One of the most time-consuming tasks a pet retail store owner will do is to inventory and maintain the pet product inventory. This article isn't about which point of sale (POS) program to use to manage the inventory, it's about how to know when to "retire" certain pieces of inventory and how.
Every purchase you make to stock the shelves at your pet retail location is a shot in the dark for many pet retailers. Unless you have a clientele who will tell you exactly what they'd like to see and if you can count on them buying that particular product, you simply don't know if it will sell. How can you? The shopping public is fickle.
Some pet parents may jump on a trendy product -- whether food, training products, clothing or leashes, for example. Other pet parents have their tried-and-true pet products that their pets love and thrive on and will never make a change -- no matter how much "better" the new product line you're introducing claims to be. "Better" is subjective, of course but unless a pet parent sees an issue with his or her beloved pet, they are usually brand loyal.
Does Your Pet Store Inventory Need A Refresh?
Okay, we said this article wasn't about your POS, but a quick scan through it will easily let you know which products are moving off the shelf and which are simply taking up space. You can also do a walk-through of your store and we'll bet you can quickly tell (perhaps by the dust on the products!) which items you've invested in that haven't moved since you put them on display. Those non-selling items are taking up valuable real estate and if you want to make sales, you may need to take a loss on that particular item, get it off your shelves and replace it with something that will sell.
- Look at "use by" and expiration dates on items. Discount the price on them to move them out the door or you will be forced to toss them when the expiration date is upon you. You're going to take a loss on the product, but it may be wise to recoup some of your investment, if possible.
- Jump online and look at what products are trending. Are you carrying some items that are similar? If so, move them to the front of the store or place them on the counter by the cash register where they may become an impulse purchase. Create signage to note "if you've seen this trending item, or if you've wondered about this new product...try this!"
- If you have a tracking system that lets you know that ABC customer has regularly purchased XYZ item, reach out to that person and let them know you will be discounting the price on that item. Offer a customer a coupon or a BOGO on an item they regularly purchase that you're trying to clear off the shelf.
How can a pet retailer know what to carry? It's simply not possible for most pet retail owners, unless you're a big chain, to carry every new product that hits the market. Your shelf space is valuable. The money you have to spend on inventory is limited. You need to spend wisely and move items off the shelf regularly.
Here are some ways to reinvigorate your inventory:
- Do a complete store overhaul. Take every item off the shelf, clean it and clean the shelves.
- Rearrange the store layout. If you've always had collars and leashes by the front door, move them and display food or cat items or your reptile display.
- Ask your customers what items they'd love to see you carry and why.
- Ask regular customers if they have any special orders you can fill. They may come to your store for their dog food but go to a different store for their cat litter needs; make your store a one-stop shop if possible. Remember, you simply cannot cater to every shopper and every shopper's need.
- Signage helps. Make signs to highlight new and/or improved items. Make signs that highlight the benefits of a particular food, supplement or harness.
- Take photos of your customer and/or your customer's pet and hang it by a particular item. Something like, "Hey, Mr. Fluffy loves this food and his pet parent agrees!" Show a "satisfied" customer because that will make a connection.
You know your store, your customers and your location best and because of that you need to give your inventory a long, hard look as we head into 2019. Take some time today, before January 1 becomes a reality and see what you can do to move some inventory and make space for new!
What suggestions could you offer pet retail owners on ways to know what to carry, what not to carry and how to highlight particular products? We'd love to know!