Owning a natural pet supply store is an overwhelming, fun, exciting and sometimes challenging experience. The pet industry, which includes foods & supplies, grooming, veterinary, training, and boarding, is largely recession-proof. And just like other industries, the product part of the industry is shifting more and more to pet parents purchasing their products online rather than in brick-and-mortar locations.
In addition, pet owners are wanting variety in their supplies and services like never before. We’re not seeing pet owners settling on one treat, one food, or one toy for their dogs and cats as much as they used to. The demand now is high for variation in all of these areas.
As pet owners are learning more about ingredients and our pet’s needs, their desire to find more natural products has increased as well. This is where it becomes so fun for us as retailers, and yet sometimes challenging as well.
For most of us, the challenge is two-fold:
1). Having the time to learn about all the products and sift through all the companies to find the ones producing the best products can be challenging, especially as we are all short-staffed.
Noise in the industry is sometimes confusing. What do I mean by noise? There are hundreds of thousands of products, and almost all can be found online now. We want to be able to support our pet owners’ needs and balance that by having products available that we feel support our mission of healthy, natural foods, treats and supplements.
Pet owners tell us every day about new products. We track requests, and we research every request as well. We want to supply what you want! On the other hand, if the requests either do not match our minimum requirements, such as ingredient quality, sourcing, or perhaps ethics of the company producing a product, we may not be comfortable adding something to our product lineup, but we will do our best to offer another option.
2). The second most challenging issue I’m certain everyone is experiencing is product shortages and continual price increases on everything, including pet foods and supplies. In the past, a pet food manufacturer generally raised prices annually – a catch-up on the costs of producing their products over the previous 12 months. Now, we’re seeing it constantly, and we know everyone is feeling it.
We know pet foods are a large part of a dog and cat owners’ budget, so, in an effort to make pet foods and supplies as affordable as possible, most local stores are doing their best to increase only when necessary and as small as possible. Oftentimes, you will see your local store’s prices are just about the same as most online retailers, and most of us do offer frequent buyer or points programs to help offset the costs. In addition, many of us are rewarding online auto-order customers with discounts and bulk buying discounts.
It’s an exciting time for pet owners because we have never seen so much variety! Please feel free to reach out to me to let me know how we can best serve you!