February 1, 2015

What to Stock

Deciding what products to stock or how involved to get depends on a number of factors, including space, funds and knowledge base. Consumables like food, water conditioners and additives, and filter media are always in demand. These products don’t require a huge investment and don’t take up much space. For stores with a little more room, setting up a working pond or water feature and displaying full pond kits, filters, pumps, fountains, underwater lighting and other equipment will create the “wow” factor and establish your store as a credible pond center.

“Proven brands will sell quicker and resonate with the end consumer for higher profitability,” said Tim Plafcan, senior product manager, consumables at United Pet Group, Aquatics, Pond Division. “Companies like Tetra not only back their products, but they have staff and tools to help new hobbyists get started and be successful. Also, a proven brand that is serious about the category will invest in a full line of products that allows that retailer to be a go-to resource for that customer. And backing those products with support, knowledge and inspiration will create a life-long customer.”

Most pond owners have fish, making koi and goldfish food an obvious choice for retailers. Sales staff should be well versed in the key features of growth, color enhancing and spring/winter wheat germ-based foods, and they should know how to sell them. Letting shoppers feed fish in your store pond puts the food into their hands and gives your sales staff an opportunity to explain the benefits of feeding it to their own fish.

Most municipal water supplies in America contain chloramines, which are harmful to fish and must be neutralized with a water conditioner, such as PondCare Stress Coat from API and AquaSafe by TetraPond. This is especially important at the start of pond season when hobbyists are filling their ponds, though regular water exchanges should be encouraged throughout the season. Make sure your customers know they should use a conditioner every time they refill the pond.

Algae growth is a common problem for pond owners, especially in smaller ponds with low circulation. Algaecides and water clarifiers offer a cost-effective quick fix for temporary problems, especially in newly set up ponds that have not yet achieved a natural balance. They should not, however, be considered a substitute for proper pond design and management practices. GreenClean by BioSafe Systems, PondCare Algaefix by API, and Algae Control by TetraPond are possible solutions to this problem.

Selling Pond Supplies

Using seasonal end caps or POP displays to promote pond supplies gives your customers a fresh look at your store and will help increase sales of consumable items.

“Tetra has a dedicated sales team that will help merchandise and supply plan-o-grams, signage, shelf dividers, danglers with links to online content, and videos and take-away literature to maximize sales and educate the consumer,” said Plafcan.

Quality, performance, durability and manufacturer support are crucial when considering big ticket items like filters, pumps and UV sterilizers. Equipment should be time-tested, built to last and perform up to the manufacturer’s claims.

When recommending filters, always take stocking density of the pond and feeding programs into consideration. Pond filters, like aquarium filters, should always be sized larger than the actual gallonage of the pond. Tetra offers a full line of filters, including the Pond Waterfall Filter and the Bio-Active Pressure Filter with UV Clarifier, and Laguna has the PressureFlo and ClearFlo lines.

Also, replacement parts like pump impellers, seals and UV lamps should be readily available from distributors or directly from the manufacturer. Make sure you have these items in stock for the equipment you sell, especially in spring when defective parts and other problems are most commonly discovered. Having to wait for a necessary part to arrive can be disastrous for pond owners and will quickly sour them on your store and the products you carry.

Finally, independent aquatics retailers have a golden opportunity to distinguish themselves from big box stores, gardening centers and home improvement outlets.

According to Tim Plafcan, these stores “tend to keep a limited assortment and just sell core items. They do not display inspirational setups and tend to just sell replacement items. Independent retailers can focus on projects and show consumers how beautiful a pond can be and sell them the right products to be successful. Some of our independent retailers will conduct how-to workshops, and some will organize and conduct a yearly pond tour to inspire their customers and encourage others to dive into the hobby.”

Pond season is almost upon us. With good planning, creative displays and effective merchandising, independent retailers are in position to have a profitable summer.

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