1. What do you see as the key trends in the pet food sector today?
As always, key trends are mirroring the same trends in the human food sector. More people are looking to eat healthier, natural, or plant-based foods, and those that do inevitably look to buy healthier foods for their pets.
The same trends can be seen in the toy and accessory categories – consumers are more socially conscious than every before, meaning the care about where their products come from and the raw materials used to make them.
The sharp increase in pet ownership across the UK means that all categories will be important for the foreseeable future and that the sector will remain strong. However, the cost of living is on the rise so we may see shifts in spend due to inflationary pressures.
2. Which are the emerging product categories that are achieving sales growth ahead of the market?
In line with the key trends, the natural treats product category is seeing strong growth, as is the frozen food category.
The humanisation of pets was strong pre-Covid, and the mindset of seeing pets as members of the family has only increased since the pandemic. As such, we’ve seen a big increase for demand around occasions such as Easter and Christmas, not to mention the treats category.
3. What are the best opportunities for retailers to secure the necessary profit margins to keep their businesses healthy?
All products within Bestpets show the POR% that a retailer can expect based on the RRP. However, retailers should try and have a good balance between products that have a lower POR but sell quickly and those have very juicy POR but see slower or fewer sales.
Retailers can use their specialist knowledge to educate customers about products and in that process, encourage customers to trade up to products that not only offer better health benefits for the pet but also deliver a higher margin for the retailer.
4. What advice can you give on the most effective way for retailers to introduce new products into their stores?
New products should always be part of a window display and highlighted in store. For those retailers who have a website, ensure that you have an area dedicated to new products. We also suggest that retailers make good use of social media – shout about your new products and highlight promotions or discounts.
For new food products, especially treats, offering free samples is a fantastic way to engage with and entice customers. Retailers can contact suppliers directly to see if there are sampling packs available for them to use. Suppliers also usually support new products with instore POS, so this should be utilised by retailers too.
With the new generation of pet owners growing, consumer behaviour is changing and there might also be the opportunity to try different experiences such as tasting events.
5. How has Bestpets met the challenges in product sourcing and distribution arising from the pandemic and Brexit?
Good communication and working closely with our supply partners has been key. The Bestpets team continue to engage with suppliers to ensure the best possible product availability for our customers, while our depot teams have worked tirelessly to make sure deliveries were met as promised. We have focused on ensuring good stock availability, excellent customer service and ensured that our doors remained open for all customers.
6. What do you think are the most important things for retailers to focus on now that most of the pandemic restrictions have been lifted?
It’s important that retailers keep up the great rapport they have built with customers during the pandemic. That’s one of the big unique selling points for an independent retailer – the personal service. Retailers can use the personal relationships to ask about the health of a pet, remind owners about pet flea, tick & wormer treatments, recommend new products and celebrate special occasions.
To compete against the multiples and discounters, we would always recommend retailers pass on any promotional discounts to remain competitive within the marketplace. We know that some retailers do not like to stock big brand name products that are available in bigger stores, but we would say that these brand names do generate footfall. Once a customer is inside the shop, it’s an ideal opportunity to talk to the customer and encourage a switch in brand or a potential additional purchase that would not be possible in a multiple.
For those retailers who can offer a delivery service, we suggest that they do so as there is now an expectation of home deliveries.
7. Aside from the product range, what other forms of support is Bestpets able to offer retailers?
For pet retailers looking to leverage the support of a recognised brand and to access 15 additional bespoke promotions, we have the Bestpets Local retailer club. As the only pet industry wholesaler retail club, Bestpets Local is designed to drive footfall, raise the profile of independent stores through keen promotions, and impactful point of sale. Joining Bestpets Local ensures retailers can stay competitive and maximise profits.
8. How important is it for retailers to embrace technology, and in what ways is it helping Bestpets to achieve successful growth?
Bestpets introduced our app in 2019 which has been well received by retailers. Customers can check prices, determine stock availability, see promotions and check out new products on offer. Delivered customers can also place orders via the app, and we have seen a year on year increase in orders placed. The app also allows us to send information about offers and new products from both Bestpets and our suppliers directly to customers mobile phones.
Technology will continue to be important and we highly recommend retailers embrace it. Have a presence online and make use of social media to gain followers and drive repeat followers.
9. What do you see as the most important recent innovations that are going to drive change in the pet food market in the future?
In line with the continued trend of pets being a part of the family, pet supplements is a category worth keeping an eye on. Owners want their pets to be fit and healthy, and we have already seen this impact the treats category. Environmentally-friendly food packaging will also make an impact on choices consumers make.
Outside of food, tech will be on the rise too. Products such as pet trackers, and automated food/water/treat dispensers that work with apps for remote feeding and interaction will become more popular. Likewise, environmentally-conscious consumers will drive change and we will likely see a rise in eco-friendly products such as bamboo feeding dishes and compostable dog waste bags.
10. Can you share any details of Bestpets’ future plans and any exciting developments scheduled for 2022 and beyond?
There’s a lot going on at Bestpets; we’ve just introduced an exciting range of 20 new own label toys for cats & dogs, and some PMP that offer great value for money for both retailers and consumers, with more to follow soon. We’re expanding the Bestpets team in both head office and the sales team to allow us to keep working hard and delivering the very best for our customers.