They did it again. Just when you thought it couldn't get any lower, That e-commerce giant (also known as Amazon) has lowered the price on your top selling brand of dog food by another $5.
Because of their size and ordering capabilities, online retailers can afford to knock down the retail prices for brands so low that little to no money is made per sale. While these companies are able to sell other products at a higher margin to make up for it, this technique is impossible to imitate offline.
With the option to compete on price out of the equation, brick and mortar retailers must do everything they can to promote other benefits. The question then becomes: how do you add customer value without being able to compete on price?
There's no way around it: technology is taking over our lives. Every day, consumers are splitting their attention between devices and real world conversations. They're using them to do everything from interacting with their pets to researching a dog kennel to replace the old one.
If you can't fight it, join it. You can incorporate technology into your strategy using any of the following techniques:
- Incorporate product reviews in your pet store
- Make your pet store a little more mobile friendly
- Invest in internet marketing
- Engage on social media
Provide Valuable Resources
Believe it or not, your pet shop is much more than a place for pet owners to pick up their favorite brand of dog food. It's a hub where customers can learn about all things related to their pet.
Ask yourself: Are you adding value through engaging and educational content?
This technique encourages responsible pet ownership, creates customer loyalty and recognition through shared content, and promotes your store as a one-stop shop for both pet education and supplies.
Sharing engaging and educational content is one of the best ways to position your store as a thought leader and central hub for all things "pet." It will ensure customers think of you first whenever they have questions and turn to you for guidance.
Create the Ultimate Customer Experience
While attracting loyal customers is difficult enough, one particular challenge that pet specialty retailers face is getting customers to come back as repeat business. Some stores try loyalty cards while others try social media giveaways and discounts.
However, maybe there’s more to keeping loyal customers in the digital age than a simple promotion here and there.
In fact, creating a memorable positive customer experience is a proven way to turn a first-time consumer into a loyal repeat customer for your store. To do so, begin with these steps:
- Determine your why - Your “why” is the essential foundation to creating a pet store experience that will keep your customers coming back.
- Make it about the experience, not the product - Remember this: if you’ve made your customer smile, you’re already more than halfway to achieving your goal of keeping them coming back for more.
- Create the ultimate experience - Do something that truly sets you apart from your competition
Matthew Hudson, president of Rick Segel & Associates told Pets + Magazine that, "if you exceed a customer’s expectations, they are 96% likely to return to your store."
If you're interested in diving into this topic a little further, you can find our guide to creating a customer experience here.
Invest in Top Notch Employees
Anyone who's ever been in a management position can tell you one thing: hiring great employees is a difficult process. Not only that, but what's sometimes even more difficult is keeping them on staff, engaged, and enthusiastic about their job.
While no doubt there are many good reasons to invest in better employee training, there are still a high number of store employees who lack the proper training required in order to maximize sales.
Employee training is crucial for pet stores because it:
- Helps you stand out from the competition
- Boosts employee engagement and confidence
- Creates customized solutions for customers
Many pet store employees are millennials. This generation has changed the game of hiring and managing employees throughout multiple industries. Unfortunately, many companies are seeing high turnover and low engagement rates with their younger work force.
With this struggle, the question becomes: How do you hire, retain, and engage a millennial employee?
- Keep work challenging and rewarding
- Understand the importance of work-life balance
- Cater to their social side
- Listen to their ideas
- Let them know where they stand
Because every business is different, there's no clear-cut way to compete against companies who undercut your prices. However, remembering your benefits and using them to your advantage as well is a great way to side-step that particular downfall and become a must-go destination for every pet owner in your community.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Hoffman is a freelance content marketer in the pet and design industries. Growing up in the pet industry, she has keen insight on market trends and a passion for helping small businesses grow. Her portfolio includes various topics from pet food trends to using technology and marketing strategies to boost pet business sales. When she's not writing articles or working her day job, she's playing with her two cats (Kitty and Chewbacca), reading a book, or hiking one of Washington's many trails.
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