Over the last few weeks, I have visited pet stores in the USA, Europe and Australasia. Some of these stores were keen to ensure I was exposed to all the products they had on offer, whilst others hid products from view. The old adage is that if you cannot see it, you cannot buy it.
Researchers tell us that 70% of buying decisions are made with the eyes and therefore the first priority in setting up a retail pet store is to ensure you expose the customer to the products you have on offer.
In one store I visited, they were determined I would see their total offer, whilst in another store I was exposed to less than 20% of their offer.
Itâ€™s Not the Product; Itâ€™s the Flow
Remember, the first priority is not the product; itâ€™s the customer flow. Researchers such as Paco Underhill, in the United States, had carried out a lot of research on how we shop; the theories apply to all types of retail outlets and the pet industry is no different to a hardware store or fashion shop.
The first priority is to understand how subconsciously consumers who like to shop the shop. This all depends on what side of the road you drive on.
Those of you reading this article in countries where people drive on the left-hand side of the road will find consumers will prefer to shop in a clockwise arrangement. Those who drive on the right-hand side will prefer to flow around your store in a counter-clockwise arrangement.
This means the position of your checkout is critical to your success.
As a general rule, in left-hand drive countries the counter goes on the right and on the left in right-hand drive countries.
The worst layout I have experienced is what is commonly called â€œpig troughâ€ retailing. This is where the counter is placed in the centre of the store, about one third in. This encourages the first third of the store to be shopped and not behind the counter.
We recently worked with a retailer where he had a â€œpig troughâ€ system. We physically moved the counter on the day and the client phoned me at the end of the week to inform me that sales, since the counter move, had increased by 20%.
Itâ€™s Not the Product; Itâ€™s the Personal Space
People need space to shop. According to research by David Lewis and recorded in his book â€œThe Soul of the New Customerâ€, the biggest stress when shopping is lack of space. Donâ€™t provide customers with space and they will not linger longer.
The pet industry is a linger longer retail sector and therefore consumer space is especially critical.
What is called â€œthe personal bubbleâ€ or â€œbuttbrushâ€ by Paco Underhill, varies from country to country. Australians need the largest personal space, whilst Indonesians require the least personal space. The Brits require more than the French and so it goes on.
In an article like this, I can only apply general rules.
As a general rule, 60% of your retail floor space should be allocated to consumers and 40% to product. As you tighten the consumer space by placing more stock on the floor, your result is consumers will see less stock.
I recently worked with a client where we removed 20% of the stock to get the consumer: product ratio correct.
When we had completed the exercise, we surveyed their customers. The biggest response was a â€˜congratulationâ€™ on extending the product range. It was just that customers could now see the product.
Itâ€™s Not the Product; Itâ€™s the Category Placement
One of the keys to success is called â€˜bounce merchandisingâ€™. In the supermarket industry they strategically place the toilet paper, coffee, bread, sugar and cheese to ensure that you visit all parts of the supermarket. Consumers do not realise they are doing this, but I must admit, my wife, who knows the theory, finds it infuriating, but she is a minority.
The same applies to a pet store; you need to introduce bounce merchandising and you achieve this with the critical placement of key categories.
Remember, for example 55% of Americans have a cat or dog and the pet supply category is worth US$18 billion in that country alone. The location of cat and dog food is critical to maximising sales per square foot or metre across the whole store.
Ideally, the cat and dog supply categories should be separated in the store. Neither category should be located in the first third of the store; make your customers shop the shop.
About the Author
John Stanley is a conference speaker and retail consultant with over 20 years experience in 15 countries. John works with pet retailers around the world assisting them with their merchandising, staff and management training, customer flow, customer service and image. Visit www.johnstanley.cc or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.