For many small, indepedent pet stores, the process of ordering new inventory used to be a time-consuming chore that often required working with multiple sources to access all of the products that they wanted for their shelves. But the emergence of Wholesalepet.com made the process much easier by offering access to a wide variety of pet product suppliers in one place. This allows retailers to greatly streamline the ordering process.
“We provide boutiques access to the brands and products that do well through the niche independent channel,” says Bo Nelson, company founder and president. “Being a small business, we understand the challenges our retailers face, and our goals are simply to give retailers access to the products they want, at the best prices available, and to make the wholesale buying process quick, easy and hassle-free for the retailers who use our service.”
Personalized service is what sets independent retailers apart from their competition, and Nelson says that’s something he has in common with his retail customers. “We realize having a strong focus on quality customer service is also vital to the success of our business,” he says. “Retailers can purchase the lines on our site direct from the manufacturer or through other sources. Given these choices, we understand providing a consistent, superior level of service is often the deciding factor as to whether a retailer will use our website.”
In order to provide that higher level of service, WholesalePet.com works to bridge the gap between retailers and vendors and has developed long-standing relationships with the manufacturers whose products it offers. These relationships allow the company to quickly answer product questions and resolve issues with retailers’ orders in a timely manner.
More than 270 carefully chosen vendors and 400 brands are available through the company’s site, for a total of over 100,000 products. “Other than bulk dry pet food and cat litter, we offer selections to fill all categories of any dog and cat boutique,” says Nelson. “We strive to not only represent category leaders, but brands that are exclusive to independent pet stores. The brands and vendors on WholesalePet.com allow independent retailers to differentiate their merchandising mix from that of chain stores, and even distributor-fed stores, in their area.”
Each vendor is reviewed to ensure it offers high-quality products that perform well in the independent pet specialty channel before the company will offer that vendor’s products to its retailer base. “We decline over 90 percent of the vendors who request to be represented,” says Nelson. The majority of new lines are chosen based on retailer recommendations and suggestions.
In 2001, when Nelson first launched the company, it was a basic website that provided retailers with product information and assisted them in easily ordering merchandise for their stores. But over the years it has evolved into more of an online community. “We have an active message board, which is a great engagement tool for retailers to talk with their counter parts in other areas of the country,” says Nelson.
Last month, that evolution went a step further when the company utilized retailer feedback to completely overhaul its website. “As a small business owner, I realize the need to constantly reinvent and improve on your service offerings,” says Nelson. “Undergoing a major change is often a difficult decision when things are going well for your business. WholesalePet.com sales and market share have increased significantly each of the nine years we have been in business and we are by far the leader in the on-line space for wholesale pet supplies. While our previous site has served us well, we were constantly listening to feedback from our retail and supply partners on how our service and website could be improved.”
Nelson and his team spent years gathering feedback at trade shows, and in January the company sent a comprehensive survey to its customers to solicit even more input. “We compiled all their site related suggestions and have tried to incorporate them into our new site design,” says Nelson.
While the overhaul includes new graphics and a new layout, the changes are more than skin deep. “Other than the new graphics and site layout, the first thing retailers should notice when visiting WholesalePet.com are the advanced navigational features,” he says. These upgraded navigation options allow retailers to find products more quickly by using new product categories to make more informed purchasing decisions. Retailers can now compare similar products from different suppliers on the same page and can filter products by specific attributes (for example: “on sale,” “drop shipping,” “American-made” or “eco-friendly”).
A new smart search box at the top of every page will “fetch” products by keyword. In addition, retailers are now able to filter down certain products without having to click through a ton of options to see a price. Products can now be added to a retailer’s shopping cart without being directed to the cart page each time, and a “My favorites” section of the site allows retailers to custom populate lists of orders, vendors and products to make reordering items quicker.
The previous re-order function has been improved; retailers can now recreate a previously placed order in their cart with one click. The order submission process has also been simplified and now allows retailers to place multiple vendor orders from a single page. Receipts, order status notifications and order tracking communications have all been updated as well, and security enhancements ensure the company is employing the highest level of security standards.
Less immediately noticeable is perhaps the biggest benefit of the overhauled site–the upgraded platform allows retailers to integrate Wholesalepet.com order files directly into their own order-processing systems. “This shortens lead times and results in fewer order errors for our retailers,” says Nelson.
In the next phase of the site’s development, Wholesalepet.com will enable direct input of orders from its retailer’s point-of-sale systems. “Ultimately, we envision WholesalePet.com to be the conduit between a retailer’s POS system and a supplier’s order-processing system, where re-orders are automatically processed without ever requiring manual input of data,” he says. “This is an efficiency of large chain store operations; our goal is to bring a version of this to independent businesses within the pet industry.”