4 Ways Retailers Can Tap Into Pet Tech
Cameras that give pet owners the opportunity to see and interact with their pet when they’re not home, like PetChatz’s Greet & Treat videophone, help owners stay connected to their pets.
In today’s high-tech society, people are constantly connected through a wide variety of devices. It only makes sense that pet owners would want to be connected to their animals as well, watching over them from work and vacation, ensuring their health, safety and happiness, or simply checking in to say hello. That’s why it’s no surprise that in a world that’s tied together by a virtual web of technology, the pet community is increasingly plugged in to innovation.
In fact, the pet tech product category reached a record $565 million in sales in 2018. As pet retailers, it’s imperative to incorporate some of the industry’s top-rated products into your store’s inventory as a great step toward to increasing your profits and customer retention.
Here’s a look into some of the top uses of pet tech and products customers are looking to purchase:
Keeping Customers Connected with Their Pets
Pet owners often wonder what their animals are doing when they’re home alone. That’s where interactive pet cameras come into play. The newest pet camera devices allow two-way video “chats” between owners and their pets. Using artificial intelligence and pet-recognition technology, the camera is activated when the pet gets close enough, triggering pet “selfies” and even allowing pet owners to dispense treats from afar.
What should retailers do? Capitalize on the pet-camera trend. Stock a variety of options and set up hands-on demos in your store. Train staff as “pet-tech geniuses” to be available to answer any questions and help customers get accustomed to using new products. If a retailer personally owns one of these new products, they should demo its real-life application to their clients. Nothing makes a better endorsement than owning and using the technology.
Providing Pet Owners Peace of Mind
Do you remember your first cellphone? It likely had a flip-down keypad and maybe even an antenna! With all the high-tech cellphones available today, it should come as no surprise that there’s a device marketing itself as “your dog’s first smartphone.” Smart collars might not teach dogs to talk, but they can track a dog’s location and activity to provide pet owners peace of mind that their dog is not only safe, but also active and healthy, which is great for pets who are on a diet; these products are like a GPS tracking device and a four-legged Fitbit all in one!
What should retailers do? Educate, educate, educate. With more than 10 million dogs and cats reported lost or stolen each year in the U.S., according to the American Humane Association, pet owners will benefit from products that keep their pets safe and easy to locate. Hold in-store education sessions on pet safety while promoting your inventory of loss-prevention pet-tech products. Also consider promoting free apps, such as Finding Rover, which offers a pet face recognition technology that can identify pets. This will help show your customers that you’re not just interested in sales, but also in the well-being of pet owners and their pets.
Ensuring Play While the Owner is Away
Pet owners hate to envision their pets home alone bored all day. Enter interactive toys. Automated ball launchers allow fetch-obsessed pups to play ball on their own, and electronic digging toys allow dogs to literally dig in to their natural digging tendencies without causing any damage to their owners’ home or yard. With a variety of options in the product line, these products encourage exercise—which is helpful to the more than 54 percent of pets that are overweight or obese in the U.S.—keep them stimulated, and out of trouble, and keep consumers satisfied that their pet is happy and active when they’re alone.
What should retailers do? Incentivize. Offer customers a free one-week trial of products like iFetch and iDig to help their pets adapt to the new activity.
Picking up a Pet’s Mess
Perhaps a cat owner’s biggest gripe is cleaning up their pet’s litterbox. Now there’s even technology to help out with that. Smart litterboxes are WiFi-enabled devices that auto clean, auto fill and connect to an app to help owners monitor box usage. Smart litterboxes truly are a pet-tech product that identifies a pet owner’s pain point and provides a simple solution.
What should retailers do? Promote the solution. Stock products like this at the front of the litter section and highlight the benefits of purchase: less mess, less cleaning and less worry. Showcasing the latest innovations that address your customers’ concerns paints a positive light on your store.
While this is just a small sample of pet tech products that have emerged in the industry, it’s a sure bet that this trend is here to stay. Incorporating innovation into your inventory and establishing your store as a knowledgeable resource for your tech-savvy customer base is a step in the right direction toward building brand loyalty, increasing profitability and staying competitive in the marketplace.
See pet tech and hundreds of other innovative products at WPA’s flagship event, SuperZoo. At this conference for pet retail professionals, you’ll find the latest in pet tech products all conveniently located at the New Product Showcase. SuperZoo 2019 will take place Aug. 20-22 in Las Vegas. For more information or to register, visit superzoo.org.
Jacinthe Moreau is the president of World Pet Association (WPA). Moreau has broad international experience in the animal health industry. Her career trajectory, which includes a variety of roles at companies such as Vetoquinol, Merial, Merck, VetSource and VCA Animal Hospitals, prepared her to lead WPA.