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Most pet stores—and let’s face it, most people—are more than excited to put 2020 in the rearview mirror. As 2020 winds to a close with the typical fervor of the holiday season, many store owners and managers across the country are beginning to prepare their 2021 strategies.

Much is still unknown, including when many pet stores can expect in-store shopper traffic to fully return to normal. However, there is similarly much that can be done that will enable pet stores to not only survive but thrive in the upcoming year.

Here are a few ways you can prepare your pet store for the next year, the rest of the decade, and beyond!


Invest in Technology Now

Technology initiatives are critical at the end of any calendar year. We’re in an increasingly technological environment, and the biggest developments in the pet industry in regards to technology are occurring in the eCommerce space.

Investing in an eCommerce platform—or better yet, an eCommerce platform seamlessly integrated with your point of sale platform and register—is critical for surviving in a post-Chewy environment. With so much of the industry moving online with the rising tide of digital sales, small and large businesses alike are looking to diversity their platforms with an eye on a piece of the growing online pie.

The pet eCommerce space is looking to double or even triple in the next decade. Investing now means you’re rising with the tide—not being left in its wake.


Become Hyperlocal

Oversaturation of content online can mean that competition in the digital space can be too financially costly for many small and medium-sized businesses. That’s precisely why focusing your pet store on becoming a hyperlocal brand is critical.

Hyperlocal brands are focused not on gathering as many people as possible, but rather focusing on customers a short drive or even a walk away from your store. Bigger online brands may be able to secure better margins or lower wholesale costs, but small businesses can compete in the hyperlocal space far better than any mega-corporation.

Focus your efforts on what you can do for locals. Build intimate, communal relationships and offer strong loyalty programs to keep your happy customers coming back for more. Deliver pet products right to your customers in hours—not days.

The more daylight you can put between yourself and online brands, the better. Small business still remains competitive and highly viable—all you need to do is show your customers why it works for them.


Final Thoughts

This year has fundamentally altered the business landscape—but that doesn’t have to a bad thing. Unprecedented economic upheaval has catalyzed online sales and with it, brought a focus on delivery management. Today’s consumers want products fast and remain vigilant about the companies they wish to support.

By taking the time to invest in new technology initiatives and branding now, pet stores and their notorious recession resistance are uniquely qualified to enter 2021 in a stronger position for growth than ever before.