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Product Merchandiser Focus: Pet ID Products

Posted: May 21, 2012, 6:15 p.m. EDT


Promote Multi-Protection Strategies
Urging consumers to combine a pet ID tag with other retrieval systems can result in more sales.
By Cheryl Reeves

It’s the moment every pet owner fears most: a beloved pet goes missing. Retailers can help alleviate this worry—and improve sales—by educating customers on how they can safely and securely tag their pets for identification in case the worst ever happens.

Most rescue/shelter organizations, according to The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy—such as municipal pounds and humane societies—have a policy of euthanizing pets after 72 hours because of overcrowded conditions, reported Peter Norback, executive vice president of Flash Drive Publishers Inc., manufacturer of a tag retrieval system that uses USB flash drive technology.
 
“I see so much opportunity for retailers in the evolving ID sector to dramatically increase sales and help protect pets,” Norback said. “But store owners must get more proactive. Simply having a traditional tag display next to the cash register isn’t enough.”

Store owners should put some energy into merchandising and promotion in this sector if they want to increase sales, Norback advised. One way this can be accomplished, he pointed out, is by informing customers that they can maximize protection of pets by combining an engraved tag with a computerized tracking system.

Merchandising pet ID tags
It’s important to encourage pet owners to take advantage of a complete circle of full protection, from tag to microchip to a computerized retrieval system, emphasized Dave Vigil, president of Snaptracs Inc., San Diego-based manufacturer of a GPS pet retrieval tracking system.

“Why not cover all the bases when it comes to a pet’s security” Vigil said. “Retailers can make a big impact on increasing their customers’ peace of mind when it comes to safeguarding a pet.”

In-store Tech Demos Inspire Confidence
Tried and true merchandising “musts” such as organized displays and good customer service still prevail, but savvy retailers who go the extra mile in showing off advanced pet protection products will raise awareness and achieve more sales, said manufacturers.

At Maxwell Dog, a store in Studio City, Calif., manager Jillian Roller reported that her customers are increasingly seeking as much identification security as possible, especially those who do a lot of traveling and hiking with their pets. While securing pets with a traditional tag as well as a microchip is what’s most popular, she said greater consumer demand for computerized retrieval systems is on the horizon.

Showing off an in-store display featuring a video complete with a laptop and smart phone is the best way to educate the customer about retrieval systems, Vigil noted, adding that this takes the mystery and confusion out of how the product works to generate excitement and the desire to buy.

“Get it out of the box and into a display,” he said.

Retailers should also advertise and promote by calling out all the benefits on store signage near displays, suggested Tom Troiano, director of Little Gifts’ Idtag.com in Secaucus, N.J.

“People are understanding that technology can help greatly with pet identification,” he said. “Show off a full pet profile on a computer so customers can see how comprehensive it is and how easy the information is to update in an instant.”

Indeed, appealing directly to young, tech-savvy customers can boost sales significantly, Norback agreed.

“Promote and display with videos and demos during high traffic weekends,” he said. “Include signage that clearly communicates cost. You could even offer a free engraving on an ID tag along with a special deal on a collar to push as much protection as possible.”

INDUSTRY VOICES
Why Offer In-store Engraving Services?

“I can’t imagine not offering in-store engraving as it generates a lot of other sales when the customer comes in to get a new tag, update an old one or replace a lost one. They shop around and usually pick up a few extra items.”

Gabriel Oberste, sales manager at Bernal Beast Pet Store in San Francisco

“We use the Vital Information Plates (VIP) engraving machine in our store and it’s amazing. The machine is small and fits on a tabletop. Customers can review all their information for accuracy on a computer preview screen before the tag is engraved. All in all, engraving takes about five minutes.”
Karen Bandekow, district manager at Cherrybrook Premium Pet Supplies in Broadway, N.J.

The big point to get across to consumers is that not one of these ID methods alone is failsafe; by using a bundle of protections, a pet has a greater chance to return home safely if lost, Norback added.

Design Promotions for Sales
Periodic promotions that offer a free ID tag and engraving with a leash and collar sale are very successful, said Karen Bandekow, district manager for Cherrybrook Premium Pet Supplies, which has three stores in Northern New Jersey.

“I’m also seeing an increase in new tag purchases to match leashes and collars,” she said. “People are into fashion and want everything to coordinate.”

Another consumer trend is more information engraved on a tag.

“We’re engraving on both sides of the tag to include their veterinarian’s number, cell phone number and a friend or family member’s phone number as back up,” Bandekow added.

At My Pet Boutique in Toronto, customers are flocking in to create their own designs using Dog Tag Art, said owner Judith Pagnier.

“We have a countertop display and a computer set up where people can customize tags and then send their orders directly to Dog Tag Art,” she said. “The tags are delivered quickly to the customer’s door and the quality is great.”

Along with cross-merchandising ID tags with collars, consider also placing displays near safety products and even in the food aisle, said Kim Stout, director of sales and marketing for Coastal Pet Products in Alliance, Ohio.

“It’s important to display ID tags in places that the customer would see them when buying other products because it is an easy add-on,” Stout said. “A benefit for retailers is that merchandising ID products doesn’t take up a lot of space.”

INDUSTRY VOICES
What Are Your Best-selling Tags?

“Rockin’ Doggie and Cleopatra tags; the bestsellers are the plain and simple tags, but a good number of customers are into glitter and more fashionable looking tags. We stock a big variety to appeal to everyone.”
Nilda Ruiz, manager of Canine Styles in New York

“For dogs, the most popular are bone-shaped tags; for cats, heart-shaped tags.”
Karen Bandekow, manager of Cherrybrook Premium Pet Supplies in Broadway, N.J.

“Our customers love colorful Red Dingo enamel tags. Part of the allure is that Red Dingo offers updated engraving for free and a lifetime guarantee.”
Karen Hubbard-Featherer, owner of Featherer Pet in Benicia, Calif.

“Design your own Dog Tag Art is a huge bestseller. The preference for stainless steel and enamel tags are about equal in terms of popularity.”
Judith Pagnier, owner of My Pet Boutique in Toronto

Dogs aren’t the only pets that need identification. Karen Hubbard-Featherer, owner of Featherer Pet in Benicia, Calif., said she’s seeing an increase in demand for cat identification tags–for fashion and function.

“We promote safety and have relationships with local rescues who always advise that cat’s have tags,” she said. “To further protect our canine and feline clients, we are looking into having a vet tech come into the store on certain days of the month to microchip pets. People understand more than ever that there are endless scenarios where an indoor pet can get out and get lost.”

Connect with Customers
Retailers can profit by reaching out to customers through a variety of marketing formats, said Lorien Clemens, customer service and outreach manager for Pet Hub Inc., in Issaquah, Wash.

“Buyers like to feel empowered: Give them the opportunity to easily find the information they need,” she said.
 
Specifically, retailers can offer customers a rich repository of product details and benefits by using a variety of formats: videos, industry reviews, customer comments, demonstrations and community endorsements, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook Fan pages and Foursquare, Clemens said. Most importantly, this will bring the retailer into the 21st century information exchange standard and appeal to the modern consumer, she added.

The bottom line is that physical pet ID tags are now connecting to the virtual/digital realm, offering a myriad of opportunities to provide pets with the same benefits humans have been taking for granted for the past 10 years, Clemens noted.

“By linking a tag to an online profile, pet parents now have the ability to share vital information with trusted people who can serve to help lost pets get safely home faster than ever,” she said.

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