PET FOOD DISPLAY
Retailers can get as creative as they’d like when it comes to
displaying pet food; the challenge is the overwhelming variety
of this product category.
“We counsel our retail partners to display all natural options
together, as this is a very distinct pet parent profile,” said
Chanda Leary-Coutu, senior marketing manager, marketing
communications, for WellPet in Tewksbury, Mass. “Within the
natural pet food and treats display section, we typically see our
brand broken out by dog versus cat, pet size (large versus small
or toy breed) and wet versus dry food.”
Retailers should pay special attention to meal toppers,
said Lucy Postins, founder and CEO of The Honest Kitchen in
“A prominent tabletop or endcap display of [our] Proper Toppers and other similar products can help to increase awareness
of the ‘toppers and mixers’ category, and lead to incremental
add-on sales for the retailer,” Postins said.
West Lebanon Feed & Supply in West Lebanon, N.H., places
all of its bagged and dry pet food on black 32-inch-wide pallet
shelving that is 7 feet tall, with full cases of canned food on the
bottom and loose cans on the shelves above for easy access,
“Raw food begins the pet food section and two two-door
freezers announce the beginning of our pet food traffic pattern,”
Jacques said. “Our canned dog and canned cat food is separated
by cat pans, liners, scoops, etc., to break the two sections.”
Jacques recommends daily housekeeping, aligning the
products so that the bags are all uniform, and keeping larger
bags on the bottom shelf.
“The best selling space is from the waist to the eye,” he
said. “[Having] smaller bags at eye level tends to make [cus-
tomers] come back more often, so your impulse sales and other
featured products will help with added sales.”
Showing pricing on magnetic strips or shelf talkers is
important for comparing prices with other brands, he added.
So where in the store should pet food be kept?
“Because pet food is a planned purchase, make sure that
you display it toward the back of the store so they have to walk
past the dog beds, crates, toys, treats, etc.,” Jacques said. “This
leads to added sales.”
As pet owners rely on retailers for information, it is important that retailers be well
versed in everything they sell. Sometimes that information comes from the manufacturers; at other times, the retailer does the legwork on their own.
Regardless of what materials the manufacturer provides, ultimately, it’s the
retailer’s responsibility to curate the best food selections.
“We find that if every company was allowed to display their message in our
store, we would not have room to put their food,” said Curt Jacques, president of
West Lebanon Feed & Supply in West Lebanon, N.H. “We are huge on product train-
ing, and we want to have the customer rely on us to help them navigate the right
choice for their animal.”
Especially for Pets, which has several locations in the Greater Boston area, welcomes
training from vendors to educate its staff, said Amy Kinne, director of business development.
“We have always taken advantage of demo days offered by some vendors, and it
truly pays off,” Kinne said. “There is a direct correlation to the brands that offer demo
support and our top-selling foods.”
The Honest Kitchen in San Diego offers clip strips, channel strips, danglers and a
limited number of countertop sample displays to help its products stand out, said Lucy
Postins, founder and CEO.
A responsible way to relay information is through product labels, said Chanda
Leary-Coutu, senior manager, marketing communications, for WellPet in Tewksbury, Mass.
“[Labels are] one of the best sources of education for retailers and pet parents
looking to better understand what they’re feeding their pets,” Leary-Coutu said. “It is
vital for employees to understand and articulate to consumers what exactly they are
buying when it comes to their pet food so pet parents can feel good about what they’re
giving their dog or cat at mealtime.”
The company works with retailers to communicate important information about its
ingredients, she said.
BY BARRY BERMAN
If you own or manage a retail store, try unconventional tac- tics that will surprise your customers in order to make them
think of your business as cool
and innovative. Your goal is to
create an image for your business that stays in people’s minds
in a much more effective way
than would a boatload of ads
about price and merchandise.
Start with an idea for a return
policy that sounds unusual and
will increase business. The idea is
to offer a really long time for cus-
tomers to return items. The con-
cept comes from a recent study
by researchers at The University
of Texas at Dallas, which showed
that the longer the amount of
time customers have to return a
purchase, the less likely they are
to return it. The extended time
period seems to remove the ur-
gency from making the return
and gives the customer time to
get used to owning the item. The
study looked at several different
approaches to returns and found
that the opportunity to receive a
full, instead of a partial, refund
coupled with a long return win-
dow is the only set of policies
that increases sales while reduc-
START WITH SUMMER
Customers remain motivated to
buy if they think they are getting
a good deal that they might miss
out on. They are bombarded by
“sale” messages, so you must
come up with new ones that
cause them to take notice.
One store holds a Summer
Solstice Sale in June. This one-day sale offers 50 percent off
between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., 40
percent off between 7 a.m. and
8 a.m., 30 percent off between
9 a.m. and 10 a.m., and 20 percent off for the rest of the day. If
you carry dog and cat food, you
could set different discounts for
those categories, such as 20 percent off for the entire day or cut
the above discount levels in half.
Put everything on sale, but feature summer merchandise, such
as pool toys and travel items.
Prepare for lines at your door
before opening by having coffee
A Holiday Preview Sale starts
three weeks before Thanksgiv-
ing, landing you a share of cus-
tomers’ holiday spending before
Black Friday. Offer 20 percent
off the first week and 15 percent
off the second week. If you carry
holiday items, this sale will give
you an idea of what sells and
what doesn’t, what you can re-
order and what you should mark
down. You can use the discount
structure of the Summer Solstice
Sale and the Holiday Preview
Sale for other events.
The 12 Days of Christmas Sale
at B&B Pet Stop in Mobile, Ala.,
offers one item at a very deep discount on each of the 12 days. The
objective is to get as many people to come in as close to 12 times
as possible. It is essential to not
reveal the sale item in advance;
instead, send emails out that day,
or the day before, so people keep
checking. Include a photo of the
product in each email.
An effective ongoing program is to offer a free gift with
purchase. Examples are a store
shirt with every $100 purchased,
or a smaller pet gift with every
$25 or $50. For a gift with some
value, choose certain days pe-
riodically to give them away
totally free—with no purchase
requirement—to the first five
customers who come in.
WEIRD CAN BE WONDERFUL
If these aren’t unusual enough,
the Two Bostons chain in Naper-ville, Ill., holds an April Stool’s
Day event on a weekend day
before that fun date. The centerpiece is contests divided into
two age groups. Participants try
to see how much poop they can
pick up with shovels and buckets
in 45 seconds, with the top three
finishers winning gift certificates.
The store uses rubbery replicas—
not real poop.
Co-sponsors for Two Bostons’
events are a local pet waste collection service and a local bakery that
provided pastries in the shape of,
well, you know. Include an incentive to buy, like a discount or a percent of each sale given to a charity
of each customer’s choice.
KEEP IT FRESH
If you hold many sales and events,
avoid being too predictable, otherwise customers will hold off
purchasing until you hold a sale.
A great resource for interesting
sale themes is holidayinsights
.com, which contains a long list
of unique and bizarre “holidays.”
Using these allows you to move
your events around the calendar.
Some directly relate to pet supplies, such as National Adopt-a-Cat month (June). During National
Hamburger Month (May), either
for the whole month or only on
the slowest day of the week, offer a
discount to anyone who brings in
a receipt from a hamburger joint.
On National Chocolate Ice Cream
Day (June 7), bring in a freezer,
and offer free ice cream to anyone
who spends $5 or more. There are
hundreds of crazy-themed days
and months listed on the site, not
all of them relating to food.
Step Outside the Same Old Sales Box
Spark your “cool” cred with customers by applying
unusual and innovative sales techniques.
BARRY BERMAN is president and co-founder of
NEXPET co-op for independent retailers and
GRANDMA MAE’S COUNTRY NATURALS pet food
company. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.