You put the time into researching various vendors and carefully selected new lines of dog treats, dog toys, and grooming supplies to bring into your store. You wrote a perfectly crafted email blast and promoted the new products on social media, inviting customers in to your shop. You meticulously merchandised all of the new products on an endcap that gets a lot of foot traffic and printed flashy signs to draw your customer’s attention. Now what’s left?
Don’t forget perhaps your most important resource when it comes to selling the products on your shelves: your employees on the sales floor! The employees who regularly interact with customers need to be educated on most, if not all of the products that you sell. When your employees are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about what they’re selling, their enthusiasm builds a level of trust with the customer and they will be more likely to follow suggestions or take recommendations on new products to try.
There are a couple of approaches you can take when it comes to training your pet store team on new products:
- Ask the manufacturer to send any educational materials they have (such as literature or videos) and share them with your team.
- Ask your sales reps to pay your store a visit and conduct a training session for your team.
- Put together a quick training program yourself and hold a team meeting to get everyone up to speed.
When bringing in a new product, there are 4 important things that all of your employees should learn:
1. Identifying customer pain points
A pain point is a problem that your customer is experiencing that your business is in a position to potentially solve. Some common pain points that you may hear from your customers may stem from dog behavior: “My dog is chewing everything in my house,” “my dog’s skin gets irritated when I give them a bath,” “my dog’s current food is giving them loose stools,” “my dog drags me down the street when I take them on a walk,” and so on.
2. How a product can solve a problem
Products are developed in order to solve a problem. Just think of any problem and there’s probably a product out there that provides a solution. Carefully think about your customer’s problem and figure out if there’s a product in your store that could offer a solution.
For example, the dog who is chewing everything in the house is bored and needs an outlet. Give them a bully stick to chew on instead! The dog with sensitive skin? You probably have a grooming product in your shop that was specifically formulated for those types of dogs. The dog with loose stools? Educate your customer on the benefits and effects of a good probiotic/prebiotic supplement, or show them different brands of foods that were developed for dogs with sensitive stomachs. The crazy dog that doesn’t know how to walk on a leash? Show your customer the different varieties of no-pull harnesses and demonstrate how each one works.
3. Anything that differentiates that product from others on the market
The market can sometimes be supersaturated with many variations of a very similar product. You and your employees need to be able to articulate to your customers what makes the product in your hand different from the other products on the shelf or your competitor’s shelves. Your customer will then be able to think about the pros and cons of the different products you are showing them and make an informed decision based on the information that you tell them.
As an example, that bully stick that you recommended to your customer? You may want to tell them that the majority of bully sticks on the market are pretty smelly, but the one in their hands is an odor free bully stick. That dog shampoo for sensitive skin? Your customer may be interested in knowing that it’s free from unnatural fragrances, sulfates, and parabens (which have been linked to allergic reactions in dogs). That probiotic you recommended? Explain to your customer that actual clinical trials were conducted that demonstrated that the product works as advertised. The no-pull harness that you’re fitting on your customer’s dogs? Let them know that most no-pull harnesses work by restricting the dog’s movement and pinching their shoulders together, but the one that their dog is wearing won’t chafe and allows for freedom of movement.
4. Any other benefits of the product
Your customer will feel good about picking a product for their dog that is beneficial for either their health or well being. Let your customer know if there are any additional benefits to using the product that you’re recommending. They will appreciate that you are trying to find a real solution for them, rather than just trying to sell something to them.
Continuing on the previous examples: Let your customer know that letting your dog work on a long lasting chew is good for their mental wellbeing. The act of chewing is calming and releases those feel-good hormones — most dogs will curl up and take a nap after finishing off a bully stick!
For the dog with sensitive skin, talk to your customer about working with a veterinarian to come up with an appropriate bathing schedule for that individual dog — explain that when you give a dog a bath, it’ll remove loose hair, scale, and debris, reduce the bacterial load on their skin, and provide some relief for the irritation and inflammation.
When talking about probiotics/prebiotics to your customer, inform your customer that when they start seeing smaller stools in their dog, it means that their body is doing a better job at absorbing the nutrients in their food.
As you’re explaining the different pros and cons of various harnesses, mention to your customer that, once their dog learns how to walk nicely in this harness, they’ll probably be much more likely to take their dog to explore new and different places, since it won’t be so much of a hassle trying to keep the dog under control - which is a win-win for both human and dog!
Educating Your Pet Store Team on New Pet Products
While it may take some time and effort to ensure that all of your employees are fully trained and educated, the benefits of education your staff about new pet products are immense. Regularly providing training for your employees will improve engagement and motivation — you will likely find that you'll encourage more impulse buys in your pet store and your average sales will increase!
Your customers will also appreciate the excellent service that they’ll receive upon visiting your shop and interacting with your employees, and they’ll be more likely to recommend your business to family and friends.