PHOENIX -- In response to the growing demand and high profitability of pet supplies today, Abco markets here is fine-tuning its pet departments by evaluating the product mix and resetting the sections with greater variety.
With the category being "one of the few providing the supermarket with full margins, we're updating with all the new items, taking a real hard look at movement and getting out of the slower-moving products," said Vic Anthony, nonfood buyer.
In an attempt to make the product mix more interesting to pet owners, Abco implemented a new pet schematic in March with 30 to 40 new items. Products included new items in cat and dog collars, leads and leashes, a whole new line of white leather and rawhide chew products, and higher ticket chemicals for treating flea and tick problems in the home.
The movement analysis to identify the slower moving pet products and replace them with greater variety resulted in replanogramming the section from in-line to a 3-D endcap position.
By moving the department to an endcap, the chain realized a 15% to 20% space gain from the previous 12 to 20 feet it had within the in-line sections. Pet supply products now wraparound from the endcap fixture to 6 to 8 feet of in-line gondola shelving at one side of the pet food aisle, resulting in the larger overall department.
This change lead to a 20% to 22% improvement in sales and improved visibility in the traffic flow, said Anthony.
The 74-unit chain is also taking a more aggressive approach in ads and circulars to highlight pet supplies and focus customer attention on the section.
"To get this business back [from pet supply stores], a supermarket must be on an aggressive promotion program to get the products out to the consumers, so they know we are in this business. We must also watch our mix, offer the best selection available and stay current with all the new items, including newer product entries such as in new neon-color flea and tick collars for cats and dogs, leads and a whole new toy line," said Anthony.
The chain merchandises pet supplies on J-hooks, promotes the segment off-shelf on floor stands and is planning to give the category more frequent ad treatments.
"We'll probably run a pet supply ad at least once a month. Possibly, we'll vary items in family groups like all rawhide, all collars, all chemicals and that type of thing," Anthony said. Previously, advertising dollars spent for pet supplies were more limited. The expanded item mix contains higher ticket four-step tick and flea treatment systems retailing for about $25, which the chain introduced last month.
Consumers "with tick and flea conditions in their homes are paying that higher retail for these treatment systems at the large pet supply outlets. It's a whole system where you can treat the animal, the bedding, the carpet and other fabrics. "It's a pretty steep retail, but I think it's still cheaper for people with that problem than calling in an outside pest control service," said Anthony.
The changes Abco is making in the category should also help combat the increased competition from pet supply outlets that have expanded in many areas.
"These stores are springing up everywhere. They do a large volume, have a chunk of the business and are here to stay for a while. They're prices may be lower, but are not that cheap, and they carry a lot of stuff that's imported in a lot of bulk sizes," the buyer said.
Anthony noted however that pet supplies "aren't as price-sensitive as other nonfood. If somebody is looking for a package of soft rubber sponge balls for their cat, they're going to buy it. Obviously, the large pet store chains and outlets have taken some of that business, but we're starting to get our share back."