4 Ways to Rev Up Sales This Year
As a retailer in today’s competitive economy, you face your fair share of challenges—from the pressures of competing with online providers to selecting a product mix that makes you stand out from your competition and meets the needs of your clients. However, the World Pet Association (WPA) can assure you there is good news: The pet product industry continues to grow, and the demand for pet-pampering products and safe and tasty food and treat options is on the raise. In fact, data from Statista projects that U.S. pet store sales will grow to approximately $21.6 billion dollars by 2021, and the WPA Retail 2018 Operating Performance Report projects a growth of 6.5 percent in the coming year. This is the time to capitalize on this incredible growth.
To make the most of the industry’s upward trajectory, it is imperative that pet retailers be strategic, think creatively, and differentiate and diversify their product mix. Now is a great time to evaluate your retail product mix and marketing efforts.
As you evaluate your business and plan for 2019, we suggest you think about this question: As a retailer, how will I do a better job of being strategic, creative and different than anyone else? Dig deep to find the answer—retailers that do will be just fine. How? It’s as simple as 1-2-3-4. Follow these four tips from WPA as you embark on your journey to success in the new year:
Tip #1: Do your customer homework
In this era of information technology, keeping track of your shoppers—loyal, occasional and prospective—in an up-to-date database is key to maintaining an active customer base and boosting profits. But simply gathering information is not enough; it’s what you do with that information that differentiates you from your competitors and drives current and future traffic to your business. An email list can easily transform into a vehicle through which you can glean valuable insight on what products are performing best, analyze buying patterns of your customers, and shape the content and messaging you share with your audience—appealing to individual interests in product needs.
There are four types of data you should consider gathering:
- Identity Data: Basic information, such as name, email, phone number, social media channels, pet name(s), etc., that allows you to reach your target audience.
- Descriptive Data: Family, lifestyle and career details that help you get a big picture of the types of people that compose your database. This information can help you create messages and products that resonate with your audience.
- Quantitative Data: Count of products purchased, website views, email opens/click-throughs, social sharing, etc., that qualify active online individuals and allow you to identify engaged audiences.
- Qualitative Data: Information on individuals’ attitudes, motivations and opinions that you collect through open-ended questionnaires or online surveys. This information can further influence your messaging and store positioning by highlighting the pain points, triggers and motivating factors of your customers.
Your database can and should collect much more than customer contact information. When you add in behavioral data, like purchase history or coupon use, you build a customer profile that allows you to establish trends about what types of products are most popular and the frequency of these purchases. It can also allow you to deduce what other products the customer might be interested in based on their shopping history.
Store loyalty programs are so much more beneficial to the store than to the customer thanks to all the data you can collect about that customer’s buying patterns. Every time that a customer shops, your database gains valuable information about their purchase preferences—brand, quantity, frequency, etc.—and allows you to tailor promotions and messaging to these preferences.
Tip #2: Prepare your team for savvy shoppers
The industry is changing. Consumers are increasingly educated; exclusive brands are looking at nontraditional distribution channels including food, drug and mass (FDM); online-only shopping is gaining even greater momentum; and a multitude of other obstacles is putting pressure on retailers. By truly knowing what your customers want and how to take care of their needs, you and your team will be one step ahead.
In 2019, consumers have perfected the art of price comparison and bargain hunting. This savvy shopping means that retailers have to do more to engage shoppers and build loyalty. Price and convenience are offered by every good retailer and your online competition, so what makes you stand out is a solid product differentiation strategy. Defined by Investopedia as the worth or merits a customer ascribes to a product or service, this strategy is key to success in a competitive marketplace. Retailers that provide high-quality products that cater to their customers’ needs will remain strong in 2019.
Tip #3: Optimize the customer experience
You know what they say: Experience is everything. That saying holds true in today’s pet retail market. Value goes beyond just price—it’s about the customer’s experience and the expertise your staff is able to provide. Consumers are looking for information and ideas, and they want to be engaged in a way that they can’t with the internet.
Take, for example, the millennial generation: savvy internet shoppers with the highest likelihood of owning a pet. According to a recent Forbes article, millennials are looking for personalized experiences. To achieve this, they seek out professionals who understand their preferences and make recommendations tailored to their specific needs. Social interaction with brands is also important to this target audience. They use social media in real time, posting photos of their whereabouts and purchases, which presents an invaluable opportunity for creative retailers who take advantage of this trend and provide photo-worthy in-store experiences.
More than 50 percent of Instagram’s 400 million daily users follow businesses, making Instagram a must-have social media platform for your store. Filling loyal and potential customers’ feeds with engaging content can convert online views into in-store purchases. What’s more, the majority of Instagram’s user base is between ages 18 and 29, which means that reaching the next generation of pet owners—an audience that has been shown to spend money on their pets—can be as simple as following these steps to kick-start your Instagram presence. Studies have shown that businesses that invest in video marketing receive 66 percent more qualified leads annually and achieve a 54 percent increase in brand awareness.
So what does your store give them that they can’t get online? In today’s market, it’s about the experience—what makes their trip to the store memorable. Service, knowledge, excitement, engagement, theater, personalization, simplicity, value—all of these things and more go into that equation and bring otherwise strictly online shoppers into your store for the experience they can’t get elsewhere. Be sure to be Instagram-worthy!
Tip #4: Source new products
Product mix is the key to making your store interesting and engaging. Be sure to select a mix that serves your customers’ unique needs. Are they seeking American-made products? How about tech products? Are they looking for natural and organic ingredients? Do they need diet food and snack options? Imagine solutions to your customers’ shopping dilemmas, and build a product mix that solves them, or fill a potential market void by anticipating and serving your customers’ needs.
All shoppers are different. The best way to know what products will resonate is to listen to your customers, make note of their questions or ask them to take a survey that will help you identify what is truly important to them. This is an area where WPA shines. Armed with this valuable customer information, SuperZoo is well-known for offering the most comprehensive array of market-ready products, emerging lines, innovative technology, new segments, proven best-sellers and unexpected finds that will help you stand out from the competition and delight your clients.
It’s an exciting time to be in the pet products and services business. Follow these retail tips and get on the road to a profitable year ahead. And don’t forget to mark your calendar for SuperZoo 2019, Aug. 20-22, with education sessions Aug. 19-21, where you’ll acquire the essential tools and the business-boosting insight you need to succeed in the ever-changing world of pet retail.
Jacinthe Moreau is the president of World Pet Association (WPA). Moreau has broad international experience in the animal health industry. Her career trajectory, which includes a variety of roles at companies such as Vetoquinol, Merial, Merck, VetSource and VCA Animal Hospitals, prepared her to lead WPA