PROMOTION AND DISPLAY
With so many products on the market, setting litter, substrate and bedding products apart to sell is important.
“Standing out in the bedding and litter category is all about putting features
and functionality on display,” said Lucas Stock, communications manager for
Oxbow Animal Health in Murdock, Neb.
“One type of bedding may look very similar to the next, but do they feel the
same and function equally well?” Stock continued. “We encourage retailers to
make bedding samples available for customers to touch and feel. For obvious
reasons, a soft, uniform bedding is a much easier sell than one that is coarse
At Denny’s Pet World in Kirkland, Wash., store manager Kelley Parsons said
that promotions make a big difference in the sale of bedding. She always pays
attention to what promotions manufacturers might be offering.
“The free-treat-when-you-buy-bedding promotions that are often offered are
very helpful,” Parsons said. “A lot of customers do look for a deal or a promotion
“As a store, we buy from Oxbow, a pallet at a time, to keep things really
affordable,” Parsons continued. “We do find that when we’re able to buy a pallet
and keep prices really low, people will come in and stock up.”
Another aspect that ranks high in customer experience is ease of shopping.
“Organizing the beddings in a way that helps customers figure out what
they need can be very effective,” said Ryan McVeigh, brand manager for Walnut
Creek, Calif.-based Central Garden & Pet Co., maker of Zilla brand products.
“Sorting the bedding by desert, arid and tropical [for reptiles] is one way to
organize. Another way is to sort by specific animal such as leopard geckos,
bearded dragons or tree frogs.”
Although it’s important to give shoppers options, McVeigh said that too many
options can be confusing.
“Many times retailers bring in every type of bedding they can, and it over-
whelms the customer,” he said. “Have a few options for each type of setup—but
not so many that the customer feels lost.”
Nicole Hewson, sales and cashier at Cape Maid Farms in Hyannis, Mass.,
“With so many of these types of products on the market, it’s overwhelming,”
Hewson said. “That’s where your knowledge will help make the sale. Customers
want to know what you use. They want to know what works and what doesn’t.
It’s not always cut-and-dried—they want real user experience and knowledge to
answer their questions.”
Because customers want to know what stores use, livestock make for an
“The best way for retailers to display bedding is to use it themselves for the
store livestock,” said Lisa Kniceley, marketing and trade specialist for Vitakraft
Sunseed Inc. in Bowling Green, Ohio.
“Most of the time, our customers do end up buying what they see we’re using
in the store,” said Gary Roberts, owner of Pet World in Lakewood, Colo. “When
people say they want to buy whatever is cheapest, you often just need to discuss
the value in what they get for spending a little bit more.”
Or go a step beyond discussing the value with an actual demonstration,
“Have the employee give customers some water to pour onto the bedding so
they can experience for themselves how absorbent it is,” Kniceley said. “
Sometimes seeing is believing!”
Sometimes just having litter, substrate and bedding options
laid out in front of the pet owner can help them in making
the best decision—particularly if customers are feeling
overwhelmed. However, it pays to check with the manufacturer to determine whether display and educational material
“Guides seem to be the best way to help someone,” said
Ryan McVeigh, brand manager for Walnut Creek, Calif.-based
Central Garden & Pet Co., maker of Zilla brand products. “A
chart showing which bedding works for which animal is the
best way to go. Zilla’s Bedding Guide can help consumers find
the best bedding for their pet. You can find them in our 2016
The Carefresh brand from Healthy Pet in Ferndale, Wash.,
is rebranding with a fresh, modern logo and eye-catching
packaging to help retailers better merchandise the product
line, said Samuel Cohen, vice president of sales and marketing
for Healthy Pet.
“The rebrand also will help pet parents locate and select
the best solution for their small animal’s individual needs,”
But sometimes a simple reminder is all shoppers need to
make a purchase.
“Bedding can sometimes be an afterthought for
customers,” said Lucas Stock, communications manager at
Oxbow Animal Health in Murdock, Neb. “These customers
may be inclined to purchase the first bedding they come
across or purchase bedding based solely on price. One key
education point is a simple reminder of how much time
certain pets spend interacting with their bedding each day.
When you consider that some pets will spend most or all of
their day on their bedding, it becomes easier to make specific
In 2014, surveyed small animal
owners reported purchasing an
average of 6.2 units of nesting, litter
and bedding products in the previous
Source: APPA2015-2016 National
Pet Owners Survey
SHARE YOUR BIGGEST
CHALLENGE IN SELLING
BEDDING, LITTER AND
“With smartphone technology, often
consumers have already made up
their minds about products before
they even come in. But it’s always
important to educate them on
why something might be better.
Sometimes all it takes is hitting them
with a problem they’ve had in the
past—like odor or absorbency—and
they’re willing to try something
new.”—GARYROBERTS, owner of Pet
World in Lakewood, Colo.
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wood and rattle-ball noises, and they are refillable. Sr. measures 13 in. high by 6. 5
in. wide and has large, thick wood coins, Parrot Pudgies, a large plastic ring and a
baseball-size rattle ball. Jr. measures 6 in. high by 3. 75 in. wide and has thin wood
coins, 1 in. Parrot Rings, a plastic ring and a golf-ball-size rattle ball.
PROMOTION, DISPLAY OF HERP
LIGHT AND HEAT PRODUCTS
Industry insiders agree that the best way to sell more products is by using them in
“A beautiful terrarium with brilliant LED lights, live plants and a Repti Rapids Waterfall
may inspire someone who has never considered reptiles to build a terrarium and try keep-
ing their first pet reptile,” said Ashley Rademacher, animal care and education coordinator
for Zoo Med Laboratories Inc. in San Luis Obispo, Calif. “For those customers who already
have pet reptiles, an inspirational habitat in the store may motivate them to enhance their
existing terrariums or even upgrade to a new, larger, stunning exhibit.”
That’s a concept Bob Potts, owner of Herp Hobby Shop Reptile Breeding Center in
Oldsmar, Fla., takes seriously. He displays all of the bulbs the store sells in its tanks.
“People like that when they come to the store, they can see them in action,” he said.
At Reptile Finders in Lomita, Calif., owner Chuck Dundov displays all the lights on a
rack system inside a shelving unit with a sliding glass case.
“All our light bulbs are visible,” he said. “We have a chart talking about the importance
of UVB and what each—such as 10.0 and 5.0—does, and have that as part of our display.”
Ryan McVeigh, brand manager for Zilla in Franklin, Wis., a division of Central Garden
& Pet Co., said at consumer shows, the company has had tremendous success with a
side-by-side comparison of the bulbs and fixtures.
“We use two 10-gallon tanks with one short side removed, so consumers can put
their hands in and feel the difference,” he said. “A 50-watt Zilla Mini Halogen bulb in a
Zilla Mini Dome fixture will put out more heat than a 100-watt incandescent spot bulb in
a standard dome fixture while using half of the energy to produce more heat.”