July 1, 2014

Though it seems to run against the traditional grain of thought, pet stores do not make the biggest profits by selling pets.

Rather, pet stores make their best profits from selling the pet supplies that go along with those pets. The pets themselves are eye-catching and can spur a purchase of an individual animal, but true profit is made not from the animal itself, but from the food, housing and other supplies that are necessary to maintain that animal for years to come.

For many years, pet stores have followed an archaic policy that essentially equates to “put the milk in the back of the store.” Just as a supermarket places milk and similar necessities at the rear of the store, past the chips, soda pop, and other impulse items, pets were placed at the rear of the store, in the hopes that a family’s children would pull their parents along through the remainder of the store to look at the kitties, puppies or snakes.

We recommend nearly the opposite.

Reptiles are eye-catching and belong in the front 20 percent of your store. The “milk,” if you will, then becomes the pet supplies that a repeat customer continually needs to sustain their pet. On their way to pick up a new heat lamp or a tub of crickets, the customer passes by all of your new displays and starts contemplating a new pet purchase.

In addition to placement of displays, the displays themselves must be appealing and interesting to your potential customers. Setting up a simple reptile cage is simple, but a blank terrarium with limited hides and plant life appeals to no one. Rather, consider “themed” cages, designed to resemble a desert or jungle setting.

Color is particularly important here. Setting up basic color contrasts between background and animal can really make a snake or lizard “pop” against their surroundings, making both animal and decorations more appealing to your customers.

Further, and I cannot emphasize this enough, use the very equipment that you sell when setting up a reptile display. Any item that you use should absolutely be found on your shelves. An attractive terrarium or cage spurs your customers to decorate their own cages, and if those very elements are on sale nearby, you’ve earned yourself an additional sale.

An often neglected element in terms of reptile displays is actual placement. Height absolutely matters when it comes to reptiles, as the creatures’ tendencies in lifestyle can make them easier or harder to see, based on where their cage is located. Large, floor-dwelling reptiles like turtles and tortoises should stay on the floor level, as customers can look down to see them. Tree-dwelling lizards like chameleons and geckos should be on higher shelves, as customers can look up into the in-cage plants to see the animal in question. Snakes and floor-dwelling lizards should generally be placed at or near eye-level, for ease of visibility.

Sophisticated retailers in all areas, not just the pet trade, understand the value of creating appealing displays for their products. One of the masters of creating interesting, unique displays for reptiles has to be Prehistoric Pets in Los Angeles.

Owners Jay and Becky Brewer truly go above and beyond when creating eye-catching displays for their reptiles, rivaling museums and zoos in terms of variety and creativity. If you’re stumped for ideas on creating a display, check out Prehistoric Pets’ website, www.prehistoricpets.com, for some inspiration.

Our next article: Reptile Food: Feeding your bottom line more than you may realize.


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