5 Merchandising Methods for Accessories
To truly capitalize on sales of collars, leashes and harnesses, pet specialty retailers
need a strategy to best highlight these accessories, industry insiders said.
For Matt Wish, vice president of Aventura Pups in Miami, strategy is essential
when displaying and selling these accessories from his mall kiosk.
“I’m very visual, so when I design things, I basically scale everything down
1. CREATE A SECTION
because I’m on a cart in the mall so I’m pushed to use my space well,” he said. “I use
Instagram and Facebook, so when my customer base follows me, they see the new
stuff. I also take pictures of the dogs trying on the products.”
For traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, industry participants offered the
following merchandising approaches to support this category:
“This is a category where the adage that ‘stock sells stock’ rings true,” said
Shane Spruce, managing director of PETQuarters, which has stores in New South
Portland Pet Supply in Portland, Ore., has a whole wall for collars and
leashes, and a section that’s all harnesses, said owner Nina Wung.
“[We] group as many sizes and styles as we can in that location,” she added.
Jessica Knight, director and co-founder of DOOG (Dog Owners Outdoor Gear)
and Outback Tails in Australia, recommended thinking outside of the box when
merchandising the category.
“It’s all about creating the theater that tells the story of the brand,” she said.
“You need to create impact so people notice you, and the best way to do that is
to fill a wall with a bit of everything.”
2. USE HANGING RACKS
The pet stores that Carole George, owner of Georgygirl Boutique in Walnut Creek,
Calif., works with have displayed these products on hanging racks by size.
“In boutiques, they can also be displayed in cases since they are a luxury
harness,” she added.
3. MODEL THE ITEMS AND HELP CUSTOMERS TRY THEM ON
“Display them on a dog mannequin or put it on the store dog,” said Chen-Chen
Lee, president of Pooch Outfitters in Santa Monica, Calif.
George added that it’s helpful to have “knowledgeable salespeople to help fit
4. PROVIDE ACCURATE SIZE CHARTS
“Letting a customer try the product on their dog can allow them to see and
feel the difference of a functional product that they will be excited to outfit their
dog with,” said Bryant Baxter, sales and marketing coordinator for EzyDog in
“All harnesses need to be fit to the dog, so having accurate size charts is
important,” George said.
5. DISPLAY BY BRAND OR FUNCTION
“Carving out a space that is dedicated to a brand shows to the customer that the
store believes in the product,” Baxter said. “Creating a ‘house leash’ is a great
way to put a functional leash in a customer’s hands.”
At her store, Wung separates out the functional and no-pull items from other
harnesses, “because when customers come, we ask what they’re looking for,
e.g., to correct pulling behavior, etc., and then we guide them to the no-pull
section and help them with fit,” she said. “Functional is in its own separate
place because it needs more explanation and help with fit.”
With a background in retail, Eran Konorty, founder and CEO of Angel
Pet Supplies in Toronto, knows “just how important it is to make sure your
customers find what they are looking for quickly and in a pleasant setting.
“I propose that displays be set up in terms of size, design and color, if space
allows,” he added. “A customer will look for two things to start: (a) An appealing
design/look, and (b) their dog’s appropriate size. Therefore, if the collars are
arranged in such a way that they can easily find their desired size and their
particular color, they will have a much more pleasant shopping experience.”
Alisha Navarro, president of 2 Hounds Design in Indian Trail, N.C., agreed that
organization is key.
“Keep collars and leashes organized,” she said. “It is easy for them to look
like piles of spaghetti; keep everything straight and it will sell better.”
Mark Watkins, sales manager of ZippyPaws in Chino, Calif., said that displays
that allow shoppers to try items on their dog are optimal.
“The best merchandisers tend to display the leashes and collars in a way
that will both draw attention and categorize them to make it easy for customers
to find what they need,” he added.
What do pet owners want most from collars,
leashes and harnesses?
“Dog owners want quality, durability and
utility. Cat owners want something that looks
cute.”—SHANE SPRUCE, managing director
of PETQuarters, which has stores in New
South Wales, Australia
“Our customers value their
time with their pets and
want to maximize this with
products that can assist.
Owning multiple leashes,
collars and harnesses based
on the activity is common. It
is common to have a different
harness for simple trips out
and about or for car safety,
and then have your set walk-
ing harness. This is also true
with having a leash or collar
specifically for training or
BAXTER, sales and marketing
coordinator for EzyDog in
“Dog owners want their pets to be
comfortable and to have the best products
they can afford. Quality as well as comfort
is very important. Many of the cat owners
are trying to find harnesses for walking their
indoor cats outside, and the hard part is
finding a decent harness they can’t escape
from.”—CAROLE GEORGE, owner of Geor-
gygirl Boutique in Walnut Creek, Calif.
“Besides functionalities like safety and
sturdiness, which should be a given, owners
want quality products that are comfortable
for the dogs and, at the same time, expressive of the personalities of the dogs and/or
the owners.”—CHEN-CHENLEE, presidentof
Pooch Outfitters in Santa Monica, Calif.
“Comfort, quality and reasonable prices.
With the costs of keeping a pet, the last
thing that consumers want is to purchase
products that break, fail or fall apart due to
the cheap workmanship, materials and a lack
of understanding from the manufacturing
plants. It all comes down to looking good,
staying comfortable and being safe.”
—ERAN KONORTY, founder and CEO of
Angel Pet Supplies in Toronto
“Durability, functionality and fash-
ion. I don’t think there’s any point in
investing in a dog collar that looks
great but is not practical for trips to
the dog park and beach.”—JESSICA
KNIGHT, director and co-founder of
DOOG (Dog Owners Outdoor Gear)
and Outback Tails in Australia
“Beyond USA-made products,
customers are looking for
products that are durable, long
lasting and have something
unique compared to the many
me-too products in the market
president of Cycle Dog-Earth
Friendly Pet Co. in Portland, Ore.
“Functionality is paramount
for consumers. They want
to feel confident that these
accessories will work as they
should, be both comfortable and
safe for their pets, and be useful
for their purpose.”—MARK
WATKINS, sales manager of
ZippyPaws in Chino, Calif.