Fortune favors the bold…
A year ago, I wrote what I hoped would be a thought-provoking article, titled 'RIP Pet Retail'. Today I write about a bold move made by a British pet retailer that I believe will be at the forefront of a new trend. This trend will see brick & mortar pet stores taking the initiative, by playing to their strengths and enhancing areas of their business that online simply can't copy. To set the scene; many times in the recent past, our global pet retail clients have pondered over how to engage customers and entice them to visit their stores and to have them keep coming back.
As the leading global manufacturer of fixtures for live animals in retail stores, we've been responding to this challenge for some years; "engage through the human connection with live animals", as this is something online businesses simply cannot compete with. We've worked hard to convince retailers to try something different, to create 'Retail Theatre' by making the live department more prominent, more accessible and engaging. I mean, who didn't enjoy visits to the Zoo when they were a child?
However, we understand why many of our clients have taken time to consider how best to implement change, as it can be complicated, expensive and time consuming, plus the live department often requires higher labour input.
2019 Time for Real Change
In the last few years we've helped several of our clients implement changes, which have been commendable, but ultimately just a little bit too safe to have the required impact! Well clearly 2019 is the year for brave moves!
Our long-standing British client, Pets At Home, who are not the largest of the global pet retail chains, but in terms of their progressive approach to Pet Retail, are certainly a major heavyweight, has made the boldest of moves that we've witnessed to date. I for one, am absolutely delighted with their forward-thinking approach and commend them for taking such a bold step forward.
Pets At Home has thrown away the rule book and started again by putting live animals front and centre as the major draw to bring customers in and keep them lingering longer. A fresh new approach has delivered a store concept that is highly engaging and encourages children to venture away from the addictive draw of the blue screen. Children are encouraged to truly engage with the animal department, through special touch points that only small people can access! There is also plenty of interactivity and information to help educate about the care of each pet but fear not, the well-trained store team will not let anyone purchase live animals on a whim! So much thought has gone into sponsoring interaction and it works well for adults and children alike.
Teamwork Really Does Make the Dream work
We were excited to work closely with the client and their extended team, which included talented people from so many different disciplines, who all came together to follow a very clear brief and deliver this amazing concept. The project was delivered in record time with an awe-inspiring level of excitement and intensity.
The Three EEE's
At the design stage many different modules of fixtures were created, which could then be assembled and installed in various combinations. I couldn't help but feel when I reviewed the CAD images, that whilst each element was striking in its own right, the overall effect was a little eclectic. Clearly, I am proud of the live animal fixtures and aquatic racks that we designed; however, every component of this store has been carefully curated and when they all come together it is absolutely stunning and the arrangement of eclectic modules creates a superb interactive retail experience.
Having worked with Pets At Home's for over two decades I can tell you they certainly live up to their mantra "Pets before profit". They have the highest of welfare standards, with no compromises being made and as we share those values too, it was challenging to make the animals more prominent, whilst still ensuring they have plenty of privacy and places to rest, but we managed to tick all the right boxes in the end. Oh, and just one other small matter, this entire remodel took place in a trading store!
I've honestly had a hard time trying to describe and summarise the overall effect with this new concept, so I am going to create this new tag 'Eclectic Experiential Excellence'.
My hat goes off to the Executive team at Pets At Home who decided to make some very brave moves with this transformation. They inspired their own internal teams, plus a wide group of specialist vendors to deliver their vision in a record time. They started with a very clear brief and a bold vision, which I hope I won't get in trouble for sharing; "Transform Pets at Home into the best pet care business in the world". I for one firmly believe they are on the right track!
We will all wait with baited breath to see how the consumer shops this concept, (early signs are looking very good from what I hear) but regardless of the end result, Pets At Home have to be given huge credit for stepping away from the usual safe designs and pushing the boundaries with this edgy and brave concept, one that I feel is world class and has set the bar at an all new high in Pet Retail, so who's up next?
CASCO Pet are global leaders and Pet Retail Experts. If you want to commission us to design custom live animal or aquatic fixtures for your store, please start by visiting www.cascopet.com