BY JACINTHE MOREAU, World Pet Association president
“Immerse yourself” in the exciting underwater world of aquatics at Aquatic Experience 2018, taking place October 19-21, in Secaucus, New Jersey. A conference and trade show for specialty retailers and hobbyists alike, this must-attend event celebrates a passion and dedication to aquatic retailing and provides retailers unrivaled access to the trends and insights they need to move their businesses and industry forward.
It is fascinating to watch the aquatic industry change and adapt throughout the years. Right now, the aquatic industry is flourishing and has the potential for significant growth in the future. In fact, a 2014 survey by the American Pet Products Association found that approximately 1.3 million American households enjoy saltwater aquariums that are home to 9.3 million fish. This growth in consumer demand marks opportunity for retailers to tap into loyal consumers and appeal to new customers by staying on top of trends and stocking new products.
That’s where World Pet Association (WPA), producers of Aquatic Experience, can help. We realize there are challenges for retailers of fishkeeping, but with our eyes solidly on providing support for industry retailers, WPA believes success comes in the form of well-informed independent retailers and their staff, who are armed with the best information and products to retain loyal customers and attract new audiences.
As a leader in aquatics, WPA values ongoing education that meets retailer and industry needs. Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder and publisher of Retail Minded, says that in today’s retail environment it is important to “never stop researching. Very simply, always research what you can do to improve your sales, your marketing, your merchandising, your employees and even yourself.” Her comments echo WPA’s eagerness to provide the industry with the most cutting-edge business best practices, trend information and marketing chops they need to stay competitive.
With this goal in mind, Aquatic Experience opens the door to three days of education for retailers on topics that range from social media and all things digital to how to take your brick-and-mortar store online. Retailers will discover applicable advice from subject matter experts and explore new content at sessions like, “Building and Maintaining a Thriving Aquatic Business in Today’s Digital World” and “Are Your Customers Finding You on Social Media?” Additionally, the popular Fish Health Management Course will give retailers hands-on experiential training that can be applied to their daily routines. This class is a fantastic way to give staff members an opportunity to grow their skills and garner expertise that leads to elevated customer service. The wide offering of session topics will ensure every retailer gets the tools, insights and experiences they need to enhance every business.
Aquatic Experience not only offers education, but also a new product showcase that highlights high-tech innovation. With the popularity of online shopping, it’s critical for independent retailers to distinguish their product and service mix to appeal to new and returning customers. An Inc Magazine article, “5 Ways Small Retailers Can Compete (& Win),” says one way successful retailers are thriving is by differentiating their marketing mix with exclusive, interesting product offerings: “Because large retailers rarely take chances on new products or new developers, specialty stores have the first opportunity to offer exclusive new items.”
The event features emerging technology-based innovations like connected aquarium care, apps for lights and sensors, widely available UV filters, nano tanks and others, successfully driving traffic as customers look to test new tech before making their purchase. Aquatic Experience is the best place to discover new trends and strategies to stay competitive in today’s market and is the event where knowledge building and solutions-based planning takes place.
With more than 61,000 square feet of exhibits, displays and products, retailers will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with aquatic professionals to discover new innovations in saltwater and freshwater, experience the exciting new craze of aquascaping and discover new pond and marine animals. For retailers and manufacturers, Aquatic Experience is the perfect investment of time to learn what attracts customers and feeds their bottom line. Join me at the show October 19-21 at Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey.