Through a series of acquisitions and new product offerings, Petco is making a concerted effort to stave off competition from retailers like PetSmart, Amazon, and young e-commerce pups such as Bark and Co.Where repeat deliveries to pet owners form the backbone of any retail strategy — the purchase habits around dog food, for example, typically occur like clockwork — that revenue has become far less reliable. Dogs might be loyal; today's consumers are anything but.
"Products can be bought anywhere at any time," Brock Weatherup, Petco's EVP of strategic innovation and digital experience, told Digiday. "The question for us, and what our focus has been through our acquisitions is, how do we get people to participate with the Petco brand 24/7, all days of the year, and not just because they ran out of food?"
Weatherup's own startup, PetCoach, was acquired by Petco in April 2017. The subscription service offers "vet-curated" products (it's unclear if they try the food themselves), expert support, and educational tools.
In July, Petco launched their first physical store for PetCoach service in San Marcos, California — $9-per-month earns pet owners free veterinary visits, discount merchandise, and individual training.
Petco set a goal for 1,000 subscribers by the end of 2018. They've already doubled that number, and now expect to reach 4,000 members by year's end. “It’s a learning platform for us to understand how pet parents want to engage with a partner, not just a retailer,” Petco CMO Tariq Hassan said.
By engaging customers through a Relationship Commerce strategy that anticipates, and exceeding customers' needs for a full suite of products, Petco has found a viable strategy for creating real loyalty.
By engaging customers through a Relationship Commerce strategy that anticipates, and exceeding customers' needs for a full suite of products, Petco has found a viable strategy for creating real loyalty. Until they can start marketing directly to dogs, cats, and the rest of the animal kingdom, that will have to suffice.