I just put the finishing touches on Pet Business’ May cover story, which is about the major challenges and opportunities facing single-store pet retailers. In the course of researching the article, I had the pleasure of speaking with several such storeowners, and I discovered that one of the biggest difficulties facing single-store retailers—and pet retailers of every size, for that matter—is the fact that while shoppers continue to be willing to pay a premium for high-end pet diets, many are holding off on some of the more discretionary purchases. This is particularly bad news for retailers when you consider that they depend on the typically higher margins that come from items such as toys, high-end collars and leashes, and apparel to offset the relatively low margins associated with pet food.
To overcome this challenge, retailers must make every effort to drive impulse purchases of discretionary items. As I read in an article on LifeHacker.com recently, inspiring these types of sales can be accomplished by appealing to shoppers’ senses. Using visual, auditory, tactile and even olfactory stimuli, retailers can not only highlight certain products in the pet store, but also put customers in the mood to make a purchase. The article, which is really directed at consumers, includes a number of examples of how big retailers are currently using the science behind connecting shoppers’ senses and their shopping patterns to lucrative use in their stores. However, these are relatively simple practices that can be utilized in even the smallest pet stores.
Any retailer that is struggling because of margin erosion would do well to consider these sense-oriented sales techniques in their aisle. Doing so can eventually give you a taste of success.