Tag Along

With the right pet identification product selection, retailers can help bring pets back home and customers back to their stores.


The statistics around lost pets should be enough to make any pet parent double-check their dog or cat’s ID tags, or buy a set immediately if they don’t have any. More than 10 million pets are lost each year, and one in three pets will be lost at some point in its lifetime, according to the National Council of Pet Population Study & Policy and the National Humane Society. Only one in 10 of those pets is found.

As retailers, there is ample opportunity and motive to help customers make sure their pets are safe and secure, and if they do get lost, they can make their way back home. With numerous options on the market, any retailer can carry a wide variety of pet identification products and start making sure every customer that comes in has tags for their dog or cat.  

“Visible identification is the best and easiest way for a lost pet to be reunited with their owners,” says Tom Glessner, senior director at Quick-Tag, whose company offers automated, self-service countertop engraving machines and a wide variety of pet ID tags. “At this time, less than 50 percent of all dogs and cats have any visible identification, so there is still a vast potential market for such an essential product. It’s pretty easy, just choose the right engraving programming for their store and educate pet parents on the need to have visible identification on their dog or cat.”

There are several ways that retailers can provide easy and appealing access to tags, starting with in-store engraving services. While this approach involves investing in an engraving machine of some kind, taking the instant ID tag approach is a simple way to provide on-demand satisfaction and ensure your customers’ pets are equipped with identification as quickly as possible. Companies like Numberall Stamp & Tool Co., based in Sangerville, Maine, offer easy-to-operate stamping machines that allow retailers to stamp tags on the premises.

“Sometimes a mail order delivery of the tag stops the sale,” says Rick Pellerin, sales manager at Numberall. “It’s basically a way to keep customers coming into the store. They know that they can get immediate delivery of the tag.”

Additionally, having an engraving machine can allow retailers to provide related services like stamping keys and other kinds of tags, Pellerin says. Glessner also strongly believes that every pet store should have some kind of instant ID-engraving option available, citing the appeal of on-the-spot service.

“It is a category that is bigger than most probably realize, with millions of tags sold each year,” he said “Like with most products, immediate gratification is vital, as most stores sell twice as many tags when they have their own engraver, versus traditional mail-away or ecommerce programs.”

Companies aim to make the in-store engraving process as simple as possible, offering machines that require minimal training to use. Gregg Newman, managing partner at VIP Engravers, explains that with the company’s computerized engraver, the process is about as simple as plugging it in.

“There’s virtually no training needed,” Newman says. “Most tags take less than a minute to engrave, and because of the patented auto-clamp ID table, any part-time employee can engrave a tag, not just a manager or owner.”

For retailers that prefer to outsource the engraving process, several companies offer mail-order programs. Red Dingo, based in Redmond, Wash., provides stores with a tag display board with all the necessary materials, takes care of the engraving and then ships the completed tags directly to the consumers. The company aims to make tags that are not only high-quality and functional, but also fashionable pet accessories.

“Our tags are beautiful and, along with their quality, serve the role of pet jewelry,” says Eric Bremner, CEO of Red Dingo. “Our Red Dingo designs on our enamel tags are mini works of art, and over a million pet owners have adorned their pets with them. They come with a lifetime guarantee, and they look damn good.”     

For pets or pet parents who may find the jingling of metal tags irritating, Janine Berger-Gillet of Twigo Tags invented a solution that is quiet and keeps pets safe. The rubber Twigo Tags are silent and easily personalized—customers simply write the pet’s identifying information on the tag with a ballpoint pen, boil it and attach it to their pet’s collar. Similar to the in-store engraving options, these tags offer an instant sale.

However you choose to offer pet tags to your customers, manufacturers agree the pet identification category is full of opportunity for retailers. Newman pointed out that an ID tag display can be the most profitable per-square-foot section in the store, and consumers have come to expect tags to be available at all pet retailers. Retailers have the chance to ensure that every one of their customers’ pets has an up-to-date ID tag, generating sales and ensuring their customers are safe and secure.

“IDs are an essential item to carry for all pet stores big and small,” says Berger-Gillet. “There is an opportunity to ID nearly 2.7 million adopted shelter animals each year. That’s a lot of pets and a lot of IDs.”

She adds that offering a variety of types of tags and educating customers on the importance of pet identification are two key elements for success in this category.
“Not every ID tag type is right for every customer,” Berger-Gillet says. “Some customers are all about fashion, or want something that is cool and fun or is tech savvy. By providing a variety of options in the category, you will let your customers know that ID tags are important. The more they see, the more they are influenced to buy.”

Tags are ideal for cross promotions with collar purchases, either offering the tag as an add-on to the collar or vice versa. Sales are also not limited to one tag per pet. For example, a retailer could suggest a separate travel tag with the best contact information for when pets and their owners are away from home. If the dog or cat regularly stays with a sitter while the family is traveling, recommend a tag with the sitter’s contact information. Bremner recommends placing a tag display at the cash register, giving retailers a chance to talk with customers about different tag options and the benefits of having multiple tags.

“It is a great moment for the retailer to connect with the customer as they help and advise them with what can be a very personal choice,” he says.

Retailers should seize the opportunity to impress upon their customers that pet identification products are an essential part of responsible pet ownership for dogs and cats. Berger-Gillet points out that pets can easily wander away, and securing accurate identifying information on them is the best way to make sure they are returned.

“Our pets are purely emotional beings, they follow their sense and can get lost in the smells and adventures of new places,” she says. “Identification is important to have on them in these moments of possible separation.”

Finally, Bremner emphasizes that actively promoting pet identification is not only good for pets and their families, it is also good business sense. “Whether you are a store, veterinarian, groomer or shelter, a lost pet is a double tragedy—the owner loses a family member, and you lose a customer.”


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