Chewy.com wants to be your go-to source for home deliveries of pet products. Launched in 2011, the growing dot com business is now successfully competing with mega stores like PetsMart and online shopping sources like Amazon. After recognizing an opportunity in having pet product purchases like large bags of dog food or kitty litter delivered directly to pet owners' front doors, Ryan Cohen, one of the company's founders, came up with the brilliant idea of getting his foot in the door of the growing industry. In the last four years, Chewy has expanded from just three employees selling a mere 2,500 pet products to over 1,200 workers carrying more than 30,000 different items for cats and dogs. Not too shabby.
The home delivery scene has blown up over the last 10 years. Now, you don't have to live in cities like New York or San Francisco, where not everybody owns a car, in order to have the convenience of home delivery options at your beck and call. While in many respects Amazon led the charge in this from-your-mouse-pad-to-your-doorstep trend, businesses from grocery stores and just about anything else you can think of have gotten on board with it. Andrea Wolfe, Chewy.com's marketing director, says the company's ambitious views are to someday be the biggest pet retailer. Wolfe told the Sun Sentinel in Dania Beach, Florida, where the company is headquartered, "We want to have all the pet customers."
Personalized Marketing Touches
The directors and staff at Chewy are making it their mission to reach those lofty goals by adding personalized touches to their selling and marketing efforts. Since February of this year, staff members have been handwriting holiday cards that will eventually be sent out to roughly half a million customers. New patrons to the business also receive handwritten postcards to say thanks for the specific purchases they've made. For an even more personalized touch, Chewy takes the pictures they receive from pet owners sharing images of their dogs and cats and has 20 staff artists paint pictures of them. Take that, Amazon and PetsMart!
Pet Product Purchases
Chewy.com doesn't limit your shopping experience to just online purchases. While they want to be your computer to doorstep pet supply provider, they're savvy enough to realize that not everyone is tech oriented in their shopping patterns. So far, only about 5 percent of pet supplies are purchased online. That's why the company accepts call-in orders. At this point, besides the 70,000 square feet they lease in Florida, they have two or three distribution centers located around the country for ease of fulfilling those orders in a timely manner. They're located in Pennsylvania, Nevada and coming up in Indiana.
According to the American Pet Products Association, in 2015 consumers will spend roughly $60.59 billion on pet products that include food, medicine and grooming supplies. That's up from the $58.04 billion pet owners spent in 2014. Pet food alone is responsible for $23.04 billion of this year's projected spending. That's a little over a third of dollars spent and due in large part to the immense variety of pet foods now available and the marketing strategy many companies have undertaken of offering natural and organic products. If it's good enough for people, pet lovers feel it's good enough for their "kids" too.
If you're interested, Chewy carries all the top brands such as Blue Buffalo, Royal Canin and a variety of other American made foods and treats to choose from. Besides organics, you can also find grain-free and low-carb pet foods for animals on special diets — which is another increasing trend. As the pet industry continues to swell, we can hope to see a lot more companies doing whatever it takes to customize the consumer shopping experience with convenient options. Mobile groomers, dog walkers and obedience trainers that deliver their services to your door can already be found in abundance. It will be interesting to see what the next trend is.