Over our past two articles, we’ve taken a look at the first half of the four basic concepts that drive a successful reptile retailer. With this article, we move from selection and inventory to our third concept: presentation.
In our observation of pet stores throughout the nation, we’ve seen some phenomenal reptile displays and some displays that simply defy all sense of professionalism. Your ability to create, maintain and present attractive reptile displays has a direct effect on your ability to sell those reptiles.
A well-presented reptile section can easily draw would-be customers into your store. Even those that aren’t necessarily interested in reptiles can find themselves making their way through previously-unexplored aisles of your store if they see a display that’s pleasing to the eye. By putting in some extra time and effort on preparing your reptile displays, you ensure that your store has its best face forward.
Form and Function
Your displays need to provide three primary functions. First, reptile displays must be attractive. Basic glass cages with little decoration will not capture the eye of potential customers. Fill your cages with light, attractive substrate, hiding places and decorations that not only provide your animals a quality home, but also look great to your customers.
Based on your reptiles’ individual needs, you may be able to create themed enclosures. One such cage might be based on the American Southwest, while another might resemble a tropical rainforest. These varied, colorful displays catch the eyes of customers and immediately start them thinking about potential displays of their own.
Second, the location of these cages should factor greatly into your decision-making. Consider placing these displays to the center or even the front of your store. If you’re going to invest the time and effort to make your displays impressive, show them off. That set of eye-catching displays will encourage your customers to move deeper into your store, especially if the elements used to make that display are on sale nearby.
You should show off the products for sale in your store within the displays for your reptiles. If a hide, a water bowl or a type of substrate is on sale within your walls, your customers should be able to see that product in use. In fact, consider utilizing the very cages you already stock for sale when preparing reptile displays. Commercial caging from brands like ZooMed and ExoTerra provide a solid baseline from which you can create those attractive, striking displays.
Think of these in the same manner that you might think of displaying aquarium display elements. When your reptile display can prompt a customer to think, “That would be neat to have in my turtle’s cage,” it’s likely that you’ve just made a sale.
Third, you must keep the needs of your individual reptiles in mind. While this starts with the basic care requirements of a given animal, think of the animals’ habits when placing the display itself. Turtles and tortoises, for instances, should generally be placed closer to ground level. More arboreal creatures, such as tree frogs and chameleons, should occupy higher shelves. Your biggest selling reptiles, such as bearded dragons, are typically best placed on middle shelves so that they can be easily seen.
Your staff should be involved in creating these displays from their very inception. By including your staff in display planning, you gain two vital benefits. You ensure an immediate buy-in from your staff as you grant them a degree of creative control over the displays. Also, you ensure that your staff is educated about the animals in your care and the items you have for sale.
Maintenance Is Key
Once you’ve set up your spectacular reptile displays, the difficulty then falls to maintenance. Daily keep up should be part of your staff’s protocol, but reevaluate what the word “daily” truly entails. The best, most successful pet stores never allow their displays to fall into disrepair or filth. If a cage is dirty, it gets cleaned instantaneously. If a water or food dish is dirty, it gets scrubbed out and refilled.
Animals in dirty cages are animals that don’t get sold. Keep those displays spotless and your sales will stay significantly higher. Again, your willingness to go above and beyond in maintaining your displays can be a make or break factor in selling animals and getting your customers to return.
Signs of Success
Finally, don’t forget about signage. Many retailers experience difficulties in selling elements like live food because they don’t advertise the fact that they have live crickets, mealworms or the like. Be sure that both your reptile displays and your subsidiary materials have clear, focused signage that directs customers toward those items that aren’t available in your local big-box store. When you can clearly dictate the message that your store carries items unavailable elsewhere, you ensure that business returns to your store time and again.