Pet Retail

Putting the “Tail” in “Retail”: How Pet Retail is Evolving

by Jenna Sindle

On this week’s Retail Technology Insider roundup, the theme is one of our team’s personal favorites: pets! Pet retail is one of those rare corners of the retail world that is still largely powered by the brick-and-mortar model. Consumers like to come in, look at what their purchasing for their furry friends, be able to ask an actual human questions about preferences, etc. But that’s not stopping progress in the pet retail arena.

The stories featured this week look at both how ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailers are doubling down on their approaches in pet retail:

New Mexico Pet Retailer Looks Ahead to the Future of Retail Technology

In an effort to manage growth and meet existing superior customer service standards, Pet Pangea owner Cyndi Wells is working on bringing a client services robot into her store in Los Alamos, NM. “We live in an area with a relatively small labor pool,” explained Wells in an interview with Pet Product News. “Even when we offer a salary well above national average and benefits that include a 401(k) with employer matching and health insurance, staffing is challenging.”

This is one of the rare examples surfacing of how AI is helping small business scale and grow. The examples many retail technology experts cite are often large companies with massive budgets that are able to support robust AI adoption in their stores. But this is a unique example in that it combats the idea that AI adoption is only structured and beneficial to large retailers and actually fuels growth and scalability.

Not to mention the breadth of knowledge needed to provide guidance for pet shoppers – I know that when I am looking into something for my pets, the first place I visit is my favorite robot: Google. Having access to that knowledge in-store where the product they are examining is directly in front of them is invaluable for shoppers.

Read the whole story here.

Petco Debuts Brick-and-Mortar Pet Wellness Concept

This week, Petco brought its online-only veterinary-led PetCoach platform into the brick-and-mortar space. According to Daphne Howland at Retail Dive, the new location in San Marcos, CA “includes personalized pet services, products and experiences, ‘all designed through a veterinary lens,’ the company said.”

Given the extremely rapid growth in pet retail and spending, an approach like this one from Petco isn’t surprising. Pet owners want to be able to have a one-stop shop for all of their pet needs (beyond just food and chew toys), and with grooming, training, veterinary care, nutrition consultations, day care, self-wash, mobile vet house calls, and dog walking all available at PetCoach, it’s obvious that Petco is working hard to fill that role.

“With PetCoach, we’re reinventing the idea of a traditional ‘pet store’ by providing complete care experiences…” stated Petco CEO Ron Coughlin. This ties in nicely to the growing trend of experiential shopping and how it’s shaping the expectations of consumers.

Read the whole story here.

Amazon Makes Big Push with In-House Brands Ahead of Prime Day

Contradicting the understood importance of brick-and-mortar to retailers, ecommerce giant Amazon is making moves in pet retail. Preceding Prime Day this year, Amazon made a big push with more than 80 in-house brands in an effort to drive customer loyalty. According to an article by Lauren Thomas on CNBC, “‘…producing items that are exclusively available through Amazon will drive more traffic to the platform, which also benefits Amazon sellers by bringing more consumers in front of their products,’ One Click Retail marketing analyst Ojastro Todd said.”

Among those Amazon-owned brands is Wag, the company’s dog food brand. Having discussed the pool of highly engaged consumers in pet retail, it’s a strategic move on Amazon’s part to get a foot in the door there. Then, in true Amazon fashion, the use of data analytics will be the cherry on top of the targeting sundae.

“Key to Amazon’s success has been its ability to use the data it collects on other sellers to improve its brand rollouts,” reported Thomas. “The company has been more secretive about some label launches, targeting niche sectors of shoppers.” The mountains of data that Amazon controls are sure to drive strong results for their entrance into the pet retail space.

Read the whole story here.

Geofences: What They Are, What They Aren’t, and Why They’re Effective

As we’ve talked about earlier in this article, the importance of a solid brick-and-mortar strategy is imperative to the success of many pet retailers. And one of the most modern and powerful ways to engage with consumers in-store is through the use of push notifications informed by geofences.

In a recent article from Bryan Bonack at Pitney Bowes, he unpacks the term “geofence,” clears up some misunderstandings, and explains how they are crucial to the brick-and-mortar equation. Among the several benefits of geofencing, Bonack noted, “…a retailer can reach their audience when they are en route to a destination and influence where they spend their money.”

The ability to engage with motivated shoppers like those in pet stores is crucial to differentiating their shopping experience. With knowledge about store traffic and shopping habits, a truly memorable shopping experience is in the making for them.

Read the whole story here.