Why Retailers Have to Keep Innovating


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While scrolling through my daily Google news alerts, one headline in particular caught my eye: Why Does it Take a Crisis for Retailers to Get Innovative? It’s an interesting question, but it’s also the wrong one to be asking. You see, it doesn’t matter what drove retailers to employ more creative selling strategies—all that’s important is that they were implemented. A more appropriate question would be, what can retailers do to keep diversifying their businesses?

 

The problem with all those contact-free shopping experiences is that they don't really give retailers a competitive edge. Sure, offerings like home delivery and curbside pickup put independent pet stores in a better position to compete with Chewy.com and Amazon, but they also level the playing between local retail outlets. If Kelly’s Pet Supplies and Jen’s Pet Warehouse both offer online shopping and curbside pick-up options, both stores have to figure out another element that will help them outshine the other.

 

The most obvious areas would be refining the product selection and staying on top of trends, but other avenues to consider include increased advertising presence and appealing to shoppers who feel their pets are underrepresented in the industry. We’re also in a time where there’s been—and will continue to be—a sharp uptick in pet ownership. In addition to appealing to the customers they already have, retailers should also be going out of their way to garner the attention of first-time pet owners, as well as those who’ve introduced additional pets into their household.

 

In the not-so-distant past, retailers were able to rely on in-store events and experiences to draw in customers; but, of course, social distancing guidelines have put a damper on that. There are alternatives, though, such as Facebook Live pet parties or virtual product demonstrations.

 

Perhaps retailers should even consider workshopping ideas on how to sell subscription boxes to their customers, an area that already experienced 145-percent growth. A subscription box doesn’t even have to be anything extravagant and pricey, à la FabFitFun—it could simply be something that’ll make pet owners feel special without breaking anyone’s bank. Reach out to your manufacturers and see if they'd have any interest in collaborating on a venture, or reach out to other local pet-related businesses (grooming salons, day cares, boarding places) about potential partnerships. Nows not the time to sit back and think youve done enough—stay creative and keep innovating.

 

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