Overall though, the main trends are the humanisation of pets, the switch towards premium quality foods, and an increased focus on natural diets. More and more, pet trends just follow human trends!
How did Pet Circle’s range and category shift as a result of Covid-19?
Demand has increased not just in overall unit volume, but also in terms of the range that consumers are buying. As a result, Pet Circle increased its range by over 25 per cent this year. As an example of changing demand, we’ve sold 2.5 times more grooming items as people are cleaning and caring for their pets at home. We’ve sold 6.5 times more beds [as people are] providing more comfortable spaces for pets. We’ve sold 3.8 times more collars and leads as people are exercising locally alongside their pets. We’ve sold 1.8 times more health supplements as pet parents are more in tune with their pets’ behaviours and health.
What investments has Pet Circle made to improve its delivery service? Why do you believe it’s important to own the last mile?
Covid-19 pushed a lot of demand online which in turn caused congestion across all of the major courier networks, including Australia Post. We are committed to providing the best customer experience and when listening to customers we believed the lack of reliability in these networks was causing friction. As such right in the middle of Covid we decided to roll out our own dedicated network of delivery vans and drivers. This means we can control the last mile – we can deliver customer orders reliably, we train the drivers so they are able to manage the drop off with any specific customer requirements, such as bringing it up the stairs and we can react faster if there are sudden fluctuations in demand. We are confident by owning the experience we can better serve our customers.
What role do vets play in your business?
We believe we have a role to play in educating pet parents across nutritional, lifestyle and behavioural topics. As such we have grown our team of vets from four to 23 over this the last three months so that we can provide lots of helpful advice across a range of touch points. This includes reviewing all products that go on site, writing the product description and content, Facebook live Q&A, always on vet chat support and our Vet Pet Plan service which is a free customised plan across nutritional, lifestyle and behavioural topics written by one of our vets. With the growth in telehealth services this has also provided a foundation to pilot an appointment based phone or video calls to our most valuable customers.
What’s the outlook for the Australian retail market in 2021?
Our data sources suggest we will see the pet supply category grow by around 6 per cent however this will be almost exclusively driven by online, which we project to grow by 30 per cent and premium food which will grow by 13 per cent.
What are your top priorities for the business in the next 12 months?
Our top priorities all revolve around making our customers and their pets happier, and delivering on our mission of building the largest community of pet families in ANZ by being their specialist in everything pet. This focus on the customer experience is taking the following key tracks:
- Improvement in the last mile: by the end 2020 over 75 per cent of all orders being delivered by our dedicated network.
- We want to offer the best possible customer service that is equipped and prepared to go the extra mile for our customers. We are therefore investing substantially in our improved CS team and training.
- The continued roll out of our Vet Squad and the ability to access them directly or indirectly via the content that they produce at all consumer touch points.
- Significant expansion of our range so we can service any pet need – we already have the largest range of pet products in Australia.
- Investment and focus in a data team and data warehouse so we can begin to use the vast amounts of data that we have on customers to provide more valuable, contextual, meaningful experiences.
- The continual evolution and improvement of our digital assets.
- And, finally and critically we are investing in our people, in training and development and the culture, because we need to equip the great team we have with the tools they need to continue to deliver amazing experiences for our customers.
This article was originally published in the Australian Retail Outlook. You can download the full report here.