisco, Texas. “It would be very easy to either buy too much or just become completely overwhelmed without a plan. Impulse purchases still may happen, but having a mapped out plan for inventory you can add is the way to go!”
Education & Networking
Let’s not forget about the value of attending the educational seminars. With sessions ranging from 15 minutes to an hour and a half, there’s something that fits into everyone’s schedule. With so many options (and the ability to attend them all for free), one of the best things retailers can do is identify the areas that they may be faltering in and choose a seminar that aligns with the direction they want to take their business.
“We always make time for breakout sessions—usually in the areas of marketing and social media,” explains Laura Gangloff. “Clinton and I still feel like beginners, so it’s very helpful to get advice from a variety of sources, then decide which one is right for us. And we are not members of the social media generation! I think we are too old to just get the hang of Google, Facebook, Instagram and the rest—it’s always changing; we need to hear about it.”
The other side of the educational coin is that the show also allows retailers to trade notes with their peers and get some valuable face time with their manufacturer and distributor partners.
“Attending GPE isn’t always just about the products themselves,” the Prakobkits explain. “We find that by attending GPE, we’re able to network with other like-minded store owners and company representatives that we might not speak to on a regular basis. It’s a great way to have some face-to-face interaction to build a personable relationship with.”
Sloan notes that many vendors offer social gatherings, such as happy hours and dinners, to provide an outlet for networking in a more relaxed, casual setting.
“The most appealing part of Global is the relationships we build with others in the industry,” says Nancy Guinn, founder of Dog Krazy, a pet store that specializes in pet nutrition, with four locations throughout Virginia. “I attend the shows to find new products and connect with other store owners. I also love going to the classes and being able to get face time with my vendors and distributors.”
Everything You Need, Under One Roof
Many distributors offer incentives to retailers who attend the show, which allows them to stock up on their store’s staples at lower rates than usual.
“I typically order a lot from our existing vendors who are offering show specials,” says Guinn. “These good deals help build our promotions calendar for the year by bringing in discounted inventory.”
As essential as planning is, impulse shopping is bound to happen—and it should. Global is meant to provide a stage for exploration and discovery.
Retailers can browse the aisles and identify products that will help create, expand or improve certain areas of their store. For example, Guinn is looking to build the doggie daycare and boarding section of Dog Krazy, while the Prakobkits are looking to spruce up their cat toys/treats and dog leashes/collars aisles.
Visiting new product booths also gives retailers the opportunity to see new products firsthand, as “it can be frustrating to make choices about toys and treats from a website icon,” the Gangloffs explain.
The education that’s gleaned from Global often goes beyond what retailers have learned in the seminars—something as simple as observing every element of a booth can be emblematic of the service a pet store owner would receive if they were to partner with a certain manufacturer.
“I look for things that catch my eye,” explains Guinn. “I also look for what I expect from my employees, customer service.”
As Global offers a little something for everyone, there’s no better way to get excited and prepare for the opportunities that lay ahead.
“Global is like spring: a time to shake off winter, get excited, see the possibilities and recharge,” says the Gangloffs. “We really look forward to catching up with the friends we’ve made across the last four years and looking for the next big trend.”