An Edge on the Competition
Andy Katz, president of PetEdge Dealer Services, discusses how unique products and visual presentations can put specialty retailers ahead of their mass competitors.
Pet Business: How have independent retailers fared against the competition from mass retailers?
Katz: The big-box and mass retailers have a more limited assortment that has to fit into the bigger picture of how they merchandise their stores. The independent retailers that have been the most successful have differentiated themselves with service. The humanization trend is really important to the extent that retailers are able to provide a way for consumers to express the love of their pets through creative merchandising and unique product presentations. Retailers who have done a good job in product selection, merchandising and making their stores fun for the customers have been successful.
PB: How does PetEdge Dealer Services help pet specialty retailers compete?
Katz: We provide products that are not available in the big-box and mass stores. Our products allow our retailers to differentiate themselves and to create a more engaging, interesting and fun shopping experience in their stores. We develop collections of product that can visually inspire consumers. For example, our new spring items include Monkey Business (monkey characters that we integrated into apparel, toys, collars and leads, and beds), a new license program with Dog Is Good and another character line called Tuff Dog. These themed presentations give the retailer an opportunity to create a fun or a high-style atmosphere in the store—one that the consumer is not going to experience in a Walmart.
We are also selling solutions and very compelling visual presentations. We have certain plan-o-gram presentations, but we will also work with a retailer. If a retailer wants to dedicate 20 feet to dog toys, we can create the most compelling 20-foot visual presentation across multiple themes and create the right presentation based on the demographic of that retailer’s customers.
PB: How do you help your clients develop new ideas?
Katz: We are constantly developing new products. This spring we came out with 600 new products. Every season we’re coming out with new collections. If you’re going into the store and you’re seeing the same product, it can get a little monotonous. It becomes easier to just go buy a bag of dog food without checking out what’s new. We’re always trying to keep the merchandise fresh and help the retailer keep their store fresh.
PB: How has PetEdge Dealer Services grown since it launched, particularly over the last few years?
Katz: The depth and sophistication of our product development capabilities are much stronger. We’re developing more patented products and unique designs that are being well received in the market. We have distribution centers on the east and west coast of the U.S., and all of the orders we get go out the same day that we receive them. Since we can give a fast turnaround, our retailers can be more efficient with their inventory management, which has become increasingly important to retailers in order to get a faster turn on their cash-to-cash cycle. We also have a very wide assortment of product categories. Retailers are more interested in consolidating their buying—they don’t want to have to buy from 50 different vendors. We can manage several different categories for them, and that has been helpful and important to some.
PB: What are the latest developments at PetEdge Dealer Services?
Katz: Within the past year, we launched our own food line, Blackwood Pet Food, which is being very well received. It’s a high-end, exclusive brand of food that’s only available in specialty retailers. People are always looking for something that will help them differentiate themselves—that they can sell with confidence and know that it’s not going to be in the big-box stores.