Puzzling over veterinary retail?

October 27, 2017

If you're thinking of adding retail services to your veterinary clinic, perhaps looking at the pros and the cons (and what other clinics are doing) will help you piece together a verdict.

(Shutterstock.com)The good

You get to demonstrate to clients exactly what you're recommending with pet products, even if they don't buy it from you, says Kelly Capasso, practice manager at Bigger Road Veterinary Clinic with locations in Springboro and Kettering, Ohio.

Playing with products

Capasso's own twist on showcasing products in veterinary practice involves a bit of play.

“We love putting our favorite items in the exam rooms for pets to play with and interact with during exams,” she says. “It keeps them occupied and happy and lets owners see how they work and how much their pets like them.”

“This helps ensure your clients don't take the advice of friendly neighborhood pet store employees who say their store's product is ‘basically the same' as your veterinary-specific food/treat/toy/equipment recommendation,” Capasso says.

Another upside? Retail can support your service areas.

“Services like grooming, training and rehabilitation are perfect partners to retail items,” Capasso says. “Convenience is a driver and compliance is the reward when providing clients the option to take recommended retail items with them.”

The bad

Because retail products typically carry a far lower margin than medical products and services, these pet items won't be your clinic's moneymaker.

“Shrinkage, expiration and damaged products can really cut into the bottom line, so you'll need someone to babysit the area and limit these potential issues as you go,” Capasso says.

And then there's the impact of the clinic's location. Depending on the size and space your clinic has to offer, retail could be harder for you.

“Many retail items are seasonal or are rotated to keep things fresh and inviting to clients,” Capasso says. “You'll need to not only have space to showcase your retail items, but also storage space for the overstock and seasonal products.”

The verdict

In Capasso's professional opinion, the good news heavily outweighs the bad. Why? You can make it your own, just how you like it.

“Only want to carry food and treats?” Capasso asks. “Cool. Puzzle toys and enrichment items as well? Great. Want to go all in and carry Hawaiian shirts in the summer, Halloween costumes in the fall and puffy coats during the winter months? Awesome. Buy more of what sells and discontinue poor movers.”


Still unsure where you land? Go to the next page to see data from the dvm360 Clinical Updates: Pet Enrichment Survey to see how many of your peers sell pet enrichment products.


If you decide to offer retail, the favorite items above are a great place to start! You can also search tons of products at marketplace.dvm360.com. (Shutterstock.com)