Scott Arsenault, president of Ren’s Pets, which has more than 20 stores in Canada, explains the company's plan for future growth online.
Pet Product News: Tell us a little about the services your stores offer.
Scott Arsenault: Ren’s supports humane societies and rescues and foster groups and provides a $25 voucher for all pets that are adopted or fostered. Ren’s is also active with many cities and promotes responsible pet ownership with licensing programs—also providing a $25 voucher for every pet licensed. We will have a complete rollout of click and collect, which allows the customer to browse online and reserve items online to go pick up at the store level, by summer 2019. A new service that we are testing out in the Toronto market is auto ship. With our new web platform, it’s easy for customers to set this feature up and have their favorite food, treats and toys show up at whatever interval they need them to—they’ll never run out of food again.
PPN: What are some of the top-selling products for Ren’s Pets right now?
Arsenault: We take great pride in our sourcing of products and the fact that many of our vendor partners are from Canada, as we strive to be the store of the community. Too many to name, but if we’re talking about food it’s our top Canadian brands of Champion (Acana) and Petcurean (Go! and Now), and a leading North American supplier is Merrick. Big Country Raw and Iron Will Raw are two local brands within the raw food category that are seeing amazing growth in our stores with their multipack meal boxes. Some of our other top sellers are the Crumps’ Naturals sweet potato treats and Hero treat line. Also, the Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball is always a customer favorite! We really have something for all your pet needs.
PPN: What qualities unite your stores and are important to Ren’s Pets as a brand?
Arsenault: Passion has definitely fueled the growth! We have a young, dynamic team, and we’re excited to bring the Ren’s experience to more communities across the country. We have a saying that "We’re passionate about pets and the people they own!" Our store managers act like owners and lead their teams with constant encouragement and inspiration. Ninety percent of our managers have come up through the stores, starting as part-time associates and growing into amazing leaders. Our Ren’s "carry-out" culture is second to none. It’s important to us to make sure the customers feel welcomed, heard and special. Our team is there to greet them, help with trusted advice and then carry out their purchases—even when it’s minus 25! Ren’s also has a proprietary rewards program and our free food frequent buyer program as well as some great summer events like dock diving and huge tent sales. We like to stay connected to our stores and the team and always say the bigger we get, the smaller we want to act!
PPN: What industry trends have you been keeping your eye on most closely, and how are you responding to them?
Arsenault: Definitely the trend of raw feeding is continuing to explode as well as tech and cannabidiol (CBD) oil. We are going to built-in freezers now to accommodate the growth in raw, and, with our new website, a lot of the new tech options are going to now be available soon.
CBD products are still not available to sell in Canada, but we are watching it closely and keeping up with the legalities. We do have a lot of other supplement options including hemp, which has seen a resurgence.
We have embraced being an omnichannel organization, and we believe allowing the customer the option to choose how they want to shop, whether it’s in-store, online or on their mobile device, is critical to our ongoing success. Customers seek content and innovation; we want to be a trusted source for them!
PPN: What business challenge are you in the process of tackling?
Arsenault: As always, the challenge remains when companies grow as to how we keep the culture that’s made us a favorite of customers in the pet industry. Having a strong vision and mission statement and hiring the right people are key. Positive attitudes and staying open to new ideas are crucial—no idea is ever too crazy or off limits because it leads you down the path and gets you to that next great idea.
Operationally, the challenge for us is growing the online business in all the markets where we don’t have stores as delivering to homes in Canada is an opportunity for many retailers. We have been overcoming this by building some strategic partnerships with Canada Post and FedEx as well as exploring many unique options for delivery.
Get an inside look at Ren’s Pets in our gallery below.