Connect with us


Online-only pet retailers and lingering effects from the pandemic — product cost, supply-chain issues and staffing — continue to challenge your ability to operate a profitable pet business. And many of you overcome by tapping into your indie spirit, which allows you to pivot quickly and think creatively.




38. What has been your biggest cost increase in 2021-22?

Inventory (including shipping)
Advertising and marketing
Utilities, transportation costs and taxes were top answers for “Other.” We feel ya!

39. Have you adapted in a creative way? Other than by simply raising your prices?

  • Purchase products locally and through Amazon. It can be cheaper than through distributors!
  • Since we also own a doggie day care and boarding kennel in separate locations, we give a discount to people who frequent all three businesses. It’s all about loyalty!
  • We have gone big with new pets. If you have a new pet and come into one of our stores, you walk out with tons of goodies and new friends. We want customers to feel like they cheated on us if they shop somewhere else — in a nice way.
  • Instead of raising prices on toys, we have started importing toys in bulk directly from China. By cutting out the distributors here in the U.S., we have been able to keep prices stable and raise profit margins.
  • One of the biggest challenges for customers today is finding the products that they need/want. We are running a marketing campaign that lets customers know that if they want it and we have it, we’ll hold it for them. Although this is something we have always provided, given today’s supply-chain constraints, it is something that resonates with the customer.
  • We added a “Raw”esome room” and have been selling way more fresh food ever since. The room looks so fancy that it intrigues shoppers who previously ignored the entire department.

40. Who is your biggest competitor?

And the award for Most Positive “Other” Answer in this survey goes to those who said you only compete with yourself. “While I pay attention to others offering my products and services, I really stay focused on my own productivity and how I can continue improving/growing.”

41. How do you stand out from your biggest competitor?

Products and services most often mentioned as “Other” answers aim to target your main competition, online-only retailers and service providers. Among the responses are custom treats and cakes, dock diving, a curated selection of locally made products, and services for unaltered pets. And while this falls under “Customer Service,” we love this answer: “We make ourselves extremely available in terms of store hours and what we will do for our customers. You can’t outwork us!”

42. What has been your biggest overall challenge in 2021-22?

Hiring and retaining staff
Supply issues with vendors
Cash flow
Increasing online competition
Keeping customers happy

43. Have you met the challenge in a creative way?

Around 37% of you still struggle with hiring and retaining staff. Among the creative ways you said you overcome are:

  • Continuing to be a satellite location for the grooming school so we can train our own groomers.
  • Taking advantage of a state worker training grant to increase the continuing education stipend for all employees, which my full-time dog trainers love.
  • One of our nicest, best customers wanted to start helping people, so we put her on the payroll. If she is gonna be here all the time, she might as well get paid.
  • Taking my staff on continuing education retreats so they know they’re valued.
  • Not expecting the same work ethic as 10 years ago. Allowing par performance and understanding that things that used to take one to three months now take six to nine months. Overall, lowering the bar has reduced manager stress.
  • Pulling in workers from different industries, who have strong work ethic but want more money. We hired an auto mechanic. He loves grooming cats.

Stressing the importance of brand and protein rotation has helped many of you overcome supply-chain issues — 36% of you say that has been your biggest challenge — and several of you work with brands and distributors to go beyond simply switching.

  • We have learned how to “buy sideways.” We go straight to the brand and tell them our issue (and usually we are big accounts for the brands), and they find product for us from stores that aren’t selling it.
  • We still order items from our distributor even if it shows zero availability, rather than waiting for the item to show as available. This lets them know that their fill-rate isn’t as high as they think!



NASC Media Spotlight

At first it was just an idea: Animal supplements needed the same quality control that human-grade supplements receive. But that was enough to start a movement and an organization —the National Animal Supplement Council — that would be dedicated to establishing a comprehensive path forward for the animal supplements industry. In this Media Spotlight interview, NASC’s president, Bill Bookout, talks to PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita about the industry today: Where it’s headed, what’s the latest focus and why it’s vital to gain the involvement of independent pet product retailers.

Promoted Headlines

Most Popular