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Being a Technology Resource

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Technology trends are booming in popularity in the pet space for a good reason. They make life easier, help us streamline routines, reduce stress and maximize each minute of the day.

Take into consideration that 90 percent of pet owners surveyed by Petfinder.com last year said they consider their pet a family member and three out of four feel guilty and worry about leaving pets home alone while at work or traveling and you find a pet-centered customer base that is looking for technology that not only makes life easier, but also helps keeps pets safe, healthy and happy, even when we can’t be at home.

Driven by innovation, increasing affordability and consumer demand, high-tech gadgets and services deliver peace-of-mind solutions to pet lovers that can have a positive effect on their pet’s health. Pet retailers have an opportunity to become a technology resource to their customers.

Interestingly, companies not traditionally known for catering to pets and their people are recognizing the huge marketing opportunities in reaching the pet owner audience, and are finding ways to position their state-of-the-art products and services in pet-centric ways.

One year after launching XFINITY Home, a broadband and cloud-based home automation service available to Comcast subscribers, customers shared stories with the company about how they use home automation as a solution to stay connected with their pets, in addition to their home and family. As a result, Comcast is marketing the service directly to pet owners where their service is offered.

Retailers take note. If large companies like Comcast are marketing high-tech gadgets to pet parents, why shouldn’t you? Make pet care more convenient for your customers by offering them automated and technology driven products for their homes and pets. If a customer walks in with a smartphone in hand, you can be sure they’ll embrace any pet technology that will simplify their lives.

For example, the customer purchasing that 20-pound bag of premium pet food in your store might also benefit from an automatic feeder to manage their pet’s portions and feeding time.
In addition to automatic feeders, high-tech products can also include, treat dispensers and water fountains as well as automatic litter boxes that clean themselves, toys that play with pets, like FroliCat, GPS devices to track pets’ location and activity, like Tagg–The Pet Tracker, lighted or glow in the dark collars, like Glowdoggie and even nano-technology based beds, apparel and accessories, like dgspetproducts.com.

Here are a few simple tips retailers can implement to spotlight high-tech solutions into your retail pet business.

Consider creating a pet technology section in your store. Having a specific, designated area to highlight new technology driven devices and products all in one place. This can be more effective than having these items spread categorically across the store.

Request vendor support for demos and employee education. Electronic pet product manufacturers such as PetSafe provide ongoing retail support and training.

Allow staff to sample and use products themselves at home. This way they can speak first hand to the conveniences and easily show customers how to assemble or operate them.

If you have an in-store pet, have them wearing or using the products. Having working products on the floor helps the customer envision how they’d be used by their pet.

Market your pet tech products to your customer base using technology yourself. People who embrace social media and use smartphones or tablets will be more likely to want to know about high-tech pet solutions.

- Kristen Levine, president and founder of Fetching Communications

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