The single most expensive purchase a bird owner is going to make is not necessarily the animal itself—it’s often the enclosure their feathered friend will inhabit. Hence, it’s good business sense to accentuate aviary offerings in your store by providing an array of species-friendly sizes, styles and colors from which customers can choose. And nowadays, there’s plenty of variety and innovation to consider adding to your set.
But too often pet retailers leave this priority purchase to chance, failing to educate patrons on the benefits of carefully selecting a cage and scrutinizing key features. Many also fail to properly display and promote cages within their store. The result is that dollars for dometops and other enclosures are too often spent online. By staying abreast of the latest cage trends and products and stocking worthy SKUs, you can build a brick-and-mortar loyal clientele.
Building a Better Home
John Lance, owner of A&E Cage Company, LLC, the Burlington, New Jersey-headquartered maker of avian hard goods—like its new large-sized Elegant Playtop Cage ideal for conures, cockatiels and small parrots—says sales of pet bird supplies, including cage sales, have been on the rise in recent years.
“We’ve been observing double-digit sales increases every year,” says Lance, who pointed out that the average consumer spend for an enclosure ranges from $150 to $500 or more. “Today, shoppers are looking for the largest cage they can afford. The most popular designs continue to be dometops and playtop cages.”
Jason Savitt, president of Prevue Pet Products in Chicago, Illinois, concurs that size matters among customers.
“Cage designs continue to emphasize more living space for birds and better access for them to explore different areas of their cage. Also, doors are getting bigger and more plentiful on bird cages, which allows for better accessibility and cleanability,” Savitt noted.
After dometops and playtops, flight cages, which allow birds to spread their wings, and travel cages are increasingly in demand.
“Cages designed specifically for travel have become hugely popular as more people are travelling with their birds on recreational trips and to the vet,” Savitt said. “In fact, more pet parents are purchasing multiple cages, whether it’s a separate cage for transport or as a holding station while cleaning another cage. People are also desiring an additional cage for a different location, like the living room, bedroom, porch or office.”
This speaks to a larger movement—“one where pets are treated more like family members and a variety of living options are being provided for birds,” according to Savitt.
Other Aviary Trends
Also on the rise are aesthetically-pleasing aviaries awash with color and/or sporting interesting shapes or user-friendly features. Exhibit A: Prevue’s new Palm Beach Budgie Collection and Soho Cockatiel Collection, with each series offering three unique shapes and colors (violet, orange or green for the former; yellow, red or purple for the latter). Exhibit B: Vision Bird Cages by HARI, which recently rolled out three fresh color choices (turquoise, orange, and olive). Exhibit C: Caitec’s Tree Tops Clear View Bird Habitat, a handsome white cage that has bars on two sides and removable windows on the other two sides for better bird visibility.
“Cages that blend seamlessly with home decor continue to be a go-to choice for consumers today, as well,” said Marissa Kactioglu, project manager with Penn-Plax, Inc., the Hauppauge, New York-based company. “And all-in-one value cages that include a variety of accessories are in demand among novice and seasoned bird owners alike.”
Kactioglu cites two new Penn-Plax products as examples: the BCK1 Small Bird Value Kit and BCK3 Medium Bird Value Kit, each including a starter cage bundled with toys, cuttlebone, calcium perch, and five-step ladder, all at a bargain price.
At The Parrot and Bird Emporium pet store in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts, co-owner Deb Ciepiela is careful to offer cages for every budget—20 models in all, retailing from $40 to $700.
“It’s important to have a cage represented in your store for every different size of bird you sell or cater to,” Ciepiela said. “Our job is to educate customers about the correct size cage recommended for their breed.”
Many consumers want to go small and inexpensive, “but we try to convince them that in a year or two they’ll be back reinvesting in a bigger, better cage,” Ciepiela added. “Our motto here is, there’s no such thing as going too big for your bird.”
Melanie Allen, avian product specialist for HARI, a division of The Hagen Group in Mansfield, Massachusetts, agrees that it’s important to convince patrons that they get what they pay for.
“I’m seeing more frustration with bird owners settling for low-quality cage metals that quickly rust with everyday maintenance. Consequently, bird owners are giving more consideration now to stainless steel and aluminum cages,” Allen said.
Cages sporting powder-coat zinc finishes are also hot with shoppers. MidWest Homes For Pets, for instance, boasts this feature on its dometop and playtop cages, available in up to five sizes.
Closing the Sale
Cages are often a one-time buy—whether or not it’s a big-ticket register ring for your store will depend on your salesmanship strategies.
“It’s smart to keep an ever-changing supply of cages on your floor so shoppers can see there are many choices available to be purchased,” Lance said. “Rotate your cages and mix up your set occasionally.”
Don’t just group your cages together randomly in an aisle and call it a day, either.
“Pet stores need to display pet furniture like a showroom. Creating one or two lifestyle settings not only helps customers envision the setup in their home, but it makes your store a more inviting place to shop,” Savitt explained.
Also, consider carrying more live birds and showcasing them in models of cages you sell, “but be careful not to house too many birds in one cage or it will look much smaller than it actually is,” Kactioglu cautions.
Remember, too, that your customer can’t go online to buy a bird, so use that to your advantage.
“Encourage anyone who buys a bird from you to buy a cage, too, and don’t be afraid to charge a good premium price when the bird accompanies the cage at the same transaction,” Lance said.