There aren’t many pet retailers who would have guessed that a worldwide pandemic would turn their world upside down and make e-commerce a requirement for staying in business. EarthWise Pet, however, was prepared for the turbulence.
While the chain certainly didn’t predict the upheaval caused by COVID-19, it did understand that e-commerce would be a vital part of pet retailing in the very near future, and thus began working on its own e-commerce platform back in 2016.
After mixed early results, the chain eventually switched to eTailPet’s platform after working closely with the e-commerce specialist on some important some system-specific customizations.
According to Bere Giannini, president of eTailPet, Michael Seitz, CEO of Earthwise Pet, had a clear vision for the franchise’s e-commerce strategy from the beginning.
“He knew back then how important it would be for the franchisees to have a competent digital presence,” she says. “All EarthWise Pet locations have had BOPIS [buy online, pickup in store] and local delivery capabilities if they want them since 2019, including auto-order.”
These capabilities, combined with third-party fulfillment and even online booking for services, have proven invaluable for EarthWise Pet’s franchisees, who depend on Seitz and his corporate team’s broad perspective on where retail is going in order to stay ahead of the curve in a variety of areas, not the least of which is e-commerce.
“One of the benefits of being a franchise system is that the franchisor can focus on what keeps stores in business 5 to 10 years down the line while individual franchisees can focus on the daily and near-term operations,” says Jorge Aguero, vice presiden of tech development and systems for Earthwise Pet. “For this reason, we are able to think long-term and build the systems we think will be needed in tomorrow’s pet industry.”
Over the years, EarthWise Pet has consistently updated and improved its e-commerce channels to accommodate its franchisees’ and customers’ ever-evolving needs by making sure it devotes the proper resources to such an important area of the business.
“We have a dedicated marketing and tech team that works on recreating the in-store experience in the digital world,” says Aguero.
To help consumers learn about their e-commerce offerings, EarthWise turns to its franchisees to share information in their stores. Whether it’s by sharing information through social media channels, community events or with paid digital advertising, EarthWise Pet franchisees can directly communicate what digital capabilities they offer.
Each location also has its own micro-site with e-commerce capabilities tied directly to their in-store inventory.
“We had to choose between a centralized site that filtered to the store-level or individual micro-sites for each store with local customization under an umbrella theme,” Aguero explains. “We opted for the latter.”
So, what’s next for EarthWise Pet’s e-commerce?
“We are coming ‘in-store,’” says Giannini. “EarthWise Pet is migrating their franchise to our all-in-one software that includes in-store POS, e-commerce, appointment booking, and customer engagement tools.
“Our all-in-one solution will streamline the delivery of goods to the consumer, so EarthWise Pet franchises can have more time to focus on what they love, their customers.”