Cyber Search
By Mark Kalaygian
January 7, 2010

My search for a new neighborhood pet store continues… As I wrote in my last blog (“Welcome to the Neighborhood”), my family recently moved to a new town, so we’re currently on the hunt for a new place to shop for our two dogs. My latest efforts found me surfing the Internet to look for a potential fit among the local pet specialty retailers. What I found, however, was quite surprising.

 

Out of the 20 or so independent pet stores I uncovered in a quick Google search of my local area (within a 10-mile radius of my home), only seven had some type of website. After ruling out a bird-only store and a reptile-only store (both of which had great websites that were full of information about their animals in which they specialized), as well as two stores that had only a token web presence that listed their location and store hours, I was down to just three store websites to peruse. Two of these were for full-line pet stores, and the third was for a high-end boutique.

Now, maybe I’m a bit of cyber-snob, but I really like to check out a retailer’s website before actually making a trip to the store—particularly if it’s not in a location that I pass on a regular basis. This is particularly true when it comes to pet stores, as I’ve found that the quality of these retail outlets can greatly vary, and a simple business listing simply does not convey what I will find once I get to the store. I have to believe that many other pet owners have come to the same conclusion.

 

It’s mind-boggling to me that less than half of the independent pet stores in my local area have anything approaching a comprehensive website in this day and age. By no means am I talking about a best-in-class Internet presence (although that would certainly be ideal and would speak volumes about the establishment), but at least one that includes some pictures of the interior and exterior of the store, as well as some description of what types of products are carried (listing some brands would be even better) would go a long way in motivating me to take some time out of my busy schedule to pay the store a visit.