In Petco’s latest initiative to deepen relationships with its customers, the pet retailer has opened a gourmet kitchen for dog lovers who think of their pets as their children.

Petco’s Latest initiative highlights the power of subscriptions for dog lovers

In Petco’s latest initiative to deepen relationships with its customers, the pet retailer has opened a gourmet kitchen for dog lovers who think of their pets as their children.

The kitchen in Petco’s New York City Union Square location, is the first in an initiative to bring human-grade food and transparency into pets’ diets.

“You can come in and see, smell, and touch the product that’s being made here in the store, and have full transparency on what’s going into your pet’s diet,” Nick Konat, Petco’s chief merchandising officer, told Business Insider.

In a bold move this May, Petco removed all food with artificial flavorings, colors, and preservatives, sales of which made up for $100 million of their annual $4 billion in sales. If customers were wondering how committed the brand is to their concerns and their pets’ wellbeing, Petco is certainly taking this opportunity to show them where the company’s priorities lie, and is showing retailers a great example of Relationship Commerce. Petco listened to the wants and needs of their consumers and listened, and in turn is making a decision that may seem costly now but will pay off when trust turns into repeat customers.

“We believe that pet parents… continue to shop with us because we offer personalized, high-touch customer service to every customer, every day, and in every interaction.” – Chewy

Pet retailers have often been on the forefront of Relationship Commerce. Plenty of subscription services have followed in the ultra-popular BarkBox’s wake (which has a 95% customer retention rate), delivering treats, toys, and other customizable pet goodies monthly. The pet industry is rife with relationship commerce opportunities because many of its customers already gravitate towards the same products, and are likely to buy a similar amount of merchandise each time they shop. Unless a pet develops different health needs, owners will likely buy the same food and treats over and over, replacing toys regularly as well as they get chewed up or lost. Subscription services are practically a no-brainer for pet owners who want to save time and keep their fur babies happy.

And a recent Ordergroove study found that across different petcare brands and multiple customer cohorts, buyers who sign up for subscriptions spend more.

Screen Shot 2019-06-13 at 1.13.28 PM

Recently, pet e-tailer Chewy went public after success following their innovative commitment to Relationship Commerce-driven business models. Subscription sales  make up 66% of their $3.5 billion in annual sales, and repeat customers tend to spend more than they did on their first purchase.

“We believe that pet parents… continue to shop with us because we offer personalized, high-touch customer service to every customer, every day, and in every interaction,” the company wrote.

Petco’s gourmet kitchen isn’t a subscription product–yet. But it illustrates the importance of owning and maintaining the customer relationship in retail. People will spend just about anything on their four-legged friends, and the easier you make it for them, the happier they’ll be.