Retail revolution: How to thrive (not just survive) in veterinary practice retail

March 13, 2019
Anissa Fritz, contributing writer

We picked Dr. Marty Beckers brain on the presence and prevalence of retail in veterinary practices. Check out his tips of the retail trade.

(Nejron Photo/stock.adobe.com)

dvm360: Do you think veterinarians should be utilizing retail in their practice or do you advise against it because of the internet?

Dr. Marty Becker:

You're always going to do retail. But with the advance of the internet, you're no longer an island as far as price. Before, your Zip code was your island and you just had to be competitive within the bigger chain of islands around you. Now the internet is the leveler. Clients can compare prices and it's more convenient to buy online than it is to get in the car and drive down to purchase an item.

People like experiences. Watch Shark Tank and listen to Mark Cuban. He loves to invest in things that are part of the experience economy. You can't go to a restaurant online. You can't go to a movie premiere online. You can't go to a music festival online. So if you do it right in a veterinary hospital, you not only create an environment that becomes an experience, you create a positive memory. And if you create a positive memory, that's the most powerful thing you can do.

So if you do it right in a veterinary hospital, you not only create an environment that becomes an experience, you create a positive memory. And if you create a positive memory, that's the most powerful thing you can do.

dvm360: How do you make sure retail adds to the client experience?

Dr. Becker:

First, you want the best products in each category. You want to stick with stuff that known experts in the field are recommending that's best in class.

Next, you have to be in the right price range. Even though there's price elasticity in the experience economy, you can't be way out of line. If your product is $10 on Amazon and you're charging $30, that's going to kill you, because people will assume that everything you have is overpriced. You have to identify the commodity item and price it competitively. Once you've done that, you can explore the upper limits of pricing other stuff.

The other thing you want to do is bundle items together in a package. This shows your expertise. If a patient has a noise phobia, things that could help would be pheromones, a compression garment and quite possibly a nutraceutical or a pharmaceutical like Sileo. To bundle these products you should say something like, "Maybe start out with the compression jacket. If we don't see enough of an effect the next step would be a nutraceutical. If that doesn't work then we can go to Sileo." Once you start stacking these things it's like you're a repairman with a plan. 

Dr. Becker's top tips for displaying retail that you can try today

Strategic placement: You always want to put the largest-size products on the righthand side if it's a self-service one. This is because most people are right handed, so they'll reach for the larger size.

Eye level is the buy level: Whatever is at eye level is what people are most likely to buy. That's why rice is on the lower shelves at the grocery store-you go in for rice, but a seasoning or something of high profit is going to be at eye level. 

Upkeep: Be stocked and organized. Dust means that stuff never sells. There's a lot of dust and hair in veterinary hospitals, so it has to be clean and well-lit. 

dvm360: What would you say to veterinarians or practice owners who don't want to do retail?

Dr. Becker: 

It may be a small part of your business or a large part. But you have an obligation to make sure that people know what the best products are and where to get them, whether you sell them or not. But if you create a positive memory and if you solve a problem, the third thing you're doing is keeping people in the buying pattern.

We have to fight to be the true pet health experts, and part of that is having the products and services that solve problems and provide clients positive memories. If you do that, you're going to thrive and not just survive.