September 1, 2015

If you want to keep up with the Joneses in 2015, experts agree that it’s a good idea to offer a variety of sizes and cages made from different materials, including stainless steel, iron and powder-coated iron, aluminum, plastic and acrylic, and cold rolled steel. Likewise, it is wise to merchandise more than the standard rectangle by stocking dome top, Victorian top and play top type cages, too.

According to Kim Everett, owner of Los Angeles-based pet store The Perfect Parrot, customers are more willing to buy larger cages for their birds than in years past, partially due to the fact that cage makers provide a more expansive array of sizes and options today.

“It’s also cheaper to buy a larger cage today than it was around 10 years ago, in some part because cages can be more efficiently packaged and shipped today than previously,” Everett said, whose top-selling bird cage is a 32-inch dome top by HQ Cages. “A cage that I sell now for about $400 would have sold for something like $700 10 years ago.”

Easy to Clean, Easy to Tote

Shoppers nowadays particularly prefer cages that are low maintenance and user-friendly, said Melanie K. Allen, avian product specialist, Rolf C. Hagen Corp.

Case in point: Living World’s new Sol Bird Cage features a patent pending tray system that simplifies the task of keeping a bird’s environment clean. The habitat includes a removable tray that fits into a patented overlapping base design, ensuring an easy and mess-free cleaning. There are multiple feeding doors for easy access to the bird’s food and water, and it assembles in minutes with no tools required.

According to Terry Gao, president, Caitec Corporation, bird owners also appreciate the wider variety of temporary travel cages and carriers available today, which make it much easier to transport a pet to places like the vet. To tap into this trend, Caitec just launched a larger version of its popular Perch and Go carrier for bigger birds like macaws and cockatoos that measures 17.5 x 15 x 30.25 inches and consists of high impact-resistant, lightweight polycarbonate stainless steel, designed for good cross-ventilation. Its medium-sized Perch and Go carrier, meanwhile, offers a clear view inside and outside the cage.

Retailing Rights and Wrongs

Retailers seeking to enhance their cage offerings need to pick and choose their products carefully.

“Stores face a lot more challenges now than ever before. There are so many sites that can sell a lot cheaper due to the fact that Internet sellers have lower overhead,” Gao said. “Retailers have to be a lot more diligent in picking their vendors and product lines.”

Gao added that retailers selling cages also need to stock many of the accessories and supplies that go inside those cages, including dishes, droppers, toys, perches and liners. Be sure to showcase these products inside your live bird cages and setups on display.

“This requires that retailers have better knowledge and make the package ready,” Gao said.

Additionally, unoccupied cages that remain in a corner or unassembled in a box won’t sell nearly as well as or capture a shoppers’ attention like a livestock display cage.

“Retailers that show the cage in action, that is, with birds living in the cage, can easily demonstrate the features of the cage,” Allen said. “The consumer can see how the bird looks and interacts in his or her environment. This strategy helps the consumer make confident decisions in making an essential investment for their pet. It’s understandable if you have limited space and choose to keep cage inventory in their original boxes, but you should at least have a couple of cage models set up in the store so customers can see all the features and benefits of those cages.”

Everett recommended offering a discount on the cage if the customer chooses to buy a live bird in the same transaction. The sweet spot for her store is 20 percent off—a promotion that has worked well.

“I will also take less of a margin on larger size cages to throw a bone to the customer and entice them to take the bigger cage vs. a smaller one,” Everett said.

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