New technology makes investing in pet ID products easier, more affordable and smarter than ever before.
It’s every owner’s worst nightmare: a missing pet. Unfortunately, it can also be a reality for many pet parents; 15 percent of owners reported their cats and dogs missing over the course of five years according a study from the ASPCA. Luckily, 85 percent of those pets were recovered thanks to products and tools like ID tags.
Since identification products are a must-have item for every dog and cat owner, it seems like a no-brainer for retailers to invest in the category. However, the market has changed considerably in recent years, so it’s important for retailers to stay up-to-date on the latest offerings and trends.
One of the biggest changes to ID products is the use of technology to help bring pets home. “There is nothing more effective than a simple personalized ID tag in helping reunite lost pets with the parents, but technology is working its way into the industry,” explains Tom Glessner, director of engraving and personalization products at The Hillman Group. “GPS and near-field platforms for pet identification are offered in the market today with minimal success, but as costs lessen and effectiveness increases, the benefits of those products will certainly increase their demand.”
In-store engraving machines have made high-quality, personalized pet ID tags more accessible to both retailers and consumers. Previously, this kind of technology was only available to big-box stores, but thanks to more affordable technology, independent retailers can get in on the action.
The Hillman Group, for instance, offers a variety of engraving programs, including the Quick-Tag, a fully automated standalone pet ID tag vending kiosk perfect for large retailers. For smaller stores and boutiques, the company also has the PetScribe, a self-contained tabletop machine.
New technology has also made ID tags more durable than ever before, which means owners can rest assured that their pet’s tag keeps up with their active lifestyle. The VIP Dragon, the latest computerized engraving machine by VIP Engravers, “was designed using the latest solid state technology ensuring store owners rugged long-lasting reliability,” explains Managing Partner Gregg Newman.
According to Newman, engraving machines are a smart investment for retailers because they provide a high profit per square inch. “[Tags are] a high impulse purchase. [The machine] helps draw the tags to the attention of the customer,” he adds.
Another way technology has impacted pet ID products is with the integration of GPS tracking and other alert systems. These items use the power of modern technology to help reunite lost pets with owners—faster.
“The traditional pet tag still serves its role, but we wanted something that would go a step further and capitalize on today’s technology. People are rarely without their mobile devices so it made sense to tap into that to bring pets and their owners back together,” says Melissa Pedraza, general manager for Platinum Pets, creator of the Pawsitively Safe lost pet finder system.
Each Pawsitively Safe tag comes with a unique code, which pet parents can use to create an online profile with pictures, addresses and phone numbers. If a pet wanders off, owners can activate the lost pet report, which generates a lost pet poster that can be printed off or shared online. Once the animal is found, the owner is alerted by text and email with a map showing the pet’s location. For an extra layer of security, owners can upgrade to Platinum Protection.
“This service alerts veterinarians and shelters within a 10-mile radius of where a pet is reported missing. The nationwide protection is especially useful for people who travel with their pets,” explains Pedraza.
Technology has also brought new materials and designs to the pet ID category, giving pet parents more options. While safety and functionality may be some of the biggest concerns in the category, that doesn’t mean owners can’t also have a product that’s fashionable.
“Over the last 10 years, the No. 2 driver of tag sales has been fashion. Red Dingo pioneered and led the introduction of fashion into the industry over a decade ago with the first, and still only, 100 percent stainless steel decorative enamel designer tags,” says Eric Bremner, CEO of Red Dingo, Inc. Stainless steel is an ideal material for pet tags because it is long-lasting, can stand up to wear and is non-toxic.
The company offers tags in a wide variety of designs including American flags, soccer balls, dog bones and fire hydrants. Three years ago, Red Dingo also introduced glitter tags and polished stainless steel tags with embedded Swarovski Zirconia crystals.
While tags are a must-have pet item, that doesn’t mean retailers can put in zero effort when it comes to marketing. Placement is particularly crucial for capturing impulse buys and add-on sales.
“Displays should be kept in a prominent location near the front of the store so that customers who are suggestively sold or remember that their phone number changed can grab one easily,” says Glessner.
Front-of-store and register displays are an ideal location because they allow for easy conversation between customers and salespeople. Well-educated staff can then simply ask shoppers if their tag is current and legible to remind owners of the importance of an up-to-date ID tag.
“We have stores with similar customer traffic that outsell other stores 10-to-1. This is because the tag board is in a good location on the counter and the staff is trained to ask the customer if they have checked their ID tag lately,” explains Bremner. “This kind of active customer interaction will make an enormous difference, and it all comes down to staff training.”
ID tags also easily lend themselves to cross-promotions with other products, such as collars and leashes. Bremner suggests offering a combination discount on a package purchase of these three items to encourage sales.
“[Customers] know that a beautiful new tag looks even better with a beautiful new collar,” he adds.
While it’s easy to become complacent with a standard category like pet ID products, industry experts urge retailers to stay on top of the latest trends and technologies available. This will ensure that the pet store is always offering their customers the best possible merchandise.
“The advancement of technology along with customer needs and wants will continue to force this category to evolve,” says Pedraza. “We intend to keep pace by monitoring both of those areas to make sure we’re giving our retail partners a product that lets pet owners enjoy the colorful life of their companions.”