Boosting Bird Products

Elevating merchandising and marketing strategies can have a direct impact on a retailer’s bottom line.


Any pet specialty store that wants to boost its product and livestock sales has to set itself apart from its competitors. Of course, one of the best ways to do so is by creating a unique shopping experience through marketing, and that experience begins the moment a customer steps foot in the door.

Retail experts agree that it is critical for retailers to make a good impression with customers every time they come into the store. The store should be clean and welcoming. Knowledgeable and helpful service is particularly important in pet retail, as is offering added value to consumers’ shopping experience—for example, by offering a frequent-buyer program for pet food or additional services such as grooming. But it is also important to be sure the store is well merchandised and fully equipped with new products, great promotions and signage that can help customers find what they need.

It is difficult for anyone to look at their own store and see it with an unbiased eye, so it is helpful to ask other people, from staff to customers to friends and family, what they like about the store and what they think could be improved. Sometimes, just moving departments around—which should be done annually, with endcaps being rearranged more often—will help increase sales. Creating displays, bringing in new products and regularly changing the store around will help keep customers interested. Once in a while, the store will also need an overhaul—new fixtures, paint and lighting can refresh the look of the store.

Retailers should strive to offer sales and promotions on a regular basis, aligning them into seasons, holidays or events such as anniversaries. For instance, as the weather warms up, stores can emphasize cleaning and pest-control products, which are perfect for spring cleaning. Holidays are also prime time for promotions, as decorations and signage can help sell more products. One idea is to offer a discount on all green-colored products for St. Patrick’s Day or offer a discount or a free product sample to all customers wearing green that week.

Retailers can also run a regular sale once a month or even every week on products or livestock in the store. A sale on freshwater fish, for instance, on the slowest day or night of the week or a vaccine clinic offered the last Sunday of every month can give the store a boost.
Any time a store can tie into another pet-related business or organization such as a shelter, veterinarian, trainer or so on is a win-win for all involved. Having an event during which pet owners can come in and get a service at a discount, see and possibly adopt a new animal or get assistance with their pet in any way can help the pet store’s bottom line. Many manufacturers are glad to help out with free samples and even big prizes for special events, and some can have reps come in for extra important times like anniversaries.

Besides providing product, samples and possibly help for events, a number of manufacturers offer point-of-purchase marketing materials such as shelf talkers, posters and pamphlets that can help sell more product. It is often not possible for staff to give individual attention to every customer on busy days, so the more the products can sell themselves, the better. Signage can also be incredibly helpful for this purpose. Signs should be clear and highlight product benefits and features.

Stores should also take advantage of items on sale from manufacturers and through distributors, and forward those savings to their customers. Some manufacturers produce signs for specials, but a large, fluorescent pre-made sign that says “25 percent OFF!” or “Buy Two – Get One Free!” will grab a customer’s attention just as well.

Stores should always have some sort of frequent buyer program for food that inspires customer loyalty. A frequent-buyer program for pet food—for example, buy 10 bags of the same food, get one free—is one of the most common and best ways to bring customers back to the store. Although these programs are usually built around dog and cat food, this program can apply to bird food too. Stores can also design a program around services such as toenail or wing clipping, or they can even offer free services to customers who buy their bird from the store. The more a person comes into a place, the more they will buy.

Robyn Bright has a master’s degree in parrot biology and more than 35 years of pet retailing experience.


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