Building on Your Strengths


Remember when it was easy to build and sustain a successful pet retail operation? 

Yeah, neither do I. However, when one considers what it takes to survive—much less thrive—in today’s hyper-competitive retail climate, it does sometimes seem like things were much simpler just 10 or 15 years ago. Back then, a genuine love for animals, cute store name and decent product selection could go a long way in overcoming a lack of retail acumen. 

Clearly, those days are over. Now facing overwhelming competition from a number of directions, with online outlets proving to be a particularly dangerous breed of opponent, business owners must be at the very top of their game to capture or even defend their slice of the lucrative pet care market. That means having not only the requisite passion for animals, but also a well-honed approach in areas inventory management, store design, supply chain management, human resources, digital marketing and more.

As you will read in this month’s cover story, all pet specialty retailers have their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, which are often dictated by the size of their operation. Understanding these dynamics is essential, but it is only the beginning. Retailers must be able to effectively leverage and build on their strengths while improving areas of weakness in order to achieve long-term success.

That is not something that can be easily accomplished alone. Of course, larger organizations may be able to afford to strengthen specific aspects of their business by bringing experts into the fold. However, this is not usually an option for small independent retailers, which often depend on the storeowner’s ability to wear multiple hats and serve as the de facto expert on every part of the business.

Luckily, there are still great business-building resources available for even the smallest retail operations out there. As Joe Morton, general manager of Pets on Broadway—a one-store business in Portland, Ore.—points out in the cover story, trade shows can be invaluable in this regard. Next month’s Global Pet Expo is a prime example. Taking place March 22-24 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., the show offers a robust educational program, dubbed Global Pet Expo Academy. Here, retailers of all sizes can find valuable, actionable advice from foremost experts on a wide range of retail topics. 

For more information about Global Pet Expo Academy and to view this year’s full schedule of seminars, visit While you’re there, be proactive and sign up for any and all sessions that will help you strengthen your business—every one them is free for retailers who pre-register. 

With a price like that, can you really afford not to attend?