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How Pet Retailers Will Stay Competitive in the New Year

The new year is under way, and with it brings exciting possibilities and opportunities for local pet retailers.

Though online giants like Amazon and Chewy continue to loom large, posting staggering growth, independent pet retailers are still an invaluable resource to pet owners.

Let’s take a look at how independent pet retailers can stay both relevant and competitive in the emerging decade.

Online Giants Can’t Deliver on Specialty Pet Products

In last month’s blog, we took a look at the increasing demand for specialty raw, fresh, and frozen pet foods. This is great news for independent pet stores already offering these types of products, and those looking to expand upon their existing inventory. Though they’re not going anywhere anytime soon, Amazon and Chewy simply can’t keep up with the demand for specialty pet products.

In the coming year, pet parents will continue to seek out local pet stores for specialty pet products. But don’t rest on your laurels.

Now is the time to step your game up and be on the lookout for other ways in which you can stay competitive. Keep giving your customers a reason to come back. Host an event, continue to showcase new products, start an exciting new blog. Try to get into the mindset of your target audience.

If you’re not already offering shipping and delivery, as well as in-store pickup, now is the time. Pet parents expect these types of conveniences from the online giants; don’t give them any reason to veer away from your retail shop by not offering the same perks. Make it easy for them to choose you.

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Local Pet Stores Are Key in Building New Brands

With the pet industry experiencing continuous growth, new industry brands are emerging, hoping to make their mark.

Small pet stores have the opportunity to act as a stepping stone for new brands. Online operations don’t have the same ability to incubate brands as local retailers. In fact, many industry trends, such as super-premium pet foods, begin at the local level. Without independent pet stores, most specialty products wouldn’t get off the ground.

As local retailers, you can leverage your unique position with new brands. Keep these points in mind when forming partnerships:

  • Be choosy about who you work with.
  • Plan your strategy. Stick to it.
  • Leave emotion out of it.
  • Don’t choose brands that you aren’t invested in.
  • Work with the brands that are keen on partnering with you, and who will go that extra mile when they do.
  • Partner with brands that are willing to work with you to build their brand. You should have a shared goal of driving sales, which will benefit both of you.
  • Know your role, and lean into it.

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Demand Is on the Rise for Local, Non-Medical Pet Care Services

Busy pet parents want the best in non-medical care for their furry friends, and that means going local. From boarding and grooming to pet sitting and walking, pet owners are more likely to seek out the services of local retailers. Retailers who have established a strong rapport with their community have a great opportunity to grow business in this area.

Large pet chains like PetSmart and Petco tend to not have the same type of personal rapport with pet owners as local retailers do, making this a perfect area to capture some of the market share.

Create an Unforgettable Experience for Pet Owners

The online giants may be able to deliver on fast turnaround, but nobody walks away from an online purchase feeling like they had a memorable or meaningful experience.

As an independent retailer, you are uniquely positioned to offer pet parents a personalized, caring, and human connection that the online giants simply can’t provide.

Give local pet parents an experience to keep them coming back. Ramp up your involvement in the community. Here are a few ways you can position yourself as a leader in the local pet industry:

  • Host community events.
  • Bring in local retailers to showcase products. This will help to establish you as a resource for the latest trends they can’t get elsewhere.
  • Host a pet adoption event. This is a great opportunity to bring in new and repeat customers.

Building community and trust will go a long way to help you stay competitive in the digital age. As local pet retailers, you have the edge in providing the human connection that pet parents continue to seek.

For more ideas on staying competitive in 2020, download our eBook: Meeting the Needs of the Pet Parent.

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