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Candace D'Agnolo

3 Ways to Shake Up Your Inventory to Better Manage Pet Supply Issues

Pet Boss Nation’s Candace D’Agnolo offers advice on how to keep shelves stocked and money coming into your pet store.

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AS A RETAILER, I focused heavily on inventory planning, sourcing and product mix. It was an important piece of getting through the 2008 recession, and it positioned us for growth after and allowed me to sell my business at a profit in early 2020. Along with the potential for yet another recession, today’s store owners are dealing with supply chain issues, increasing manufacturer acquisitions, favorite brands going into big box and even technical difficulties at the distributor level. With so many outside factors impacting your success, I encourage you to focus on what you can control … and that’s what you choose to sell.

No matter what’s happening behind the scenes of the products you carry, you have the final say on what ends up on your shelves. A retailer makes money by turning inventory quickly and improving cash flow. The faster you turn, while maintaining a healthy margin, the more you’ll make. If your shelves are bare and there’s nothing to sell, that’s when you’ll get into financial trouble. I emphasize this point because I’m seeing empty shelves at many stores.

As we head toward a potential recession, I urge you to be aggressive in filling the void left by supply chain disruptions. Finding a balance between value-priced and high-quality items will be more important than ever over the next year.

Sourcing issues are actually a good thing. They tell you that you may be too comfortable with ordering products just from distributors (or heck, maybe only from one or two distributors).

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They tell you that you may put too much faith in one brand. Sourcing challenges actually ignite creativity about the products you carry. In times like these, you may just find your next big inventory hit to help you stand out from the competition. Now is the time to test and try new things.

Part of retail success means never being complacent with your existing products or vendors. With that in mind, here are three ways to “think different” when it comes to your inventory:

1. Become intrigued by sourcing. Go straight to the wholesaler … or even more interesting is if you can find the supplier selling to the wholesaler. Work with local makers or start making things yourself. Comb through trade publications, but also visit manufacturer websites, as you will discover products not featured in the magazines. Online marketplaces and reps like Faire, Wholesale Pet, Pet Palette, Go to Rover, Packer Mellem and even Alibaba are great for discovering products. Participate in Facebook groups and forums where vendors share their wares.

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2. Change up your categories by adding or expanding. If one category is thin or completely out of stock and you can’t find brand replacements, consider adding an entirely new category to your assortment. For example, if the chew bins are looking bare, downsize that area and bring in a bulk biscuit bar. Or expand an existing category temporarily. So if you’re low on canned dog food, add more of a hot seller like freeze-dried product. Fill that shelving space with what you can!

3. Go “wider” and perhaps “deeper” within an easy-to-stock brand. Have a brand you love with a large catalog? Order “wide” by bringing in a variety of their items that you don’t normally carry. Or go “deep” by getting more of the best-selling stuff and suggesting it to everyone, to convert shoppers to try these brands.

Now is not the time to cross your fingers and hope for the best. Get out there and start bringing great new products into your store!

Candace D’Agnolo has started, scaled and sold three pet businesses and now mentors thousands of independent pet business owners through her business coaching company, Pet Boss Nation. Her podcast “Boss Your Business” quickly ranked in the top 3% of all podcasts globally! Tune in, and get more tips and resources like this article at PetBoss.com

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