ZippyPaws continues to grow and innovate with an exciting selection of toys and outdoor gear for dogs, says designer and vice president Jen Cao.
Pet Business: What advice would you give to pet specialty retailers who want to sell more plush toys in their stores?
Jen Cao: We suggest coming up with creative display ideas based upon the types of toys to maximize the fun colors and characteristics of various toys. Also, many plush toys have unique features, like our ZippyPaws Burrows. The fact that they are great interactive toys for dogs needs to be demonstrated to customers or somehow shown in signage. In addition, features like the sounds of various squeakers can be a great selling point. Getting the toys in the hands of the customers, and better yet in the mouths of their furry friends, is a big key.
PB: What are the latest and most important trends in the plush toy category?
Cao: Dog owners are taking to social media by storm—everyone wants to share their precious pups with the whole world. We’ve noticed that dog owners are gravitating towards fun, cute toys that are full of character—what better way to show off their cute dog on social media than cuddling up with a cute toy. For this reason, ZippyPaws’ Squeakie Emojiz have really taken off since we launched them summer of 2015. Dog owners are gravitating towards quirky toys that show off their dogs’ personalities and make others laugh.
We’re also seeing a trend towards more durable toys, which is why we developed our Warriorz line of durable plush toys .
PB: What are the newest and most exciting product introductions from ZippyPaws?
Cao: ZippyPaws is launching several exciting new products in the first half of 2016. First, we’re introducing the Monkey RopeTugz, which is a large tug toy designed for interactive play. It features the same strong mountain climbing rope used in our Climbers Leashes. It’s one continuous piece of rope that extends throughout the toy, which means it’s stronger and can withstand some serious tugging.
Second, we’re launching Warriorz, a new line of tough toys that feature ZippyPaws’ exclusively designed Z-Stitch. Z-Stitch is a special stitching technique used for toys’ border webbing that covers more area than regular stitching, making the toys extra strong. Warriorz toys will be available in March.
PB: In addition to plush toys, ZippyPaws also offers the Adventure Gear line for consumers who like to enjoy the outdoors with their pets. What are some of the latest developments in this category?
Cao: For 2016, we have completely overhauled our lifejacket design—we switched to a more attractive red color, added soft-padded handles and redesigned the straps to be more comfortable. We also slightly revised the design of our Cooling Vests for a better fit and also added a cool blue color, perfect for the summer. The orange color is still available for customers who want to use the vest as a safety device as well.
We are also introducing a new line of Backpacks—perfect for day trips and short hikes. Currently, it comes in four sizes in our Forest Green color. We’re big outdoor lovers here at ZippyPaws, and we want to create comfortable, easy-to-use and affordable accessories for adventure-loving dogs and their owners.
PB: Last year, ZippyPaws moved into a new, larger headquarters. What was the reason behind the move? How has the new facility helped the company?Cao: Since our launch in 2011, we’ve come a long way from shipping packages from a small garage. In June 2015, we moved to our second warehouse in three years to better serve our customers. With the larger space, we can keep more inventory in stock and have more opportunities to grow. Over the past six months, we’ve had a record holiday season and the new facility definitely allowed us to receive and ship out tons of toys without delay.
PB: What can retailers expect to see from ZippyPaws in the future? Do you have any new products in the works?
Cao: We definitely have some new items in the works. ZippyPaws constantly innovates new and exciting ways for dogs to play, and squeakers are our specialty. We are developing a toy that squeaks differently when a dog and its owner interacts with it. We’re not sure when we’ll launch this toy, because we’re still doing research—we want to get it right the first time. Also we are continually expanding our Adventure outdoor gear line.