Pet Industry: Should You Offer Home Delivery and What Technologies should you use?

Read Time: 4 minutes

I am very excited to finally being able to write something on Home Delivery.  If you have been following long enough, you know that we spent a lot of time talking about what has been labeled the “Retail Armageddon,” Amazon and Chewy, The 4th Industrial Revolution, Email Marketing, Cash Flow, Branding, and much more.  The purpose of all of it was so that in 2020 we could use that knowledge to appropriately adjust our business plans, conduct a SWOT Analysis, and plan our evolution.  As fate would have it, one of my colleagues just happened to write an article on goal setting last week as well, and it’s an amazing 4-minute read.  Click here to check it out.

Now onto Home Delivery.  After meeting with over 65 retailers last quarter alone, I realize that most have considered it, some have it already, and almost all of you would like more information on it.  So that being said, let’s dig into What does your typical Pet Store Home Delivery look like, what are some of its immediate and long term benefits, and what are some technologies you can utilize to be successful at it.

 Why do Home Delivery?

Rather than a long wordy explanation, I’m just going to list some stats for you.

  • 76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.
  • 56% of customers actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies (that is, those that consistently introduce new products and services based on customer needs and new technology).
  • 66% of customers say it takes more for a company to impress them with new products and services than ever before
  • 69% say they expect AMAZON-LIKE experiences.
  • 57% say they have switched to a competitor for a better experience. 
  • No one likes traffic (lol not a real stat but C’mon man)

If you tie in these statistics with over trafficked roads, limited parking, and simple convenience, it seems silly to not even consider Home Delivery. 

What Does Your Typical Home Delivery for a Pet Store Look Like?

A majority of my clients that have successfully implemented Home Delivery in their pet stores have a couple of things in common. 

  • They have the staff and resources that are needed to reach their pre-determined goals.
    • Resources are the easy ones, you either have transportation or you don’t.  But also consider if you estimate that you will do X in sales of Home Delivery, drill into it.  How many trips can be made in an hour? How long can that person be out of the store? If my demand exceeds my expectations how do I plan to meet the increased demand?  If my demand is can’t cover costs, how long do I keep it? (tips on this later)
  • They do not offer Home Delivery for all of their items.
  • By reducing your offering to just inventory with more depth you can increase the likelihood of meeting your customer’s needs.  For example, if you only have 2 small pink bedazzled leather collars, you may not be able to guarantee they are in stock.  Also, choose items that are often replenished. I just got this little demon, and he’s adorable but is eating me out of house and home.  I go through 2 bags of Science Diet a month.  If I wasn’t a loyal small business buyer, I would be happy to switch to Chewy just for convenience.    
  • They have an accurate inventory.
    • If you haven’t read How to make sure your inventory is accurate and online. Do so and then come back.  You should not attempt to do this or Buy Online Pickup In-Store if you do not.  You might still succeed but the chances of you alienating already loyal customers skyrockets.
  • Well Marketed before launch
    • There is absolutely no point in doing this if you don’t let your customers know about it.
      • Put up store signage
      • Send out an email blast
      • Put it at the footer of your receipts
      • Place flyers in bags
      • Notify dog walkers, sitters, daycares, etc. I recommend having flyers for them as well.
  • While there are undoubtedly more features that may vary from retailer to retailer that brings success these have been the most common I have encountered. 

Tech Tools That Can Help You Reach Your Goals?

This is by no means a complete list, but it can at least get you moving.  They are not in any order of importance, but I need to reiterate YOU NEED to have an accurate inventory. 

  1. Postmates
    1. Postmates is a very popular service (cell phone app) that is like Uber Eats, Drizly, or Waitr.  That is except for one glaring detail, they deliver regular items, from regular stores. 
    2. On average merchants that register with them see a 300% increase in sales.
    3. They take a commission on the sales obviously, but this can be a relatively inexpensive way to test the waters before you dive in headfirst. 
    4. Learn more here.
  2. Pet Rewards POS
    1. If you have been following along, you might have read how important having accurate inventory is for this process to have a better chance at success. 
    2. Having a POS that has Integrated Astro and Bag Loyalty is very helpful.  A lot of Retail Management Software has inventory but since it’s not designed for pet stores (Bag Loyalty, Grided Items, Bundles, etc.), it creates a plethora of misplaced inventory. 
    3. Order Management: Once you are dealing with multiple orders from multiple sources this becomes significantly more important.  If you have orders coming in from Ecommerce, Phone, Walk-In, Special Orders, and now App-based delivery, your old way of processing orders will cripple you.  The ability to manage multiple orders simultaneously, instead of one at a time using a single centralized interface is a lifesaver for many of my clients.
  3. Instacart
    1. Similar to Postmates but with a little more panache.
    2. They already partner with Sam’s Club, Petco (ewe), Costco, CVS, etc. 
    3. While Postmates has been around longer, Instacart has more airtime.  They have been showcased by The WSJ, NBC, Forbes, LATimes, Good Morning America, etc. 
    4. They will also help you with Marketing
    5. To learn more, go here.

Closing Thoughts

I hope now you understand why I was so excited to write about this trend in Pet Stores that is really taking off.  You have tons of reasons to try and limited reasons not to.  There really isn’t much more I can say on the topic, but if you have questions, I’d love to hear them.  Also, I’d love your input for next week’s post.  Would you rather read an article on:

About the writer:

Mark Nelms is a Business Development Manager for Pet Rewards POS.  He has conducted over 400 interviews with retailers from almost every vertical and size.  In prior roles, he’s assisted clients like Cumberland Packaging Corporation (Sweet N’ Low), The New England Patriots, and NCR (National Cash Register.)