The holidays are here and that means everyone is on the lookout for just the right gifts for their loved ones. While friends and family are key, they're not the only ones receiving gifts this year; pets are too.
Getting customers to shop in your store during the holidays is an age-old concern that is common for all retailers, no matter what the industry. However, with the popularity for gifts for pets growing only in recent years, the pet industry is looking to find ways to stand out as a must-go stop during the holidays.
Whether you've been planning all year or you're scrambling to get things put together last minute, here's some ideas you can use to make your store the destination every pet owner must go to buy gifts for their little furries.
1. Stock gift-able pet products
While it might be common sense to some, it's still worth pointing out. The first step to attract holiday shoppers to your store is to make sure your store is full of items that can easily be wrapped up and given as a gift.
Most pets are happy with a bag of treats, but other gift-able items delight the pet parents and act as great add-ons to their regular dog food purchase. Matching pajamas have been trending on social media this year, and at the very least they'll put a smile on your customers' faces when they walk in and see them on display.
For some ideas on gift-able pet items, here's Fortune's holiday gift guide for pets from 2016.
2. Set up a photo booth
Whether your store has a small footprint or plenty of square footage to go around, a photo booth is not only fun, but it can take up as much or as little space as you need it to.
Don't have a lot of room? Put up a small holiday-themed backdrop on a wall with a stool in front. Have customers post with their pets and their photo taken with an employee's phone or digital camera. Then, text or email the photo to the customer with a coupon they must use that day.
Not only will this get the customer in store, but they're also more likely to buy something because a) you've made them smile, b) they get a free holiday keepsake of them and their pet, and c) they've got an incentive (coupon) to buy right then.
Plus, the photo will likely be posted on your customer's social media accounts, driving more attention to your store. Posting it on your own social media will gain higher engagement from your customers online and encourage them to come in to get their own photo taken!
3. Host an event or fundraiser
'Tis the season to be thankful for everything we've been blessed with. It's also a great time to give back to the community and support those in need. Not only is it great for the community and overall moral, but doing so can also be fun!
Host a fundraiser or event - even if it's online-only through social media - and get your customers excited about helping less fortunate pets and families in your community.
For example, Applaws Petfood started a Thanksgiving giveaway in 2016, giving $250,000 worth of cat food to charities nominated by their customers. This year, they're repeating the event and donating another $100,000 worth of pet food to more charities of their customers' choice. It has been one of their most successful events so far and has fed hundreds of pets around the country!
4. Host a Holiday Party
The holidays are a time of celebration; and what better way to celebrate than throwing a party? Create exclusive invitations to send to your best customers (and post an event on social media), use your store or rent out a community space, and encourage your customers and their pets to show up looking their best.
Not only will this bring your customers together in a fun way, but it'll also give them good memories of you and your store! Can't afford it? Reach out to your manufacturers and ask them to sponsor the event and promote their brands with posters or inclusion of logos on invitations. They might be willing to front the food and drinks, at the very least!
5. Get Social and Cute
The holidays, for many, are filled with happiness and joy. Do your part to facilitate that and bring an "awww" to people's lips when they read your social posts.
No one loves cute pet videos and photos more than pet owners, and sharing them on your pages will bring higher engagement and good feelings to your brand. Who doesn't love watching pet videos all day?
Add in the holiday feeling by posting content related to the 12 Days of Christmas (with your own twist) and add in some coupons to get people in the store!
6. Gift Baskets from Extra Inventory
Do you have a couple boxes of surplus inventory sitting around the back of the store that just won't sell? Get rid of it and put a smile on your customer's faces by making gift baskets and giving them away ever hour/day/week to a random customer in your store.
Include a handwritten card for a personal twist and possibly even a gift card to your store to give to their friends or keep for themselves. The gift baskets will delight the customer and may even encourage sales on the rest of the inventory you have on the shelves!
Do you have anything special that you like to do during the holidays to get customers in your store? Post it in the comments below!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Hoffmanis a freelance content marketer in the pet and design industries. Growing up in the pet industry, she has keen insight on market trends and a passion for helping small businesses grow. Her portfolio includes various topics from pet food trends to using technology and marketing strategies to boost pet business sales. When she's not writing articles or working her day job, she's playing with her two cats (Kitty and Chewbacca), reading a book, or hiking one of Washington's many trails.
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