We recently sat down with our Merchandising Manager, Eric, to learn all about the Endless Aisles catalog and the value it holds. He gave us some tips and tricks for making the most of the catalog, insights on upcoming product trends, and explained the strategy behind it all. Keep reading to learn all about the Endless Aisles catalog!
Endless Aisles: Hi Eric! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today! We’re excited to learn all about the Endless Aisles Catalog. Can you tell us a little bit about your role as the Merchandising Manager at Endless Aisles (EA)?
Eric: Hey! As the Merchandising Manager at EA, I oversee and report on many aspects of our assortment. This includes purchasing, inventory management, new product approval, and catalog rationalization.
Endless Aisles: Wow! It sounds like you are responsible for a lot. How can the catalog help retailers make the most of their Endless Aisles experience?
Eric: The EA catalog has so many products, and allows retailers to expand their existing assortment. It gives them insights into what they should stock on their shelves based on product trends pulled from previous EA orders. It also helps them prevent in-store inventory issues by providing an additional channel to service their customers. A major benefit of the EA catalog is that retailers don’t have to deal with the headaches or cost of large scale warehousing and shipping, but they can still offer the convenience of home delivery to their customers.
“Product research and data entry isn’t the best use of time for a busy retailer, so we wanted to take that pain-point away.”
Endless Aisles: It seems like this is a game changer for retailers. What do you think is the most valuable thing about the EA catalog?
Eric: I think the most valuable aspect is that there is no inventory risk for retailers. They don’t have to invest capital into inventory that they might not sell. This allows them to invest in other parts of their business, like marketing. They also get access to all of the product information and metadata in the EA catalog, which took us years to build. Product research and data entry isn’t the best use of time for a busy retailer, so we wanted to take that pain-point away.
Endless Aisles: It’s amazing that EA offers retailers such a large catalog full of metadata, without any inventory risk. What is a feature in the catalog that retailers might not already know about?
Eric: Real-time inventory. This allows retailers to know exactly what products and quantities are available to purchase. This significantly reduces the chances of a customer placing an order, and EA running out of inventory before the order is picked. No one likes a disappointed customer, so we try to give the retailers as much information as possible. This way, they can confidently service their customers.
Endless Aisles: What product trends are you anticipating will be popular this Fall and upcoming holiday season?
Eric: The Fall and holiday season is an exciting time in merchandising because so many new products are launched. The pet food industry always mirrors the human food industry. Ancient grains like quinoa is a big pet food trend, which was influenced by the human food trend. Freeze-dried is also a big trend right now, as customers are interested in high quality, human grade food for their pets.
Of course, there will be many seasonal and holiday themed toys and treats. Some examples are popular “holiday dinners” for pets. Blue Buffalo has their Turkey Day Feasts, Merrick has their Holiday Stew – it’s definitely a popular time for seasonal products like these.
Endless Aisles: It’s so interesting to see how the pet food industry follows human food trends! How do you typically go about looking for new products?
Eric: A lot of this comes from listening to retailer feedback and requests. We want to make sure that we carry what our retailers and their customers are looking for. We also attend industry shows and follow market trends very closely.
Endless Aisles: How does the assortment strategy for the EA catalog differ from the assortment strategy for a brick and mortar?
Eric: Customers typically go to brick and mortars for discovery and education. E-commerce is less about discovery, and more about convenience and replenishment. This means our assortment is skewed towards bigger bags, cases of cans, and higher quantities. Variety packs are also highly valued since we typically don’t ship a single can. E-commerce also focuses more on higher margin items that help cover warehouse operating and shipping expenses.
Endless Aisles: It’s interesting to see how they differ, and it makes a lot of sense.What other categories do you look at aside from food and treats, and how does that assortment strategy differ?
Eric: We have thirteen categories on EA, so we’re constantly looking at categories outside of consumables. We try to offer anything customers could possibly need for their dog or cat. Non-food and treat items work much better as impulse purchases, and are usually lower in price point, but higher in margin.
For example, food storage containers serve as a great add-on to a food purchase. The strategy differs for these because large containers do not fit into any of our shipping boxes, so they require a different packing and shipping process. These operational challenges certainly impact our decision when looking to bring in a new product or brand.
Endless Aisles: It’s obvious that there’s so much that goes into the process behind choosing products and brands to carry. Do you have any tips or tricks for retailers who are just starting to navigate the EA catalog?
Eric: Special Ordering makes it really easy for retailers to explore the EA catalog. Price control is also a great tool to drill down into the catalog and see the nitty-gritty details of a product. This allows retailers to filter based on MAP, wholesale changes, and new product additions – so it’s a great thing to check out if you’re curious about our expanding assortment!
Endless Aisles: This was so informative, and I think that our retailers will learn a lot from this interview! Thank you so much for speaking with me, Eric!
Eric: Awesome! Thank you!
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