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How to Properly Price Your Reptiles

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Last issue, we took a look at which reptiles are best suited to a beginning reptile retailer.  While including any new department to your store can be daunting, choosing the right reptiles goes a long way towards ensuring that your store is able to sell reptiles efficiently, safely, and profitably.

However, pricing those reptiles can prove to be a challenge in and of itself, requiring a delicate balancing act between ensuring sales through lower prices and maintaining a profitable markup.

In most cases, I recommend a 100 percent markup above the total purchase cost (Keystone or cost x 2), and actively encourage stores to be more aggressive on their pricing.  By lowering prices to sell at a higher volume, stores can see an approximate 70 percent increase in sales over one year.

By being aggressive in pricing, you can avoid a frequent pitfall of many small pet stores, stores that overprice reptiles often have trouble selling reptiles, leading them to become “store mascots” rather than salable pets. With private breeders and reptile shows all over the country, stores simply cannot afford to overprice their reptiles.  Rather, stores with an aggressive, competitive pricing strategy, again, around 100 percent markup or less, experience sales two to three times higher than their higher-priced competitors.

The key thing to remember, though, is that each reptile represents not just a sale of a given animal, but rather sales of the food, accessories, heating, substrate, lighting and housing.  As long as your store is prepared to provide those items at reasonable prices and a quality customer service experience, you can ensure repeat business from those reptile owners.

Further, the purchase of a reptile only rarely proves to be an impulse buy.  Because of those necessary items and the ability for consumers to research prices, overpriced reptiles can leave a bad taste in a customer’s mouth for your store in general.

However, those very specialty items represent a distinct advantage for specialized pet stores over their “big-box” competitors.  Larger stores tend to cater to a more general audience and simply don’t carry many of the items necessary for reptile care.  Items like substrate, heating elements, and lighting options represent avenues for repeat business through which your pet store can easily take advantage.

Even more so, reptiles’ unique feeding requirements ensure not only business from food sales, with significantly lesser competition. Large grocery store chains simply do not carry common reptile foods like mealworms and crickets. Even certain larger pet stores refuse to stock live/frozen feeder mice or ‘pinkies’, which are common food items for many snakes. By taking advantage of this gap in the market, you ensure additional food traffic through your store on a regular basis.  Every time their reptile needs food, money gets spent in your store.

Each time that a customer comes in your store to buy crickets, mice or a new heat lamp represents a two-fold opportunity.  First, by providing specialty items with a quality customer experience, you ensure repeat business through your reptile sale.  Second, that positioning allows you to take advantage of multiple-pet owners.

The American Pet Products Association’s most recent survey claims that households with multiple pets is at “an all-time high with 44 percent of pet owning households in the U.S. owning more than one pet, up from 42 percent of households in 2010.”  With the increased foot traffic brought in through reptile-based necessities, it becomes increasingly likely that a repeat customer will choose your store for their other pets’ needs, resulting in more overall sales for you.

However, the key to ensuring all of these subsidiary sales is to get a reptile into the customer’s home in the first place.  And, naturally, the key to achieving that original sale revolves primarily around the reptile’s original price point.  By pricing your reptiles properly, you ensure a high turnover for your reptiles, providing the building blocks for hundreds of new sales in the future.

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