By Mohan Kadam*

Pet Specialty Retail Management is defined as the process which assists pet parents, prospective pet owners and animal lovers to procure the desired products from pet retail stores for the personal use of their pets. This includes all steps beginning with getting the customers into the pet retail outlets to fulfilling their buying requirements.

Effective pet specialty retail gives a basic overview of the subtle art of visual merchandising and pays due attention to all aspects of the retail business including customer relationship management, brand management and sales management.

The Pet Specialty Retail segment in the Indian Pet Care industry has always worked on the market forces of demand and supply. India is a developing country with a mixed economy, and the prices of most products are fixed according to the demand and supply forces. Traditionally, this market was product-oriented, but the current boom in Indian pet care industry has tilted the scales towards the side of the customers.

With the growing number of urban Indians adopting pets to counter loneliness; and  marriage and childbirth taking a backseat due to the rising prominence of careers, the pet specialty retail business in India is growing at an unprecedented rate. There is a huge competition in the pet retail sector, which makes it all the more important to make your retail store stand out in a sea of lookalikes.

In order to attract traffic to your pet retail business outlet, the following things should be kept in mind:

There must be a proper balance between backward and forward integration. Regular supply of products reflects the efficacy of a shopkeeper on his business. When a customer enters the store and asks for a bulk order, you must be in the position to fulfill the requirements of the customer.

Visual Merchandising plays a vital role in enhancing the retail business. Visual merchandising refers to the aesthetic display of the merchandise to attract the potential buyers, prompt them to buy and eventually increase the sales of the pet retail stores. The store must offer a positive ambience to the customers for them to enjoy their shopping.

Knowing Your Customers: When a customer enters in your store, you should be ready to cater to them and try to understand what s/he is actually searching for. When you satisfy your customers’ needs, s/he will do word-of-mouth promotion, which is the best means of advertisement. Empowering customers will add a cherry on the cake. Many a times, customers come in with a problem, but don’t know the solution. In such instances, guiding the customer with the correct advice and assisting him/her in making the purchase will help in increasing the market share of your outlet in the long run.

Effective Communication: Nowadays, everyone wants to be pleased in one or the other manner. A dulcet voice pleases our customer and makes it easy to communicate from both sides. Make sure your sales staff uses a sweet and melodious voice while attending to customers. Basic etiquettes such as greeting customers when they enter the store and thanking them once they make their purchases helps in building brand image. These pleasantries help in providing a sense of belongingness to store visitors.

Proper Attention: A smiling face will always make life easy in the retail sector. The customer is the “king pin’’ of the market, and customer satisfaction is the ultimate target of a shopkeeper. Keeping in mind the needs and wants of customers will definitely increase the goodwill of a particular pet retail outlet or chain. To achieve this end, you can make a list of customer queries that are not available in your store and try to stock them as soon as possible. You can give your customers a timeframe as to when these products would be available at your outlet.

Dealing with Dogaholic Customers: We live in a tech savvy country, where the customers are more educated than the retailers. There are a few customers who are Dogaholic – they want to explore new products for their loving pet. They are generally known as Early Adapter, as they are always ready to experiment with new upcoming pet products in the market. It is important to keep abreast of the latest trends in the pet care segment, and stock the store with trending and relevant products to please this group of customers. Also, your staff should be trained in handling these enthusiastic dogaholics in a polite and pleasant manner.

A pet specialty retail outlet that stands out from the competitors is more likely to prosper in the long run and have a continuous flow of satisfied customers. These simple tips are the most affordable means to reach this business goal.

* Mohan Kadam is the Proprietor of Windsor – The Pet shop. The pet store, located in Khan Market in New Delhi, is 25 years old