In this blog we’ll look at a number of important factors in pet store merchandising along with some examples of RICH LTD.’s work in point-of-purchase displays and store fixtures for the pet industry. According to the American Pet Products Association, the U.S. Pet Store Industry represents an estimated $60 billion market. About 65% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to about 80 million households. The 65% ownership statistic is up significantly from the 56% of households that owned a pet in 1988. The IBIS World Industry Report shows the average growth in the pet industry from 2008-2013 was 3-4%, which is strong relative to other industry sectors that were flat or declined during this weak economic period.The majority of pet stores in the U.S. are independently owned, and despite the impressive growth statistics, harder economic times have put increasing pressure on pet store owners, forcing them to innovate, add products and services and do a better job of merchandising to improve sales performance. Pet stores face a myriad of merchandising challenges since the products and services they offer are so diverse- from food to OTC medicines to apparel and toys, pet supplies, live animal purchases, grooming services, and more.
Some of the most important considerations in incorporating effective POP displays and store fixtures into the pet store environment include the following:
- Flexibility– Creating flexible, configurable, and modular fixtures for a pet shop display is extremely important for a number of reasons. First, this type of design flexibility enables the retailer to merchandise a wide range of products. Second, it gives the retailer the ability to change the product mix frequently so repeat shoppers can always be treated to new products and fresh merchandising arrangements. Third, it enables the retailer to run seasonal or holiday promotions that can drive incremental revenue. Having the ability to change out signs is an example of one key element of an effective promotional program.
RICH LTD. designed a mobile, modular, configurable and highly flexible pet apparel fixture for Petco, which is shown below. The fixture was built using a metal frame on castors. It included interchangeable printed PVC panels, apparel bars, waterfall arms, hooks, top signs, and a number of other accessories which made it ideal for the diverse apparel product mix for which it was intended. It also had sliding panels which gave it the ability to collapse to become a smaller fixture which could be used for smaller format stores.
Another example is the Cesar Millan front entrance rack that we wrote about in last week’s blog. Like the apparel rack, the Cesar Millan fixture was designed to accommodate a wide range of products. It could easily be wheeled to any part of the store, and it offered tremendous flexibility by virtue of its adjustable sheet metal shelves, MDF base shelves, side grid panels, removable single-peg scanner hooks, and interchangeable header signs.
Design for Women– It is important to design POP displays and retail store fixtures for the target demographic. In the pet industry, the overwhelming majority of shoppers are women. Therefore, we try to use colors that appeal to women whenever possible and also incorporate curves into our designs. We redesigned the curved gondola shelves in Petco stores for the explicit purpose of appealing to women. Sometimes the curves are subtle, but even subtle curves can make a fixture more inviting to women. For example, we designed the freestanding vitamin display shown below. We designed curved side panels to make the fixture more appealing to women.
A second example of designing in curves is the rounded dog toy fixture below that we made for Petco. While it would have been easier and cheaper to manufacture a square or rectangular toy fixture, we created a 360 degree toy fixture specifically to appeal to women.
Make it Natural- Pet shoppers want to buy products that are natural. Trends are clearly pointing in this direction not only with respect to pet food (e.g., organic food for your pet) but also with other products. It is important to reinforce shoppers’ appetite for natural products with fixtures that are natural looking and made in an environmentally friendly way. An example of this is the Natural Balance floor display we made, which intentionally has a natural and unfinished look to reinforce the natural features of the product.
Make it Stand Out– Making a product stand out is the ultimate goal of any POP display, and it is no different in a pet store where the consumer can get overwhelmed with the wide array of choices and products. Two examples of how we have tried to do this are shown below. The first is a hugely popular display we designed for The Honest Kitchen. It is simple and affordable, but it does a great job of catching a shopper’s attention with its eye-catching graphics. Not only are the graphics colorful and attractive, but they serve an important role in helping to educate the customer about The Honest Kitchen’s product line.
A second example of how we created a fixture that would make a product line stand out is the Dr. Harvey’s freestanding shelf display shown below. Not only does it stand out by virtue of its furniture-quality glossy white finish, but this display features LED lights under each shelf which illuminate the product. In a pet store landscape mostly populated by unlit fixtures, this display definitely stands out.
Make it Interactive– With respect to POP displays, this is a universal truth that applies to every retail sector, not just the pet industry. Whenever possible, customers want to touch, feel, and engage with products so they can see exactly what they are buying. A couple years ago we had an opportunity to work with PetSafe to redesign an inline fixture for PetSmart stores. Petsafe makes a line of shock collars and dog training products. Since their product was relatively high value, they had been using a locking case to display their products. We designed the space to include a locking case for theft prevention, but we also added an area where tethered products could be displayed outside of the case. This enabled customers to interact with the product and learn about the features and benefits of the product vis-à-vis the display graphics. As we expected, the net result was an increase in sales.
Another example of interactivity is the pet door display we created for Ideal Pet Products to go in Home Depot and Lowes stores. As shown below, the customer can touch and feel the pet doors that are mounted on the outer swing door.