Sniffing Out New Products
To keep the small animal section of the store fresh and exciting, retailers should seek out new, innovative products and highlight them on the shelf and in-store advertising.
Because the small animal market is still relatively lean, with a limited selection of items, small pet owners are always eager for new products. Any retailer that can offer new products for small pets is sure to stimulate sales in the department. New products can even encourage customers to purchase a small pet.
First, check with existing contacts. Ask manufacturers’ reps and local distributors what’s new. Let them know that the store is interested in hearing about new small animal products. When calling a supplier to place an order, ask about new products. Also, talk to customers and listen to their wants and needs, and pass these ideas on to reps, distributors and suppliers.
Since you’re reading this article, you probably know that one of the best places to find new products is in the pages of a trade magazine. While the articles are beneficial for business, don’t forget to look at the advertisements. Mark pages of ads or new products that may generate interest. Follow up on new products right away, before they’re no longer new.
Pet industry trade shows usually have a special area to showcase new products. Trade shows are also a good place to begin a relationship with manufacturers and other industry contacts. During the event, there is the opportunity to meet the people at different booths and get to know them. That way, it will be easier to pass ideas on to them, and they will be more willing to let you know when new products are coming out.
One of the newest tools for finding new products is the Internet. This is a good way to find small companies making homemade products for small pets. Because of the limited selection of small pet products available at most pet shops, many entrepreneurs are filling the gap by offering handmade products by mail order. A retailer who adds these unique products to their line will stand out from the large chain pet shops.
For instance, a search for “rat toys,” “rat hammocks” or “rat merchandise” turned up several small companies that make handmade products. I even found a site that sells rat costumes. Another way to find these companies is to visit small animal clubs’ websites and check out their links or merchandise pages.
Marketing New Products
Once a retailer has found new products, make sure to call attention to them in the store. Consider creating one endcap or a new product section within the small animal department. At the very least, if placing a new product on the shelf among other products, use an attention-grabbing sign, perhaps even a giant hand, to point it out.
Consider featuring new products in store advertising. By announcing new products on a regular basis, a retailer can establish a reputation as an exciting and innovative store.
Debbie Ducommun has a B.A. in animal behavior and has worked in the field since 1982. She’s the author of the book Rats!, the booklet Rat Health Care and The Complete Guide to Rat Training: Tricks and Games for Rat Fun and Fitness.