People think of the pet store market as primarily Petco and PetSmart and then a large number of small stores, but pet products are actually sold in many other locations including convenience stores, big box retailers like Wal-Mart and Target, and even grocery stores. So the market is wide open, and the interest in pet products is sky high as people are spending more and more money on pet accessories. So now is a great time to proceed with a pet product.
I always like to recommend that people start their marketing and sales program early, even before a product is completely developed, by subscribing to the industry trade magazines. These magazines tell you about the industry, often give you names of key buyers, distributors and manufacturers reps, and provide an outlet for your new product announcements when your product is ready to sell. The pet market has three strong trade magazines:
When you start reading trade magazines be sure to look closely in the new product announcement sections for pet businesses near where you live. You might be able to make some contacts at that business just by showing up and talking to the marketing and sales people. Send away for literature on products in your category as you might get letters from manufacturer reps in your area who could later turn into key contacts.
The industry also has a major trade show, the Global Pet Expo, held this year from February 29th to March 2nd at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando Florida. The show is a great place to meet possible buyers from all the major companies and many buyers of smaller stores. If you are not quite ready to exhibit it is still a great show to attend, just tell the show you are planning on introducing a product the next year and that you would like to attend the show to see what it is like.
Pet products are often sold through distributors and there is an active distributor association: the Pet Industry Distributor Association, www.pida.org. Their site also includes a list of all the distributor members at http://www.pida.org/memberdirectory/index.cfm#product.
This is an excellent site with a great deal of information about the industry and it has many useful links. You can sell directly to the distributors or sell to distributors through manufacturers’ representatives.
Manufacturers Sales Representatives
There are a large group of manufactures’ sales representatives that sell pet products. Often the reps concentrate one market, such as convenience stores or Petco and PetSmart so you can end up with a large network of representatives to sell your product. The best way to find sales reps is to attend a trade show. If you don’t have a booth, you can still meet reps by talking to people at tables in the snack area, and by going to small booths and asking who the sales reps are for your geographic area. If you can find one or two reps in your area to support you, often they will help you set up a strong rep network.
If you can’t get to a show, the best way to find reps is to get subscriptions to the trade magazines and send away for literature from every product remotely connected to yours. When you receive literature, often it will contain the names of local reps. Contact the reps and arrange to meet him for lunch or a late afternoon coffee or drink and then see if he will represent you.
If those two approaches don’t work you can also buy a sales rep list from One Stop Invention Shop by going to the site http://onestopinventionshop.net/books/sales-reps/ and purchasing a list on pet market sales reps for $24.99.
Selling to Petco or Petsmart
Often your best bet on selling to these companies is to use a manufacturers’ representative that has purchasing contacts. But you can approach either company on your own too.
Contact the Petco corporate offices by letter: Petco Animal Supplies, Inc., 9125 Rehco Rd., San Diego, CA 92121; or by fax: (858) 784-3489. The company’s main phone number is (877) 738-6742.
Petco also has a web site where inventors can submit their idea,
https://partners.petco.com/cs/vportal/custom/not_doing_business.htm explains how to submit and idea and the web page http://petco.mysourcingcenter.com is the page you go to when you are ready to submit your idea.
Petsmart is a little more difficult to get into. You can try mailing a sample to the company headquarters: Petsmart, 9601 N. 27th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85027 Phone: (623) 580-6100. I found you have a better approach by locating a Petsmart buyer on LinkedIn and then sending information through an email or mail to the buyers, who are mostly located at the companies Phoenix headquarters. These two pages will help you find a buyer: www.linkedin.com/title/associate+buyer/at-petsmart/ and www.linkedin.com/title/buyer/at-petsmart/. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account you will need to set one up.