What are some of the best ways to
increase travel product sales?
“Choosing products that are unique and trendy
is important. Take, for instance, eco-friendly items.
More than ever before, pet consumers are choosing
higher-quality products that not only benefit their
pet’s health but are safe and sustainable for the planet too. Promoting eco-friendly travel items for pets
could be a big selling point.”—ANNGREENBERG,
founder of A Pet with Paws in New York
FIND A BALANCE
Optimizing a product assortment for the travel category isn’t exactly easy
for pet specialty retailers. It’s a vast category that encompasses a lot
of potential product, and it can be challenging to know what to keep in
“Having assortments made up of products people love helps to create
meaningful store experiences with high customer satisfaction,” said
Michael Parness, chief marketing officer for Outward Hound in Centennial,
Colo. “This is what retailers should strive for.”
Parness said that retailers should rely on their advantage of having
“touch points” with customers—and even their dogs—which online
retailers do not have. Paying attention to what shoppers gravitate toward
and understanding what the store’s best-sellers are, including even
small details such as size and color, will help retailers plan their product
assortment, Parness said.
Of course, retailers must recognize that they can’t please everyone,
but they can aim to do their best to have a good variety so that people
know their options, even if the exact product for their need isn’t in stock
at the time they come in, said Pattie Boden, owner of Animal Connection
in Charlottesville, Va.
“When it comes to something like a life vest or a travel backpack,
it’s simply not possible to have every size and color a dog parent might
want,” Boden said. “But we try to keep a good representation of what’s
available, focusing on the sizes and the colors that would likely reach the
most customers, and then we can always special order a different size or
color and have it in-store in two to three days. Most dog parents do plan
ahead for travel, and this isn’t a problem.”
At the very least, retailers should make sure that they are covering the
basics, said Mandie Sweetnam, travel and access category manager for
PetSafe, a brand of Knoxville, Tenn.-based Radio Systems Corp.
“An ideal assortment for a travel set should cover the necessities—
safety, clean-up, access and containment,” she added. “Accessories are a
bonus, but if you have limited space or just want to test the set out, these
basic categories will meet customer needs.”
PRODUCTS TO GET UP AND GO
Manufacturers have recently introduced a variety of travel products for pets. Michael Parness, chief marketing
officer for Outward Hound in Centennial, Colo., said the company has added products in the lifejacket, backpack
and accessory categories. These include the Standley Sport Lifejacket, the Dawson Lifejacket, several new coats,
five new Dublin Dog collars, a Hipster Waist Pack and a 2-in-1 Bottle and Bowl.
Gordie Spater, co-founder and chief business officer for Kurgo in Salisbury, Mass., said Kurgo has also
debuted new products. The company redesigned its K9 Courier Pet Carrier, and it is now available in red. Pet
owners can wear Kurgo’s G-Train Backpack to carry a dog. For the car, the company introduced the Tailgate
Dumpster, which eliminates the need to have used poop bags in a car by attaching to the outside of the car,
storing poop bags until you can dispose of them, and the Shed Sweeper, a hand-held gadget that will quickly
remove pet hair from car seats, hotel furniture and clothing.
“Social media can build awareness of travel products along
with community involvement and in-store events. Partnering
with product vendors on campaigns via direct mail and/or email
are also great touch points so consumers can get the same
message from you and from the brand.”—MICHAEL PARNESS,
chief marketing officer for Outward Hound in Centennial, Colo.
“Educating people about places they can stay with
their pet in the area often helps us sell more travel
gear. We live in a tourist destination where people
come to visit us anyways—but they don’t always
bring their dogs. Once they realize it’s a possibility
and that we have a great pet-friendly place to stay
nearby, they often want to come back.”—CAROLINE
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