An Open Letter to the Pet Industry
We are now a couple of weeks into what is an unprecedented time for us all. The way we communicate, shop and operate our businesses—frankly, the way we live—has changed seemingly overnight, and there is simply no way to know exactly how long it will take for things get back to normal.
But make no mistake about it, things will get back to normal.
Despite all of the uncertainty out there today, this is not an end, but rather a temporary disruption. And we’ve dealt with disruptions before, always coming through them stronger than ever. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that we will do so again.
With that said, when we’re facing so many unknowns, it can be hard to plan for the future. But we must. Because when life inevitably returns to normal, it will be those who stayed focused on what comes next who will come through it on top.
So, let’s put the uncertainty aside for a moment and focus on a few things that we DO know:
Pet stores across the country are still open for business.
An overwhelming number of state and local governments are granting pet specialty retailers “essential business” status so they can stay open and provide pet owners with the supplies they need to care for their animal companions. These retailers obviously need product, so they need to know what is available and where they can get it—and they are depending on their vendors to make that information as easy to find as possible.
Independent retailers are looking for loyalty from their vendors.
The big bump in sales that many pet stores experienced over the past couple of weeks included business that was won back from online outlets like Chewy and Amazon—at least temporarily. But retailers are clearly worried that vendors will ultimately end up favoring of online outlets when it comes to ensuring the supply of product and allowing a return to predatory pricing practices. So, they’re looking closely at their current and prospective brand partners to see if they can depend on their loyalty during this period of disruption.
Isolation will strengthen our bond with our pets.
If there was ever a time when we needed the love and calming influence of our pets, it is now. As millions of people isolate themselves in their homes and have limited contact with family and friends, it is only natural that we would turn to our animal companions to fill the void. And as we’ve seen in past instances of widespread “nesting,” this will inevitably end up elevating the important place that pets hold in our lives. With that in mind, now is the time to be bullish on the future of the pet industry overall, and the high-touch, high-service independent retail channel in particular.
Understanding and maintaining your faith in these simple truths—and steering your business accordingly—will undoubtedly be the keys to your ongoing success. Keep that in focus, and together we will come through this stronger than ever.