Plug Into the Data Revolution

There is an abundance of information available to help pet specialty retailers improve their businesses, provided they know what to look for and where it can be found.



   Maria Lange



Resting on laurels has never been part of any retailer’s formula for success. Doing well means staying hungry—eager to learn, experiment and shake things up, if need be.

The question is: How do pet retailers make the right decisions for their businesses? In the past, stores and even chains could be run on some very basic metrics and a generous helping of gut instinct. That’s all that was available. In addition, the choices to be made were simpler—SKUs were manageable, coupons were printed in the newspaper, and a supermarket was one-tenth the size of your average Walmart.

Now the stakes are much higher. Intense competition is driving prices through the floor, and shelf space is at an absolute premium. Meanwhile, consumers have access to more and more sources of product, plus online reviews and commentary on sellers—customer service, prices and even the number of parking spaces in a shopping mall.

In a world where more and more information is at everyone’s fingertips, how can pet specialty retailers turn this abundance to their advantage? One pitfall of today’s “big data” is that finding the insight that will transform your business is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Retailers need to tap into the rich sources of information available to them—and, once they have it all, become experts at filtering out the noise.

GfK offers retailers a powerful advantage through access to its point-of-sale information from 11,000-plus U.S. stores–including some of the largest outlets, as well as mom-and-pop shops. To get this access, a retailer simply needs to share its own POS (completely anonymous). With GfK’s insights and other resources at the retailers’ disposal, they are poised to make smarter decisions.

But what should pet retailers be looking for?

After years of working with data from pet food sellers and manufacturers, some metrics stand out as particularly telling and valuable. To get started, here is a list of the top six pieces of information every retailer should know to stay competitive—or better yet, ahead of the game.

Key Attributes: With price driving industry growth, retailers should know what attributes drive higher prices.

“Hot” Brands: Retailers should know which brands are “hot” in order to drive more customer traffic.

The Next Wave: Retailers should be aware of emerging trends, so they can ride the wave of growth instead of playing catch-up.

Customer Profiles: Retailers should be able to describe and segment the customers who are buying in their stores, so they can market to them—encouraging more sales.

Industry Developments: Stay informed of industry developments from our team of experts, who share insights with GfK retailers based on a variety of published resources.

Fair Share: Benchmarking store sales against the marketplace will enable a retailer to know whether it is under- or over-performing, and then change or learn accordingly.

Retailers can keep coming back to The Savvy Retailer column in the pages of Pet Business each month for insights on consumer trends, pet products, the science of retailing and more. Having the right information at your fingertips is truly the key to success for any business.

Maria Lange is senior product manager of GfK’s Retail and Technology team, helping major industry clients use GfK’s point-of-sale pet database.

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