Retailing, as the popular saying goes, is all in the details.
The retail segment changes fast. Being particular about the details of your retail business directs your focus on understanding your core customers, their needs and demands, and on your brand’s competency.
The same retailing principles apply no matter what market you are in. However, the similarity stops when you figure out your niche as a brand.
The pet care segment is a non-traditional retail segment for some. But for Pet Lovers Centre, the largest pet care chain in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, it invested not only in the development of quality pet care products but also in its retail efficiency.
Here are four strategies that have been the key to its growth over the years:
1. Be a market leader.
Pet Lovers Centre was born from a simple family business. It started around the time when pet ownership was not as widespread as it is today and there were only a few pet stores. But despite this, the Ng brothers shared a common dream to create Singapore’s first one-stop-shop for pet care needs. With this mindset, they invested time and resources in developing the retail concept.
The Ng brothers' “passion over trends” approach ensured customers quality care and, by this, they gained the trust of their customers. While the pet care industry was still in its infancy 43 years ago, they spearheaded their own research and development into pet product innovations. They adapted products originally meant for humans into comfort products for pets, like turning car cushions into cat baskets and household carpets into scratch pads for cats.
Singaporeans were blown away by the series of firsts created by Pet Lovers Centre—first to import dry dog food; first to sell anti-flea and tick shampoo and nutritional supplements for pets; first to supply dry dog food to Singapore’s police and army dog units; and the first to have a bakery solely for pets.
2. Back-end is as important as the front-end.
To look beautiful on the outside, one must be more beautiful on the inside. A successful retailer must have the best-in-class retail management system to upgrade all its processes, products, people, and even its customer service for maximum satisfaction delivered.
As a market leader, Pet Lovers Centre promises the widest range of pet care products at the utmost convenience. Watching over thousands of SKUs (stock keeping units), Pet Lovers Centre knows that it takes more than a basic FIFO (First in, First Out) policy to make this retail business work—which is why it created a warehouse and home delivery technology to support its more than 95 stores across Asia.
All these systems are made in-house, under the mentorship of the second generation of the Ng family. With their proven backgrounds in marketing and industrial engineering, they have perfected the art of creating an efficient system tailor-fitted for the brand’s mission to translate the love and passion into highly rewarding, loving, and fun experiences for both the pets and pet owners.
3. Explore multiple formats.
In a fast-paced society, retail stores are needed for the convenience they provide. Value is critical for a customer-centric brand, and it is more than the location or the price. Retailers must introduce multiple store formats to meet the customer valuables. Pet Lovers Centre is one of the first in Asia to incorporate this in their system by creating a meta-market for pet lovers such as retail stores and retail stores with clinic, pet safari, and home delivery. Through these formats, the pet store chain does its service while still prioritizing the customer’s time.
4. Stay visible.
A strong brand is a brand with strong visibility and customer recall, which is why it is important to maximize all forms of customer experience whether offline or online. Omni-channel is a true game-changer for the world of retail because it makes things easier and convenient for both seller and buyer. Pet Lovers Centre strives to achieve this and imbibe their strong market leadership through exclusive partnerships with known celebrities in the pet care category, like Cesar Millan from “The Dog Whisperer” and Jackson Galaxy from “My Cat From Hell.” They also let their customers know what they are offering through platforms like the Pet Lovers magazine and their newly introduced mobile app.
It is not enough to patiently wait for success to visit. One must commit to action for progress to start to excel and level up towards international recognition.
Pet Lovers Centre is currently looking for partners in the Philippines via master franchising. U-Franchise Sales and Management is holding an international master franchise business matching with leading Singaporean brands on Thursday, May 12, 2016. To know more about how you can get an international franchise brand, contact U-Franchise Sales and Management at (+632) 634-0586 or email franchising[at]ufranchiseasia.com.
Chris is the senior vice president for marketing and strategy of Francorp Philippines; president of U-Franchise Sales & Management; and chairperson and director for special projects, ASEAN integration-Philippine Franchise Association.