As we discussed in last month’s article — and numerous times before — the paramount concern for any person in our industry must always be the health and well-being of our animals. From breeding, to transport, to initial sale, and every follow-on purchase, we remain responsible for the health and safety of our animals throughout the full process. And, while advice from experts can carry our customers to the heights of knowledge, that information does little unless your store carries the products necessary to make that care a reality.
If nothing else, the health care facet of the pet industry has proven to be quite the burgeoning opportunity. In fact, an April 2022 Precedence Research analysis projected that the pet health care segment of our industry will reach approximately $76.82 billion, a massive increase over the actual 2021 numbers of $53.15 billion.
Precedence’s study estimates the largest areas of growth in pet pharmaceuticals, vaccinations and other preventative medicines. In 2020, Merck Animal health doubled its animal vaccine production capacity at its Kansas manufacturing facility, representing a massive spike in vaccine creation for animals.
Given this upsurge, consider using your store as a vaccination site, partnering with a local veterinary service, shelter or animal rescue. We’ve stressed the importance of these sorts of partnerships in the past, particularly with vets, in building communal goodwill and ensuring symbiotic repeat business. Such an event can push significant foot traffic through your store, while simultaneously ensuring that any animals purchased that day are completely up to date with their relevant shots. Furthermore, this concept will ensure that your customers have the ability to locate knowledgeable experts for their pets from the outset of purchase, immediately associating your store with subject matter expertise.
In terms of other health products, it is important that you perform thorough research and vet your products carefully. We have discussed in prior articles the importance of performing your due diligence, ensuring that the products that you stock are peer-reviewed and come highly recommended. While many products are intensely tested at all levels, others could be described as little more than placebos, with negligible health benefits. Ensure that the products that you offer have rigorous clinical trials behind them and, if you’re ever suspicious of a new product, confer with your local experts in the field. Your due diligence in these matters literally saves animals’ lives.
As we’ve stressed in the past, ensure that your staff is cognizant of the products that they’re selling, and what their purpose is. If a customer intends to buy a new frog or lizard, for instance, your staff should be knowledgeable enough to immediately recommend calcium supplements to accompany those creatures’ diets. While much of that impetus comes from proper staff training, that training cannot take place without having a thorough knowledge of both what that given animal needs for care and how that supplement aids them from a health standpoint.
When displaying these products, though, you typically have two primary approaches: keep health care supplements near the given animal for which they are best suited or keep all health care supplements together in a specific area of your store. For most stores, we recommend the former. It becomes much easier to bundle sale items together during the purchase of an animal, when those items are close at hand. Plus, they can serve as a visual and tactile reminder to your staff to emphasize the importance of continued animal health and how to best serve the customer’s new pet. This goes doubly so for vitamins and other supplements, such as in the reptile example above.
For reptile food, consider keeping calcium supplements and similar items near your stock of crickets and mealworms. Doing so provides the impetus for your staff to immediately offer, “Do you already have calcium powder for these?” along with the food sale. Not only does this provide additional possibility for sales, but also ensures that your customers’ pets remain healthy moving forward.
Health isn’t always an easy subject to discuss. Oftentimes, it means discussing injury, illness, and even death. However, by educating your staff and customers, by stocking items that are well-vetted and thoroughly researched, and by fostering your partnerships with vets and shelters, you can ensure that the pets in your area are truly well cared for years to come.
John Mack is the founder and CEO of Reptiles by Mack. He is also the chair of the Pet Advocacy Network board of directors and is on the Pet Advocacy Network’s Zoonosis Committee. His Ohio-based company is widely recognized as one of the largest reptile breeders and suppliers in the U.S.A. today.