No longer an afterthought: Making your veterinary practices retail area shine

February 25, 2019
Erin E. Rand, contributing writer

Dont let those valuable products gather dustadopt these habits for a top notch practice retail area.

(nazarovsergey / stock.adobe.com)Take a hard look at the retail area of your veterinary clinic. If products are coated in a thin layer of dust or have stickers showing they're past their expiration date, you've got problems. Kelly Capasso, practice manager at Bigger Road Veterinary Clinic in Springboro, Ohio-and a serious retail space pro-offers up practical tips to keep that space lively and inviting.

First up: Make smart stocking decisions

Deciding which items to carry are driven by three things: what doctors and team members are recommending to the clients, what supports the clinic's services, and what can be easily ordered that justifies its presence on the shelf. “Sometimes that third one is the trickiest,” Capasso says. “Retail distribution can be a real moving target!”

Treats, toys and training aids tend to be consistent best-sellers for the clinic, while cat products and grooming aids like shampoos have a more disappointing outcome. “We don't do well with products that are easily purchased at major retailers,” Capasso says. ‘I think clients are already in the habit of picking those things up elsewhere. We don't try to compete with that.”

Looks matter: Keeping things clean and bright

Like many practice setups, Bigger Road's retail space is located in the lobby, so things can get hairy (literally) quite fast. Capasso tasks client service team members to keep the space neat, and to stock and rearrange the inventory as items arrive.

“We try to group things by species and function,” Capasso says. “After that, we rotate displays based on the season, or to introduce a new product.” She adds you shouldn't be afraid to get creative with the displays, and not to view it like stocking pharmacy or food shelves. A little bit of flair can go a long way in creating a warm and inviting space.

Troubleshooting: Reduce shrinkage and stay organized

Every once in a while, a client might have a case of sticky fingers. “To reduce the temptation of theft for pricier items we often only display the empty box,” Capasso says.  

To make sure that your products aren't spoiling on the shelves, keep an eye on expiration dates and reduce prices of items that are close to that date.

Capasso also wholeheartedly endorses using barcodes to stay organized. “You can get a barcode scanner for less than $25,” she says. “Most practice management systems can utilize barcodes. This was how we fixed invoicing entry errors and frustration trying to search for product descriptions.”

Lasting effort: Team training

It might be easy to assume the flea medicine you have for sale doesn't need any explanation, but Capasso cautions, “If you've selected them for a reason, the team should know why.” Bigger Road uses staff meetings to go over new items and product stocking decisions. Pick one or two items per meeting, and discuss why it was selected. This is a great opportunity to partner with local sales reps to provide training on their products for the entire team.

Chances are, your retail space just isn't at the top of your list of clinic concerns. There's so much going on-how can you possibly make time? But there's no sense in having a retail area that's neglected. By taking Capasso's advice and making your retail a priority, you're directly affecting the practice's bottom line.