As the inestimable George Harrison once sang, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there…”
The global shipping and logistics crisis from 2021 has affected nearly every industry. With major shortages in both logistics materiel and personnel, the ability to get a package from point A to point B has become a whole new challenge, with delays on call sides.
While ordering early and consolidating shipments can help alleviate this issue, analysis of past purchasing trends could pay dividends as 2022 opens; spend some time reflecting on which animals, which supplies, and which habitats have sold well in past winter months to better acclimatize to the coming quarter.
However, this winter does feature an additional challenge, albeit one that could prove quite profitable to the enterprising pet retailer. One of the most notable shortages across the global economy has been that of rare earth metals, which are used in all manner of microchips and electronics.
These shortages have particularly struck the video games industry – Sony and Microsoft struggle to deliver units of the Playstation 5 and XBox Series X, due to the necessary materials to create those consoles. Other toys and electronics suffer the same issue: without those rare earth metals, there simply aren’t enough units available to fulfill the demand.
Naturally, this is right where the pet retailer can fit right in. A well-targeted advertising campaign coupled with a few affordably-priced bundles could lead a legion of post-holiday parents to your storefront, eager to provide a new friend with a recently acquired gift card or other holiday cash.
Consider a piece of advice we have offered numerous times in the past: the animal itself only represents the beginning of a sale. You may want to offer steep discounts on a given animal, if not even at “no” cost, if bundled with an appropriate habitat or purchase of necessary supplies. If a customer knows that they can rely on your store for a particular ultraviolet bulb, a box of live feed crickets or decorations for a new enclosure, they become all the more likely to return for additional purchases for both that pet and for any others they might have.
This opportunity is only magnified by the overall growth of the pet industry as a whole. With telework posture becoming a more permanent feature within the American workforce and the increased “humanization” of pets by Millennials and Generation-Z consumers, the market for both new pets and for additional pet-related materiel has only increased, despite the world’s economic challenges. The need for animal companionship is, after all, universal, and the sky’s the limit in terms of habitat decorations, pet outfits, specialty foods and treats and all manner of other subsidiary purchases. The initial purchase of an animal pales, when compared to the continued sales of these secondary materials, providing a consistent, ongoing income stream from customer after customer for months to come.
FURRY FAMILY MEMBERS
This humanization of pets has been on the steady rise over the past several years and shows no signs of slowing down. A recent Advantage Solutions graphic notes that more than one in 10 U.S. households has a social media account for a pet. In addition, 65 percent of survey respondents claimed to tame more photos of their pets than their significant others. The savvy retailer will find ways to leverage these trends to your advantage, including promoting impulse items that accent a pet’s photogenic nature. Displaying these products on endcaps or locations near clothing would be wise.
At the risk of being a touch maudlin, consider adding a holiday-themed display to your store if it doesn’t already carry one. A recent PetPedia article noted that over 50 percent of pet owners bought their pets a gift for the holiday, beyond the gifts for their actual human family members.
As mentioned earlier, gift cards and other holiday spending money can have long-lasting repercussions well after the initial holiday. Well-presented and stocked, those products can become easy sales through the winter for customers who might only be stopping in for some cat litter or fish food. The lure of a clever add-on is simply too much for many of us.
As 2022 begins, the sky’s the limit for the pet industry. Even as many other facets of society struggle with economic woes, the pet industry continues to expand and explore new areas. Don’t be afraid to look ahead. Take the moment to plan for a bright future, ready to bring new pets and new experiences to your loyal customers throughout the year to come.
John Mack is the founder and CEO of Reptiles by Mack. He is also the chair of the PIJAC board of directors and is on the PIJAC Zoonosis Committee. His Ohio-based company is widely recognized as one of the largest reptile breeders and suppliers in the USA today.