What a great time to be in the Pet Industry, just as we are all decompressing from our time at Global 2022 and thinking about the future. There were noticeable changes from years previous, the amount of focus on environmentally friendly goods being one; treats and tech are exploding in popularity, and the time we had to chat seemed to pass extremely fast this year.
As I walked the show floor the idea for this article hit me hard and fast. There is always so much to learn and rethink, below are the four things I learned at Global Pet Expo 2022.
1. Organizations Matter
Without organizations like APPA , WPA, PIJAC - now called the Pet Advocacy Network and much of the behind the scenes important work that needs to get done would never happen.
Organizations are important. The brightest minds in the pet industry gather to discuss the challenges and solutions to the most pressing problems in our industry. Did you realize these organizations helped keep countless pet stores open during the pandemic? Tireless work. They helped small businesses navigate the complicated applications for debt relief, paycheck protections; they helped set policies and standards for pet and human health and dispel rumors around pet treatment options for COVID-19. They advocate and help us grow, they find the problems and lead us toward solutions.
A few years ago, our own management team decided to start participating more actively in organizations. Ones that fit with our values and goals. We understood that without participating we have no voice in shaping the future. The pet industry is hitting a transformational time. To come out of these changes successfully we need a wide and diverse set of voices participating in these organizations.
We’re happy to announce that after years as a member, Savina Singh, our CEO, is now an APPA Board Member and is excited to be a voice for the 2000 Independent Pet Retailers who participate in our ecosystem.
There are new and there are iconic organizations. I encourage you, retail pet shop owner, to find the organizations that align with your store and future vision. I, myself, have joined the advisory board of a new one called Indie Pet, they’re cool, all about retail.
After talking with everyone at Global it seems we survived the worst of the pandemic, but to many it was the help of our industry’s organizations that kept them going.
2. E-commerce Needs Better Representation
We have all seen the numbers over the last few years, e-commerce is slipping. At the Global retail tour we discussed how Amazon and Chewy dominate in accessories and food. While it’s true Independent Retail has advantages that these two mega-stores cannot replace, there are legitimate concerns about the monopoly-like control they have in the industry.
What was not addressed at Global is the reality of working with Amazon. They are hiking fees, aiming for industry dominance, usurping factory-direct relationships, and profitability on this platform is waning. They erode brand integrity and retail’s ability to maintain margins. Monopolies need to be broken up.
The same goes for Chewy. Seller’s margins are evaporating with all the Ad Costs required to run a successful program on their platform. This approach kills direct-to-consumer sales for brands that want to participate on Chewy and operate their own sales site because, “Acquisition costs are too high” to have a profitable sales funnel.
For these reasons and more, we have taken the bold step of not having JoJo Modern Pets’ brands listed or sold on Amazon or Chewy. We want to preserve uniqueness for our retail customers.
Stores should not have to price match with corporations who don’t see or care of the damage they leave in their monolith wake. The rise of wholesale ecommerce, NFTs and our industry’s participation in the Metaverse were discussions that were all absent from this show. A big let down for those paying attention to the future.
3. The Bowl and Innovation
The level of innovation seen at this year’s show was exciting. Like a thrill in your chest. The materials, colors, safety, usability, eco-aware, things for the most primped pets to the rugged outdoor dogs, there was innovation everywhere. But sometimes it's the most basic, un-celebrated workhorse in our homes that’s due for attention and upgrade.
The classic dog bowl. It holds food or water and gets the job done. Ugly? Maybe. Practical? Sure. Problem solving? No.
The bowls I saw for sale have some serious design flaws. The kind of bowls found loaded onto the shelves of retailers like Dick’s or Sierra’s. They look beautiful but don’t actually function or solve legitimate issues experienced by pet owners and their pets.The depth of the bowl is often too deep for a dog’s snout, they strain their necks and have greater difficulty eating and digesting. The width of the bowl matters for dogs with long ears or beards, they’ll make a mess.
I saw it’s time to maintain the basics. The regularly abused, dog-food bowl. Over the last 10 years we have positioned ourselves as a leader in feeding supplies. We have done 100+ styles of bowls in every color, texture, laser cut, depths and patterns. They’re beautiful, lovely to have in your home. We do take into consideration those issues I mentioned before.
I love the innovation and gadgets and the ROI that comes back from those high margin products. We have to remember our basics, stay attuned to the average daily life of pet ownership and care. We must focus on business, margins, product rotation but above all is to provide pet owners with solutions.
4. Inventory & Warehousing
One common theme I heard repeatedly was, The Shipping Crisis.
Maintaining adequate inventory and warehousing is becoming a big concern for almost all of the companies I spoke to. Labor shortages plus increased material and storage costs, mean a three-person team managing a warehouse isn’t as cost effective as it once was. Our solution is to provide retailers the opportunity to pre-buy inventory from our containers so they know what is coming and how much they can sell.
Many brands are asking us not only to be their sourcing provider but also the manager of their inventory and help ship their products directly to stores. We are set to increase warehouse capacity by another 20,000 square feet to help our customers build, ship, pick and pack their products direct to consumers and stores.
We have reset our lines and have new products for a new generation of buyers. To overcome a crowded pet space sellers need to be different.
Follow us on your favorite social channels, email us Sales@jojomodernpets.com
Call us at 1-855-226-5656
Or come visit us in person in Chicago, Illinois.
Looking forward to seeing you all at SuperZoo (Booth 5666) in August.