How Are Vendors Helping Pet Retailers During the COVID-19 Crisis? 


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The coronavirus pandemic has rocked the world, and its far-reaching implications are impossible to predict. However, what’s clear in this time of uncertainty is that the industry’s vendors will need to support independent retailers as they deal with a decline in store traffic. 

Despite the initial uptick in sales that comes with pet owners’ need for instant gratification at a time of crisis, sales will inevitably suffer. It’s imperative that businesses remain savvy and be prepared to help customers in any way they can, but distributors and manufacturers can also do their part to ensure retailers are supported. 

Discounts and Extensions
Delaying payment due dates and offering to prepay in advance for services prior to use can help ease the financial burden on a business. P.L.A.Y. Pet Lifestyle and You is extending Net 30 terms in the short term to any customer who places an order through its online ordering platform, Handshake. Cosmic Pet is also “working on implementing significant deals or discount opportunities to support loss of revenue,” according to Tim Blurton, CEO. 

Maintaining Stocked Shelves
Panic-buying has left many store shelves barren. In February, prior to the real spike in panic buying, manufacturers and retailers alike were having supply chain issues, as products from China were stopped or slow to come in. To help retailers keep shelves stocked, manufacturers, like West Paw, have since offered programs to provide extra products to stores in need of supplies. 

Providing Resources and Information 
Understanding how to go about navigating a crisis is key to surviving it. To assist small businesses, pet industry organizations are offering insight and information on their websites and providing links to relevant and accurate information. The American Pet Products Association hosted a webinar titled, Small Business and COVID-19, specifically to help small businesses when it comes to dealing with closures and managing employees. The webinar, that took take place on March 24, addresses the difficult issues and decisions small business owners may be facing now or in the near future. 

For distributors, offering information about the specific region(s) they service—and maintaining a level of transparency with partners—is imperative. Pet Food Experts, for example, is offering information about how your specific state or area could be impacted by the coronavirus, and what the implications mean for your business. Being transparent about your own business practices, what you’re doing to address coronavirus concerns with your own employees, how you’re keeping warehouses and storage supply centers sanitized and more can help strengthen a business partnership, too.  

Engaging with Local Representatives
Pet industry leaders drafted a letter encouraging government officials and local government representatives to allow pet stores to remain open as an “essential business” so pet owners have access to products their pets need. The United States Department of Homeland Security has recognized some dog, cat and other food industry professionals as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers,” but this will serve only as a way to guide governments on what actions they take. While pet retailers need to engage with their local officials to ensure their businesses can stay open, other sectors of the pet industry can do their part to interact with lawmakers, too. 

Together, we can help each other weather this crisis. Should you have any other suggestions for how businesses can assist retailers, let us know at jgoetz@petbusiness.com

 

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