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April 1, 2016

I took my own advice and wore comfortable shoes during last month’s Global Pet Expo (GPE), produced by American Pet Products Association and Pet Industry Distributors Association. Some of my colleagues took it a step further – literally – and brought an extra pair of shoes to change into once their feet were getting tired. But by the end of the day, everyone’s feet ached because GPE is a large show, and it just grows larger every year.

Show organizers said that if one were to walk every aisle, her or she would have walked over six miles. Organizers also touted there being over 3,200 booths and 5,800 buyers – a four percent increase over 2015.

On day two of GPE, a colleague told me their iPhone activity tracker app indicated he had walked over 10,000 steps and about five miles. Not surprisingly, I tracked roughly the same mileage. This became a novelty for me throughout the week and each day I found that I recorded about the same amount of steps and mileage.

On the opening day of the expo, I thought of all the attendees walking the show with their pets and about the types of activity tracking available for companion animals. Still being new to the industry, I had heard of a few options but did not realize the number and diversity of pet activity tracking systems on the market for retailers and their customers.

Going through a list of exhibitors published just before showtime, I counted 16 different vendors offering pet activity trackers. Through walking the show floor, I estimated there were at least two dozen vendors offering types of tracking capabiliy. Some, I noticed, offered GPS location only. Others tracked hydration, food intake, sleep and video blogging. Some offered cloud based storage for all that data collection.

Why is the last feature important to retailers?

Ecosystems are being built for pets, and their human companions. Retailers are destined to be a part of it. Here’s an example: Fido is being monitored for a health issue that requires a certain diet and medications. As a retailer connected to this ecosystem, you’ll be alerted when the owner needs supplies, supplements or foods. If your customer does not come to you for those items, you can go to them with reminders, coupons and services to comply with Fido’s health regimen. That’s just one example, and there are many more to come.

These high-tech tracking systems are all available now. Early adopters like millennials will be asking you about these products and services soon – if they haven’t already. Talk to your distributor or directly with the manufacturer to become an educated retailer of pet tech products and services. Even if you don’t carry them now, this could mean good revenue for you in the future.

All the best,

Allen Basis

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