Pet Age Holds Retailer Forum in New York City

Pet Age
Nicole Gifford
August 20,2015

On Thursday, November 12, Pet Age hosted a Retailer Forum event at New York City's Vanderbilt Suites hotel, bringing together pet industry manufacturers and independent East Coast retailers for the purpose of discussing their successes, opportunities and challenges in the market.

The Retailer Forum was the third hosted by Pet Age which previously held similar events in Beverly Hills and Chicago.

Moderated by Erin Terjesen of Propel Communications, the participating businesses sought to strengthen relationships and build a greater knowledge base to take back to their employees.

It's a great way to have a conversation between other independent retailers and manufacturers," said Holly Levis of PetPort in Long Island. "If everybody understands everybody else's needs and expectations, I think it makes us all stronger and therefore more profitable."

The event was sponsored by Healthy Pet, Loving Pets, Evanger's Dog and Cat Food, EQyss and Scarlett.

"I think to really spend quality time with retailers," Susan Parker, general manager of Scarlett.



Participants fielded questions ranging from the amount of time they devote to deciding what products to stock for their customers to what resources they use to learn more about the products they sell.

Trade shows, manufacturers' representatives, sales sheets and magazines were among the most popular places that retailers reported doing research about their products. According to some store owners, consumers now have so much information of their own that they feel like it can be a challenge to keep up with customer product knowledge.

Many store owners said that manufacturers' representatives need to be better informed in order to more concisely and accurately explain about how to sell their products, profit margins and the material background of the items. Several requested more point of sale promo materials from the manufacturers, such as shelf toppers and fliers, to better advertise products.

Webinars and educational tutorial videos produced by manufacturers were a hot topic among the attendees, with many retailers suggesting that such content would be a useful resource for store employees as they expand their knowledge of pet products and how to sell them.

"A big take away for me was to partner a little better with my manufacturers, because they'll support the retailers that support them." said Jeff Morton of New Jersey's Sake a Paw pet stores.

Numerous retailers also said that samples, not visits from representatives, are the really key to finding out if a product will sell at their store or not. By distributing samples, retailers can use their clients as a tool for testing out new items in the real world.

"Manufacturers really want to work with us, they want to help us," said Levis. "They want to educate our staff and come in and give us samples. They want to help us sell their products, and they're not always exactly sure how to do that, but I think that today we bridged that gap a little bit."