Why Home Delivery is No Longer Optional
Given the overwhelming impact that convenience now has on consumers’ purchasing decisions, can pet retailers really afford to wait for customers to come into the store to pick up a bag of pet food? I don’t think so.
Let’s face it: Today’s pet owners have no shortage of options when it comes to shopping for pet products, many of which are probably more convenient—not to mention less expensive—than taking a trip to their local mom-and-pop pet store, even if it is right around the corner.
Amazon, for example, has built a vast network of distribution centers that enable it to offer same-day delivery in many places for some of the most popular pet food brands sitting on your shelf right now (a service that is free for Amazon Prime members). And many experts expect that the online retail giant’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market could extend this reach to essentially cover every neighborhood in the U.S.
But it’s not just online players like Amazon that you should be concerned about. In fact, a number of pet specialty retail chains across the country have added or enhanced their own home-delivery services to better compete on convenience. Most notably, PetSmart recently expanded its same-day delivery capabilities from 19 to 33 metropolitan markets through its partnership with third-party delivery company Deliv. If you’re counting on the fact that you have little to no overlap in product selection with the big-box chains to help you rest easy, consider the fact that many independent chains like Bentley’s Pet Stuff, Kriser’s and Chuck & Don’s—retailers that probably carry most, if not all, of the same food brands that you stock—have amped up their own home delivery services.
Facing a rising tide like this, there is no excuse for any pet retailer—regardless of their size—to not offer the convenience of home delivery for their customers. In fact, not only should you offer this service, you should go above and beyond to make sure that each and every one of your customers understands that it is an option.
In a way, this may seem contrary to what we all know to be the main competitive strength of small pet retailers—customer service. But at the end of the day, isn’t making a pet owners’ hectic life just a little bit easier by saving them a trip to the store a part of that?