Dream Come True
Retailers can boost sales with a well-merchandised bedding selection.
No longer will just any boring bed do for a dog or cat. These days, many pet owners seek beds that truly support their pet and have a functional and usable shape, are responsibly produced, are environmentally friendly and are aesthetically pleasing.
With an endless array of beds available both online and in stores, it is important that pet specialty retailers stand out from the competition with their bed selection.
“When it comes to buying a bed, whether it’s a snuggle bed for a smaller dog that gets cold easily and likes to burrow or an older arthritic dog that needs a more supportive bed with memory foam, pet parents want to find the perfect bed for their furry members of the family,” said Lisa Hisamune, director of sales at P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You) in San Francisco.
Cat owners are just as apt to want to make sure their animal companions have a comfy place to rest and sleep.
“Even cat parents want innovative beds or perches that can fit into their home décor yet make their cat feel comfortable and safe in their own home,” Hisamune said. “As such, cat beds that can be perched in high places, attached and hung under a chair, or offer cozy and enclosed spaces like teepees are very popular.”
Ed Bobowski, a partner at Carolina Pet Co. in Prosperity, S.C., said his company develops beds for senior dogs and noted that memory foam, orthopedic foam, low-profile silhouettes and moisture barriers are all in demand.
“These have been identified as components that serve the needs of senior pets who are living longer due to the care provided by their ‘pet humanist’ owners,” he said. “Moreover, any dog, irrespective of its age, can also benefit from these components.”
Customers want reasonably priced beds, as long as they are not cheap, said Caitlin Hyma, social media manager for Nooga Paws in Chattanooga, Tenn. For that reason, the store started carrying doggie duvet covers, which allows customers to turn an older bed into something that looks brand new.
Patricia Boden, owner of Animal Connection in Charlottesville, Va., said spring futons for dogs are selling well at the store.
“They have wonderful bright colors, and spring is the perfect time of year for pet parents to replace a bed,” she said. “Cat beds do better for us in the winter months.”
A pile of beds of all kinds can confuse the customer, and they are likely to turn away from perusing through them all to find the best one. A well-organized assortment of beds that displays them to their best advantage, on the other hand, is likely to inspire purchases in the category.
Lisa Senafe, owner of Bentley’s Pet Stuff, a multistate retailer headquartered in Long Grove, Ill., used to keep beds on the top shelves of the food aisle, but she found that wasn’t helping with sales.
“We created three-tiered tables on wheels that we put our beds on now, and display them around the store,” she said. “We rotate them every month so customers can see new ones with each visit and they can touch and feel them, which helps.”
Placing an eye-catching bed near the cash register makes an inviting space for a customer’s dog to test it out right there in the store, or the bed can be a great conversational piece if the store’s resident dog or cat is already enjoying it, said Lisa Hisamune, director of sales at P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You) in San Francisco.
While signage is important in all areas of a store, it can be especially vital for beds, because many retailers don’t have the space needed to display too many of them.
“A sign can briefly explain the top benefits of a particular bed and its features, such as washability, which allows customers to quickly educate themselves at a glance,” Hisamune said.
At Nooga Paws in Chattanooga, Tenn., the bolster beds are up high, and people can see them and ask for help getting them down, which ensures that the beds stay clean, said social media manager Caitlin Hyma.
As a category, pet beds usually have a higher price point and offer a good margin for retailers. However, there are challenges to selling beds—while pet owners will buy food and treats frequently, during most visits to the pet store, a pet bed will not be on their shopping list.
Because bedding is normally a higher-priced item, customers are more likely to research brands and make an educated decision on the bed they will purchase for their pet. Providing any information about the beds a store offers, with signs or marketing collateral, can help the customer to make a better decision and feel satisfied that they got their money’s worth.
Shana Lynn Yao, marketing director for Jax and Bones in Baldwin Park, Calif., said that retailers should merchandise at least a dozen beds or customers won’t remember the store offers them when they are ready to purchase one.
“Make sure you keep up with bringing in colors that are visually pleasing to the eye and fabrics that are desired for the dog owner,” she said.
Lisa Senafe, owner of Bentley’s Pet Stuff, a multistate retailer headquartered in Long Grove, Ill., said the bed category has been a big focus of hers for the past year, as she wanted Bentley’s to become a bigger player in the space.
“We were offering great quality, but our price points were high,” she said. “Once I started bringing in beds that were under $100, we sold way more. Beds in the $30 to $70 range sell much stronger, and you can find beds in this range without compromising too much quality.”
Responding to Trends
Many manufacturers have listened to consumers’ needs and desires and have introduced beds to the market that fit the latest trends.
Launched at Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., in March, Horizon Pet Teepees from P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You) is one of the company’s latest additions to its bed offering. The teepees are available in four nature-inspired color patterns and are suitable for cats and small dogs.
“We’ve combined the soft and durable woven fabric of our Horizon Pillow Beds with our popular Pet Teepee design,” said Lisa Hisamune, director of sales for the San Francisco-based company. “These durable hideouts, constructed with natural pine wood poles, are lightweight, so they’re easy to move around the house and will add a look of natural beauty to any room of the home.”
The company is also debuting a bedding line at SuperZoo in Las Vegas in June to cater to larger dogs.
Purchasing a pet bed is no longer just about providing a safe place to sleep. Bed designs should fit into a customer’s home and mesh with current home design trends, said Shana Lynn Yao, marketing director for Jax and Bones in Baldwin Park, Calif.
“In 2018, we have a lot of new items that we are releasing that are designed for all pet lovers, and that includes cats too, all within our sub-line called SlumberJax,” she said. “We offer handcrafted designs and sustainably sourced materials, and there’s love and care that goes into every product we produce.”