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Designing Pet Products That Retailers Can't Say No To

What kinds of pet products are today's pet specialty retailers looking for? That is the question of a lifetime.

The short answer: the kind that will sell.

At the core of the discussion, we all have a basic understanding of what pet stores are looking for: products with low risk, high turnover, and high margins. But, what does that actually mean once you break it down into actionable steps?

The key to designing pet products that pet retailers can't say no to is to make them stand out, have high quality, are at the right price point, and fit with their current selection of products.

Saying No to "Me Too"

One of the easiest ways to get into pet product manufacturing is to follow these steps:

  1. Research what categories are the most successful at the time and where they're trending
  2. Find out which manufacturers are already making products that do well
  3. Research suppliers and factories that can make it cheaper
  4. Knock off the products and sell them at a lower price

But is that really the best way to make products people have to have?

We've all seen it before - the aisles of look-alike products at major trade shows such as Global Pet Expo and SuperZoo. While it works on occasion, there's only so many times a product can be knocked off before it loses its value.

Instead, use this as an opportunity to see what you can do different or better than the competition. Of course, this is often easier said than done, and takes a bit of creativity.

For example, perhaps you notice that a few manufacturers are missing the mark when it comes to the packaging of their products. You know that retailers prefer a certain type of packaging, and that's just not what they're getting.

Related Article: 2018 Pet Containment Trend Forecast

This is an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd by showing up with a product that truly adds value to those potentially bringing it into their stores and, ultimately, the end consumer.

Quality Over Quantity

Today's pet owners are pickier than ever about the quality of the products they buy for their pets. In fact, many are willing to splurge on their furry friends. After all, they've become a part of the family, haven't they?

Depending on whose doors you're vying to get into, quality may be the key difference between a "let's give it a try" and a firm "no, don't call me again." This is especially true if the retailers' customers primarily consist of millennial and generation Z pet owners.

In an age when nearly everything is digital, quality means more than ever. In the past, manufacturers could get away with producing low quality products and overcharging them because it would take a long time before word got around. Now, within just days of the end consumer purchasing your product, even one or two bad reviews will negatively impact sales for both you and your retailers.

Related Article: Beyond the Label - Identifying Key Trends in High Quality Pet Food

In order to ensure your products are of the highest quality possible, pay special attention to detail and perform quality assurance practices every step of the way. Even something such as a loose buckle or splitting wood is a cause for concern and should be looked into and solved before ending up at a consumer's doorstep.

Setting The Margin

You may have seen this before: a retail buyer looks at your product, ohhh's and ahhh's, and asks how much. You pass them a pricing sheet with your cost and the MSRPs (and MAP, if you have it) outlined, and suddenly they are no longer interested.

A product may be one-of-a-kind and of the highest quality possible, but if it's not at the right price point that makes sense to a retailer, you're going to get an immediate "no."

Do your research and do what you can to price your product at the ideal price point. Of course, you want to preserve plenty of margin for yourself as well, but if you can't even sell it to a retail buyer, how are you going to make that margin?

Related Article: How do MAP Policies Affect the Pet Industry?

Pricing your product is a careful balancing act. It must be at just the right price to:

  • Make you money
  • Make your retailer money
  • Make the end consumer willing to buy
  • Bonus: It's always good to have some wiggle room for negotiations and promotions.

If you're new to pricing pet products, consider taking the following steps to get as close as you can to the right price:

  1. Sit down with a spreadsheet and calculate your costs. Figure out the lowest you're willing to take as well as your ideal number.
  2. Ask close friends and your contacts (retail buyers are even better!) how much they'd pay for the product both as a consumer and as a retail buyer looking to make a profit
  3. Look at your competitors' MSRP and determine, based on your ideal margin, how much you could afford to keep in order to compete

This is not a strictly scientific on how to price your products, but should help give you a good idea on where to get started.

Related Article: The Key to Enforcing MAP Policies in the Pet Industry

Fitting In With Their Brand

The last thing you need to do is make sure you're selling your product to the right retailers. Believe it or not, not all retailers are made the same, and different stores have different goals and strategies in mind.

For example, if you're trying to sell a high tech pet product at the early adopter stage of the product lifecycle, then selling to a single-store natural pet store in Nebraska is not likely to be your best bet.

Conversely, if you're thinking of selling all-natural insect-protein pet food to a big box store, they may not bite until there are enough sales to prove its value.

Related Article: Forecasting the Next Big Trend in Pet Nutrition

Before you peddle your product to just any pet store, it's a good idea to go in with a strategy and an outline of which stores are an ideal fit. This way, you will have a higher success rate when selling to these stores and increasing your market share.

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Are you a retailer who has specific criteria for pet products you accept in your store? Leave a comment below and let us know. We'd be happy to include it!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley Hoffman is a freelance content marketer and writer for the pet industry. Growing up in the pet industry, she has keen insight on market trends and a passion for helping small businesses grow. Her portfolio includes various topics from pet food trends to using technology and marketing strategies to boost pet business sales. When she's not writing articles or working her day job, she's playing with her cat (Chewie), reading a book, or hiking one of Washington's many trails.

Visit her: Website | LinkedIn | Instagram

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