Retailers find that conversation is key to selling cat beds.
BY SANDY CHEBAT
Cats sleep an average of 12 to 16 hours a day, experts report, leaving some owners eeking a comfortable and attractive place for their cats to snooze. Pet specialty retailers who carry cat beds report that asking the right questions is essential to
helping customers choose the most appropriate bed for their pets.
“A lot of people are getting cat beds so they feel better that their cat has the option
to sleep in a comfy bed instead of on the hard floor,” said Errin West, co-owner of The
Cat Connection in Dallas.
To prevent cat bed returns from nonuse, West said a conversation with the customer is essential.
“There are a few different styles, such as pods or caves and mats, so a conversation
is best,” she said. “What is your cat drawn to—fleecy blanks, faux fur? What surface
is your cat drawn to?”
Amy Bearg, manager of Bow Wow Meow, which has three stores in Northern
California, said that talking to customers and asking about their cats helps her direct
customers to the best options for their pets’ preferences.
“If they want their cat to use a bed, it’s good to know: Does he like to burrow? Does
he have certain places he likes to lay? Is he attracted to certain fabrics or warmth?” she
said. “Talk to them; ask them about their cats. People like talking about their pets.”
To let current and potential customers know about cat bed offerings and to boost
sales, West said the social media platform Instagram has been invaluable.
“Popularity is a big thing, and cute cat pictures on Instagram are a great way to
promote these products,” she said. “People see something cute on our Instagram,
and they come in wanting it.”
Plain product shots won’t cut it, though, West said.
“We find there has to be a cat involved in selling it.”
While Bearg also employs social media to promote products such as cat beds, she’s
uncertain how much it affects sales.
“We absolutely do social media, but I can’t measure the result,” she said.
In her experience, Bearg said word-of-mouth has proven to be the best way to make
people aware of the stores’ cat bed selections.
Having a store cat that uses the beds also helps sell this category, West added.
“We had a store cat that used to sleep in [one of the beds], and those sold like hot-
cakes because people saw her in it,” she said.
Because of the space cat beds can take up in a store, and because many retailers
said they view these items as nonessentials, retailers said they are very discerning in
what they choose to carry and display.
“We have them front and center,” West said, adding that the beds “take up a fairly
large portion of the front of our store, right next to the counter.”
The Cat Connection carries mats, caves and heated options, focusing on selections
store employees have taken home and tried themselves, she said. Favorite products
are quality items that cats like, can be washed and will not fall apart, West added.
At Bow Wow Meow, cat beds are displayed on different structures throughout
“We merchandise all the time,” Bearg said, adding that Bow Wow Meow also has
a store cat. “Burrowing is a big trait of cats, so we sell a lot of cave-type beds to cat
Enclosed beds can
offer extra security.