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11:57 AM   April 28, 2015
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What’s New in Store Fixtures?

More choices abound in functional and durable materials.
By Alison Bour

Courtesy of Companion Habitats Inc.
Nancy Reed, director of marketing for Companion Habitats Inc. in Colorado Springs,  Colo., reports that when it comes to store fixtures some things change while others remain constant.

“The basic features are pretty much always going to be there, but we keep improving on how we make things and the materials we use,” she says.

Plastics, once considered tacky by many, now provide lighter-weight fixtures versus metal and coated woods, and non-porous surfaces for safety. They also offer an easy clean-up and a classy look that’s high-end enough—even for some boutiques.
However, Reed says glass remains the best option for viewing areas.

“You want that clear and crisp,” she says.

Reed, however, says new shapes present one of the biggest current trends in fixtures—for animals and products. Stores want big capacity that utilizes a small footprint.

A Surprising Twist
Some stores now prefer shelves and units typically found in storerooms, says Steven Diorio, marketing manager for Handy Store Fixtures, a manufacturer in Newark, N.J.

Courtesy of Handy Store Fixtures
Diorio says many retailers are looking for a way to present a large volume of product, especially food. Wide-span shelving and pallet-rack units are some options.

Both Reed and Diorio say colors and textures make up a lot of sales at their respective companies. They offer a way for pet stores to brand themselves and clearly differentiate from the big-box stores.

“It’s all over the board,” Reed says.

By that statement she means 250 color choices, natural wood veneers in rich cherry, aluminum edging for a retro appearance, primary hues designed to appeal to kids and moms, and black, which she says works well for colorful birds and some reptiles.

“It’s something we highly recommend,” Diorio adds.

Several Trends

7 Fixture and Display Tips

  1. If you put reptiles in the store window, ensure they have proper heat without drafts.

  2. Try using endcaps for high-margin product rather than everyday bread-and-butter items.

  3. Watch signage that’s too busy. Consider using an animal figure to guide customers to the right aisle for their pet’s products.

  4. Consider buying units on wheels so you can test traffic patterns and change fixtures and shelving if needed.

  5. Utilize the back of the store for animal fixtures but always keep some up front.

  6. Protect signage and shelf-talkers with plastic sleeves for durability.

  7. Change endcaps regularly.
Currently green powder-coating fixtures are hits with many of Handy’s customers, as are textured surfaces. 

If today’s pet retailers desire trendy looks, they also ask for flexibility. Diorio says this can be achieved through barely visible dolly systems attached to frames of gondolas and other units.

“People sometimes do their whole store [with them],” Diorio says.

He says boutiques tend to go for black versus textures as well as grid shelving for leashes and other add-on products.
Reed says aesthetics of a store are more important to a pet retailer’s target audience of women and kids.

“It’s not about the unit; it’s about the animals,” Reed says, warning stores to ensure they design a look to show off products without overwhelming the eye. “You have one chance to catch their attention.”

If stores sell animals, she recommends surrounding the animals with related products, especially high-margin items.

“Then people think, ‘I need that,’” she says.

Additional Store Accessories
Steve Lane, owner of Steve’s Wonderful World of Pets in Williamsville, N.Y., talks up the aids that manufacturers often offer. Examples include endcap deals, signage and shelf-talkers, although he remarks that sometimes manufacturers try to sneak in slow-moving products as part of the deal.

Customers buy based on perceived value, not just price, he says, and endcaps—if well rotated —increase perceived value. 
“Shelf-talkers can be very helpful if there’s a deal discount on the product, especially dog food,” Lane says.

But he also warns against presenting too much signage, which  gives off a cluttered feeling.

Furthermore, Lane does not believe that endcaps and shelf-talkers work to educate.

“That’s what you have employees for,” he says.

But some stores don’t buy into any of it. Liz Sand, co-owner of LuLu & Luigi in Minnesota, uses non-traditional fixtures and display techniques: antique furniture, distressed armoires, baker’s racks, even chandeliers.

“We want it to look more like a Parisian marketplace,” she says.

Other store fixtures were already in place when she moved in, and the store uses no slat wall or shelving at all. Sand says using real furniture also allows her to dress up the store in “layers,” gaining more bang for her floor bucks.

“Fixtures work well for bigger stores who have the space,” she says. <HOME>

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