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These Two Things Are Key to Battling Big-Box Stores and Web Giants

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UNLIKE OTHER RETAIL categories experiencing change at a rapid pace, the pet industry has remained stable and prosperous, growing an average of 5.7 percent a year for the last seven years. To keep up the momentum, Hubba researched and produced a white paper, “The Curated Future: Why Less Selection, Not More, Will Be the Defining Retail Trend in 2018,” which explores the different ways that small businesses can grow and continue to attract new customers. Two of the key findings are that pet businesses will need to focus on product curation and to leverage technology to continue to prosper.

Product Curation

Quality will become the defining trend as consumers choose to purchase from businesses that offer a curated retail experience, rather than those that simply offer the most product.

Historically, consumers have had a ton of options for buying product. Technology and social media have created the ability for consumers to access brands and products anywhere, anytime, so it’s critical that retailers stay customer-focused and curate products across many categories that consumers will love.

Pupjoy is a Chicago-based subscription service that has incredible boxes for pet parents. Curation is a key part of its strategy — its mission is to create a wonderful experience every time a customer opens a Pupjoy box. Here’s what Hello Subscription had to say: “We really love Pupjoy’s curation criteria, because we don’t have to worry about the ingredients in a treat Pupjoy sends us, and the toys are always high quality too […] we think that their careful selections really distinguish this box from the rest!”

Small businesses will have to create a shopping experience that inspires trust, and, in turn, will encourage consumers to make repeat purchases.


The need for a curated product selection and retail experience won’t be limited to stores. Service-led companies like groomers and doggie day cares will need to make selling products to their already captive audience a key part of their business model. Essentially, these businesses will need to convert the trust that pet parents have in their services into sales of carefully selected pet products, turning that trust into a form of currency itself.

Leveraging Technology

After surveying buyers on how they look for new products, Hubba found that 75 percent of the methods they use involve no digital technology whatsoever.

With the number of brands that are flooding the market right now, retailers will struggle to source new products using old-school methods. Buyers are beginning to seek out digital services that they can trust to cut through the noise and make buying decisions that will resonate with their customer. Whether you’re a classic retailer or a service-led company, curating thousands of new products each week will be a near impossible task without the help of technology.

Independent retailers will need technology to help consolidate their power and improve their economies of scale. Using technology, retailers will also seek each other out to increase buying power, get better margins and optimize shipping terms. Combined, small businessess will have bigger buying power than a single large retailer.


In an industry where the love of pets takes center stage, product curation positions the retailer as an invaluable partner to the pet parent. Armed with technology, retailers are going to be able to bring product curation and retail experiences faster, more efficiently and profitably. You can read Hubba’s white paper, “The Curated Future: Why Less Selection, Not More, Will Be the Defining Retail Trend in 2018,” at



P.L.A.Y. Media Spotlight

At P.L.A.Y. — Pet Lifestyle & You — toy design is definitely a team effort! Watch PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita and P.L.A.Y.’s Director of Sales Lisa Hisamune as they talk about the toy design process, the fine-tuning that makes each toy so special and why every P.L.A.Y. collection is made with independent retailers top of mind.

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