Pet store success: survive as ‘Brick and Mortar’ in an online shopping world
Pet store success. We live in a new age.
Today, we order online and expect our purchases delivered the next day by UPS. Some now arrive same day by Uber or a drone.
So what is a ‘brick and mortar’ pet store to do?
Get creative, very creative. Do things that online stores cannot. Find a reason for people to shop at your store. Creative is the key word. Be creative or just give up. Those are the only choices.
So how do you do it?
Many possible ideas exist. Think back to the old days of pet stores. What brought people in? Pet store success required creativity then, too. What do the online stores not have?
One word: Animals.
People like animals. We owned a store in upstate New York called Animal Kingdom. We were referred to as the Jamestown zoo. As a USDA licensed dealer, we had Sailfin Dragons, Kinkajous, Piranha and even a Wallaby. Yes, it was a little extra work to take care of them. However, people came in regularly with their kids to see the animals. While there, they bought things. You don’t have to get really exotic on what you carry. Fish bring people in. Reptiles bring people in. Snakes, spiders, scorpions are also big attention getters. Those bunnies and guinea pigs garner plenty of attention, too.
Self-serve dog washes draw regular visitors, too. People need to wash their pets. Not all can afford a professional groomer. Grooming their pets at home may be difficult and messy. They come in to use your dog wash, for a fee. While there, they buy shampoos, flea dips, and conditioner. A new collar and some treats might catch their eye, too. In addition, you might rent towels for their use. You create a new income stream without adding employees.
Community service events attract attention, too. Giving to your community can increase pet store success results. At our store, we did a fingerprint weekend for parents with young kids. A local police officer joined us, We supplied the fingerprint cards, ink and clean up supplies. Parents received their children’s cards, along with safety information. Families appreciated our concern and helpfulness. We made new friends, too. In the same area, we displayed products popular with families with young children including betta fish setups.
Consider items that are unique and less available online.
Natural and raw foods continue rising in popularity. People, concerned with their pet’s health, seek foods that are high quality. Keep your stock fresh and offer information on the products.
Talk with people.
Online shopping lacks that personal touch. Staff that knows the products and possesses the knowledge to answer customer questions might be your strongest asset. Customers ask questions about foods, training, behavior, and products. Ensure your staff is trained and ready. Be friendly and helpful to each person entering your store. Pet store success requires a friendly, knowledgeable staff.
The ‘beat them at their own game’ approach often works, too.
Offer home delivery for a small fee. via your own drivers within a short distance around your store (5 miles or so). Also, include other items to show, such as dog toys, leashes, and collars. Include special sale items. People like to touch and feel things as opposed to just looking at them on a screen.