Dog Leashes & Collars
Merchandising is key when it comes to encouraging repeat sales of leashes, collars and harnesses.
Toys and treats are not the only items pet owners purchase liberally—leashes, collars and harnesses are joining the ranks. While these items used to be considered “welcome home” products, those that pet owners would buy once during the lifetime of their pets, today’s consumers are beginning to purchase these items in greater frequencies.
In order to encourage this repeat purchasing, it’s all about location. Leashes, collars and harnesses should be merchandised in the front of the store and/or on an end cap, says Alice M. Nichols, president of Up Country. She explains that this forces customers to walk past these displays when they’re looking to purchase something more “utilitarian,” such as food.
The amount of space allotted to leashes and collars is usually four to eight linear feet, and most stores sell three to four different brands of collars or leads. To maximize this (often) small space, Bryant Baxter, marketing and sales coordinator for EzyDog, encourages retailers to commit to one brand and offer at least six to eight patterns and colors of a particular line.
The next piece of this puzzle is ensuring that the display, no matter where it may be located, is constantly neat, tidy and organized. Collars, specifically, are items that pet owners will want to try on their dogs, and if they’re not interested, the discarded products are likely to end up on the floor or in the wrong place, explains Nichols.
To avoid stagnation, retailers should refresh the leash and collar section every three months. Seasonal items drive incremental sales all year round, as some pet parents need little reason to buy a fun new accessory for their dogs. Celebrations and even athletics provide enough impetus for purchase.
“Dogs have become a part of the family and are adorned with collars for each holiday, season and sport,” says Sara Schrekenhofer, advertising manager and graphic designer for Leather Brothers, Inc. “Collars and leashes are bought much more frequently than they were in the good ole’ days.”
Retailers should showcase a variety of vivid colors and, when possible, display matching collar, leash and harness sets together. Schrekenhofer recommends retailers utilize signage in the leashes and collars section that calls out certain attributes and buzzwords, such as made in the U.S., sustainably-sourced and eco-friendly.
When these items are manufactured correctly, they’ll likely last through the entire duration of a dog’s life and possibly into the next’s. For customers locked into that nostalgic faithfulness, retailers can gently hint about the importance of frequent replacement. Even though the items might appear fully intact, fraying and worn out ends can be one correction away from snapping altogether or ripping apart.
Often times, the best way to appeal to consumers is to relate it to their personal shopping experiences.
“Customers have different preferences and styles,” says Alisha Navarro, president of 2 Hounds Design. “They want collars that match their lifestyle or speak to them in some way.”
In other words, “everything is fashion,” explains Alberto Trevisio, chief operations officer USA for MyFamily USA, Inc. As pets are continually humanized and treated as children, the hardware a dog wears is emblematic of how the dog’s treated and who the owner is.
As consumers’ budgets often guide purchasing decisions, retailers should carry items that meet everyone’s financial needs. This hearkens back to the importance of displays, as a properly-merchandised collar/leash/harness section will help showcase collars of all price points, explains Navarro.
Retailers have to assure customers that the higher price points of these items aren’t scary and remind them that it’s an investment into their pet’s life, similar to spending $70 on a premium-quality dog food, says Trevisio. Once a customer feels something has value, they’re willing to spend more on it.
The best way to capitalize on this concept is through engagement and communication. Navarro explains that the reason people visit brick-and-mortar stores is because they want social interaction and help with purchasing decisions.
“Conversations with your customers matter more than any display,” she says. “That 10 minute conversation with your customer can very well mean the difference between a $10 sale with a $5 margin or a $40 sale with a $20 margin.” PB