Let’s start from anthropology. There’s an ancestral reason, almost an instinct, for which all human beings wish to leave a sign in their existence.
Graffiti discovered by archaeologists are indeed a proof of this need, relating us to our ancestors. Graffiti are mainly engravings, often on metal or stone. Prehistory men communicated to their contemporaries and their descendants with these customized engravings.
Starting from this theory (that it’s important for all of us to leave a sign), and taking it for valid (except detractors), we can understand how customization industry has found a fruitful field for development.
Many companies have grown around customized objects and gadgets in any material, shape and purpose and this reaffirms the importance of the market arising following a real need.
Our company, specialized in the customization of tags for dogs and cats – in particular – and in key rings and pendants – in general – is a further confirmation.
Moving the customization issue to the Pet world, you certainly wonder: “How can I take advantage of this matter of fact?”. The answer is customizing by any means and all that you can.
You can work on customization at least on three desired fronts:
A trend seeming to associate many retailers (according to a survey by ZooMark and Assalco), which started a few years ago and has been recently confirmed, is the trend to concentrate on accessories to the detriment of animal feeds. In this sense, you are obliged to make some choices in the catalogue of the goods displayed. According to our opinion, the best choices should reward the products with a greater depth of catalogue, more than width. In other words: it’s better to have fewer products with many variations than many products with few variations. With a very deep catalogue the customer can easily find what he prefers (the colour which suits his doggie, matching his new coat, etc.). The catalogue depth, which seems a “replacement” of customization, should be approached to the world of customization in the sale point.
In the case of our customers, for instance, we have verified that the immediate customization of the dog tag increases the number of sales very much, if compared with the postponed customization following an order got from the retailer. The possibility to offer an accessory which can be immediately customized encourages sales and customer loyalty. If possible, choose the products which lead you to this benefit, when available. Have the possibility to offer an accessory to be customized.
Services (in particular dog sitting and toelet) seem to represent a trend among your colleagues retailers. Services customization is both pleasure and pain. It’s really easy to customize a service, if it is carried out at a low customer extent. If the users of a customized service grow – as home delivery – it’s important to keep profit (profit = price paid by the customer – cost for the service). Services should also be arranged, considering the target customer they concern. Does a service of “food consultation” to a customer buying his fourth pet make sense? And which working range shall a home service have? All these considerations should be evaluated before making the service available to customers.
Good barmen generally remember their usual customers’ favourite drink. We notice it in Italy when at the coffee shop counter, waiting for our espresso, we hear the barman greeting Mr. Rossi and asking, “As usual?” The barman is customizing his customer’s “buying experience”. Companies usually use special softwares (named CRM Customer Relationship Management), which become as much important, as the number of customers grow. Many CRM are available online, even free of charge. CRM allows you to customize your customer’s buying experience, taking note of his hairy friend’s name, his food preferences and the date of his last visit in the shop.
If you organize data precisely, you can also extract groups of customers and find out those who are to be developed or those on whom a focused activity shall be carried out. You can get information from your customers in many ways. The most popular in these last years is the fidelity card, but you can find out many others more, if you think about it.
Customization is a subject which should involve anyone who works with the end user. Products customization moves from the selection of suppliers, who have best understood this “use habit”. The supply of customized services shall be carefully evaluated in order to avoid them to become a boomerang (from a business point of view).
Customization allow the customer to leave a sign, making him unique and permitting him to express satisfactorily his distinctiveness.