The pet community thrives on connection. Whether it’s the intrinsic bond between people and pets or the modern supply chain that inextricably links retailers to distributors and manufacturers, any interruption can upset the stability and balance. Last year, the coronavirus pandemic impacted our normally stable industry in numerous ways, ranging from disrupting the supply chain and changing daily retail operations to nearly eliminating contact between retailers and distributors. The need was clear. In order to keep the pet community thriving, World Pet Association (WPA) quickly stepped in with WPA365—an on-demand marketplace that enables pet retail and service professionals to access the newest products, stay on top of the latest trends, and access free and discounted business services.
“Very quickly, we realized that COVID-19 not only dismantled the supply chain, but it also cut lines of communication between buyers and suppliers during a time we needed it most,” said Vic Mason, WPA president. “Everything we do at WPA is designed to unite the pet community, so we made it our mission to close that gap.”
In the past, industry events—including SuperZoo and Atlanta Pet Fair & Conference—provided a nexus for retailers to connect to distributors and manufacturers and access the latest marketing strategies, products and grooming techniques. However, the pandemic placed those important buying events on hold as well.
“The pet community was incredibly resilient during the early days of the pandemic and kept their doors open to their customers, despite some very real challenges, like customers stockpiling food and having to redesign their stores to promote social distancing,” Mason added. “What we heard from retailers was that they needed a resource that would enable them to communicate more easily with their suppliers and quickly source products. That was the genesis of WPA365.”
With WPA365, available at no cost throughout 2021, pet professionals can access education and marketing services, shop and explore digital booths, connect directly with top distributors and manufacturers, and download extensive product information. In quick succession, other pet businesses and nonprofits wanted to be part of WPA365, and they’re helping pet retailers with tools and resources that take their businesses to the next level:
- FetchFind provides training and education from customer service 101 and pet wellness to guidelines about how to operate safely and efficiently during and after the pandemic.
- OneBark offers its Store Locator and Product Data Catalog tool free, enabling retailers to announce available products and communicate with their local pet communities.
Retailers can benefit from these WPA365 features as well:
- 365Deals showcases exclusive products and pricing so retailers can obtain the lowest prices from WPA365 exhibitors.
- New Product Showcase features hard-to-find, trending products that WPA365 retailers can access directly from distributors.
- Brand Stories enables retailers to access the stories behind the manufacturers that their customers are interested in to drive a meaningful connection to their purchases.
This summer, live events will be making a comeback, with SuperZoo celebrating its return on Aug. 17-19. However, rather than disappearing with the return of in-person events, you can expect WPA365 to maintain its relevance.
“What we’ve learned is that we are all stronger with more connections and greater communication,” Mason said. “WPA365 is here to stay as a year-round resource to extend the benefits of SuperZoo and Atlanta Pet Fair & Conference so that retailers can stay connected to the community every day of the year.”
Retailers who are now forming relationships with exhibitors on the WPA365 digital platform can meet their reps in person at SuperZoo. Similarly, shops who find something their customers love at SuperZoo can stay in touch with specific distributors throughout the year on WPA365 to access special volume discounts, unique pricing and all the benefits of a trusted business partnership.
Registration for SuperZoo is now open. You can learn more and celebrate reconnecting with your colleagues at superzoo.org.
The World Pet Association (WPA) brings the pet world together so quality interaction and education between and among product suppliers and pet owners can create healthier, happier pets and a healthier, more productive pet industry. Founded in 1950, WPA brings thought leadership, innovative thinking and best practices to the pet industry, working to inform and educate the general public in order to ensure safe and healthy lifestyles for our animal friends.