At a time when most of the UK is in lockdown and the majority of high street retailers are closed, pet retailers offer consumers a genuine reason to leave their homes to replenish pet supplies. Combined with a large increase in pet ownership and little other retail competition for consumers’ attention, there is currently a great opportunity for pet retailers to cement their position as a must visit store in the high street. But are all retailers making the most of this unique opportunity? We have spoken to some of our stockists and put together a rough guide of things to consider.

Crate an interesting experience: Consumers are looking for positive and enjoyable experiences when they shop. A great experience will leave customers coming back. Most pet lines are consumable products such as food, treats and litter products, which will need replacement. Gaining this repeat business is vitally important for business success. With customers visiting the store regularly, there is a need to maintain the positive shopping experience which will require proactive work from the store to keep things fresh.
Maximise your returns: To maintain customer interest and maximise your return from each store visit, be prepared to rotate the products on offer, change the layout especially in high impact areas such as the end of isles and around the tills. Be organised. Layout and lighting are key to creating a pleasant environment for your customers. A tidy, clean and organised store layout will give customers confidence to trust your product selection and will endorse your position as an expert, making them comfortable to seek your advice and expertise. If your customers see you as the expert they will continue to visit.
Be brand aware because your customers are: Consumers look for brands when shopping, and more so the new, younger generation of pet owners. Use brand and merchandise to create an impression of quality throughout your store. Branded products positioned together in store create a display and help to tell the brand story. Use merchandise provided by brands to develop the environment and make it interesting for the consumer with promotions and offers. Ask the brands to support your promotional activity. Most will when asked, pleased that a store is backing their range. The relationship you build with the brand owners will really help future business activity.
Know your customers: Your store location and typical customer profile will impact the products and brands you can successfully offer. Successful products offered in rural stores will differ from those in urban stores. Naturally the affluence of your clients will influence the price position of your product offering. But, take care not to assume your customers’ attitude to price. You may feel some premium brands are too expensive for your customers, yet they are possibly buying them online because they are not available locally. Ask your customers if there is anything they feel is missing from your store.
Have an online presence. Even if you do not have an ecommerce site, have a single landing page or facebook page. Most consumers search online for information about services in their area. Use this to tell the world about where you are, what you are doing and when events and promotions are taking place. For example, if you have a promotion on a food brand in February, post it online to encourage visits to the store. Regular updates to your page will keep visitors interested and improve your page ranking in search engine results.
Run events and attractions: Though difficult in times of social distancing, simply offering live animals is an attraction for families with children, who love to see small furries, fish and reptiles. Online competitions promoting new products with prizes to collect will engage local customers and keep them informed of what’s new. Begin now planning for events later in the year when you can run event days with visiting brand displays or fun days at local shows to encourage interaction with your customers and maintain the relationship.
For those passionate about pets, the local pet store is a key part of  their community and a lifeline to help and advice on pet care. With some targeted actions, store owners can build the store’s profile in their local community and reap profitable rewards.