It’s Only Natural

Retailers who leave a store’s natural product section on the back burner may be missing out on revenue.


Natural sales are a great way for a pet retailer to increase profits, which is why some extra time and energy needs to be devoted to displaying and merchandising natural products. First, come up with an in-store merchandising plan that will highlight natural and organic products. This may mean making changes in product selection or moving the entire natural section to the front of the store–or next to another high-traffic area, like the food section. Also consider displaying popular natural products in the store’s front window and putting together attractive endcap and POP displays. Whatever upgrades a retailer is willing to put into merchandising natural products are likely to increase the business’ bottom line.

Once a retailer has completed an in-store display and merchandising program, they will need to get the word out. This can be done through advertising in various forms of media, as well as through store flyers and newsletters.

Keep in mind that carrying natural products can differentiate an independent pet retailer from its mass-market competition. Some big-box stores do offer natural pet items, but the options are generally going to be limited. Therefore, pet retailers who really focus on promoting natural products can really offer their customers items that they can’t get elsewhere.

In The Store
Product choice is important when it comes to the natural category. The key here is to know the store’s customer base. How much more are they willing to spend on a natural product? If the answer is “not much,” then make sure the natural section of the store offers less costly items. Despite popular belief, not all natural products come with a high price tag–natural and healthy doesn’t necessarily mean expensive.

However, if a retailer is aware that the store’s customers are willing to spend a good amount more on an all-natural or organic item, there is an opportunity for the retailer to greatly increase profits. Choose to shelve items that can carry a higher mark-up, being sure to highlight all the advantages these products can offer.

Once a retailer has selected products for the store, it’s time to think about where the natural section should be located. Putting the section in the front of the store will help grab customers’ attention as they walk in. Also consider placing the natural area next to the high-traffic toy or food sections.

The arrangement of products on the shelf is also important. Don’t crowd the shelves. Instead, offer a handful of options in each segment. Displaying 15 different all-natural shampoos, for instance, will only confuse and frustrate the customer. Offering three options will make the decision to switch to a natural grooming regimen a whole lot easier.

Each natural display should also excite and entice customers. Consider different shelving options, like a natural wood or bamboo bookcase; or, if the budget doesn’t allow for major changes, simply paint the area green. Consider creating a natural window display so customers walking by are aware that the store carries these items. Endcaps and POP displays are also an integral part of an in-store merchandising plan. Many manufacturers can provide these displays, so be sure to ask about these options when placing orders.

And don’t forget to cross-merchandise. If a client comes to the register with an organic diet, ask them if they’ve perused the store’s selection of natural toys and grooming products. Chances are if the customer is already buying one item in the category, they will be open to purchasing other items as well.

Getting the Word Out

Once a retailer has completed an in-store merchandising plan, it’s time to get the word out in the community. This can be done with different forms of advertising–on the radio, in local newspapers and magazines, and with newsletters and flyers.

Check local radio stations for pet shows. The pet industry is really popular, and advertising on these shows can boost store traffic. The key to being successful in this area is knowing the demographics of the show’s listeners. Find out when the show will be covering the natural segment and plan the advertisement accordingly. Retailers should be willing to commit to a few months of on-air ads, since one message is not likely to be heard by many listeners.

Be sure that the advertisement mentions the store’s hours and attributes that make the store special. In addition, give the listener an incentive to come to the store and mention the ad, like a free sample of natural treats or a toy. During flea and tick season, promote natural products that deal with this common issue.

When advertising in the local paper or penny saver, find out the demographics and circulation. In the ad, highlight the natural products that will sell well to these demographics. Incentives work well with this type of advertising. Try offering coupons, a percentage off the entire purchase or a frequent buyer program. There are also times when newspapers will run special features on animals, so request placement in these sections.

Flyers are also a valid means of advertising. Place flyers that highlight the store’s natural items in every customer’s shopping bag. In addition, hire someone to place flyers under the windshield wiper of every car in the store’s parking lot, and the parking lots of every shopping center that is home to a natural food store. As with every other form of advertising, this has to be done on a consistent basis. A one-time flyer blitz will not get a great response.

Newsletters are one more way to get the word out about natural items. If the store doesn’t already send out a newsletter, now is a good time to start. Write an article about the benefits of going natural and offer store discounts.

Natural sales can increase store profits and boost the bottom line. And retailers who don’t devote some time and energy to displaying and merchandising these items are not only missing out on making more money, they are ignoring the ever-rising percentage of customers who are going green.

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