How technology is shaping the present and future of pet retail.
In today’s digital world, technology can be seen as both a blessing and a curse, offering its fair share of both opportunities and challenges for retailers in the pet industry. Being constantly connected means it’s more critical than ever for pet retailers to stay on top of tech—in both the products they sell and the presence they establish—in order to stay competitive. Here are some ideas on how to tap into technology to capitalize on opportunities that appeal to and attract more customers.
Stock the Latest Gear & Gadgets
Pet tech is big business. In fact, the Consumer Technology Association projects that this emerging retail category—which includes products like interactive toys, automated feeders, apps, pet GPS and grooming devices—is poised to generate $233 million in revenue in the United States this year, up 18 percent over 2017.
This category was well-represented last month at SuperZoo’s Pet Tech Center, which showcased everything from robots to GPS sensors to Bluetooth-equipped gadgets. Pet tech will also be a focal point on the show floor at Aquatic Experience 2018, where exhibitors will showcase new products like timed feeding technology and automated lighting and cleaning devices.
With new advances being developed daily, and with customers constantly looking for the latest way to implement technology into their pet’s care, pet tech is likely to only keep growing. That means keeping up with the latest innovations is key to bringing in new business and boosting your store’s revenue. Plus, in a boon for brick-and-mortar businesses, statistics show that customers not only want to purchase new technology, but they want to see, touch and test it first—making them likely to shop for new gadgets in person, as opposed to online.
Now, more than ever, it’s essential to stock and promote high-tech pet products in your store. Create an interactive tech section. Hold in-store demos. Train your staff to be pet tech “geniuses” able to answer any of your customers’ tech-related questions. Establishing your store as the pet-tech expert positions you for success as new technologies continue to emerge.
It’s not only pet tech products that will keep you competitive. Your digital presence and technical know-how are also integral to driving new business, targeting new audiences and appealing to loyal customers alike. On the business side, make use of a wide assortment of apps and online tools that can help you streamline your operations—from scheduling staff to tracking inventory. If a task is cumbersome or time-consuming, look for an app that can help. There truly is an app for almost everything. Personally, I couldn’t live without my favorites: Evernote (my virtual memory), Cam Scanner (scan from anywhere), Slack (keeping in touch with my team) and Magic Plan (to create a floor plan in seconds).
On the marketing and promotions side, tap into customer relationship management (CRM) tools to build and maintain a customer database, communicate with customers, customize their shopping experience, promote products that appeal to their preferences and much more. And on the social media side, build and maintain a presence on all social media sites to interact with different demographics, promote new products and in-store events, connect with potential new customers and differentiate yourself from your competition.
It’s Never Too Soon—or Too Late—to Get Started
Not sure where to begin your journey into embracing new technology? World Pet Association offers a wide variety of useful tools and resources in our Industry Insider publication, as well as a number of tech-related education sessions at our annual events. We launched pet retail’s first-ever Pet Tech Center at SuperZoo this past June, featuring a variety of Bluetooth, automated, robotic and other smart devices. And at this year’s Aquatic Experience, sessions like “Building and Maintaining a Thriving Aquatic Business in Today’s Digital World” and “Are Your Customers Finding You on Social Media?” give retailers expert insight into implementing technology into their business practices. Seeking out products and education like this is a great step toward staying tech-savvy in today’s digital era. PB
Jacinthe Moreau is president of World Pet Association (worldpetassociation.org). Aquatic Experience 2018 will be held October 19-21, at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J.