Seeking Synergy: Take Advantage of Brand, Distributor Relationships

By Ashley Carestia//March 1, 2024//

Seeking Synergy: Take Advantage of Brand, Distributor Relationships

By: Ashley Carestia//March 1, 2024//

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By every metric, the pet industry represents one of the most lucrative opportunities for retailers and brands. 

Savvy retailers know that who they purchase their products from is the secret weapon to scoring competitive pricing, accessing product knowledge, and making smart purchasing decisions. 

Retailers today are pressed by consumers to have an ever-broadening array of products available to them. Having them all available is difficult, but meeting customer demands is increasingly important as there are more places that consumers can get products. Distribution provides ready access to a broad array of products that they otherwise wouldn’t have to meet those consumer demands. 

According to Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA), their distributors rely on healthy pet specialty stores as the direct link between products and consumers.  In turn, independents in particular should take advantage of the essential support their distributors provide to help them sell more and improve profitability. 

What are the values for retailers in working with large distributors? 

Inventory Management: Retailers can order quantities they can turn, rather than ordering a six-month supply because of manufacturers’ minimums. This makes running lean and profitably a reality.  

One-Stop-Shopping: The average distributor stocks more than 12,000 SKUs from more than 200 manufacturers.   

Market Information: Distributors are in constant touch with market activities, trends and prices. They can offer retailers advice on management issues and keep them apprised of industry news. 

Merchandising: Distributors bring in point-of-purchase materials to help retailers maximize sales and efficiently use space in their stores. 

Jodalee Tevault, owner of Pixie Sticks Dog Boutique said, “The biggest thing I love about working with a distributor like Faire is that our orders interface with our POS (point of sale) system. When we work directly with a brand, we have to enter everything in which takes a lot more time but sometimes working directly with a brand you can get better pricing. I also have a distributor rep which is nice because she keeps me in the know and gives us samples to try before we buy. I think no matter which direction you go you should always try to create a relationship directly with the brand and really understand their products to help you better sell it.” 

The values of working directly with a brand create “brand and retailer synergy.”  

By collaborating, brand manufacturers and retailers can ensure a positive customer experience, track the sales funnel to see how customers arrived at the product, and capture the sale in the most convenient location for the customer. Collaboration with retailers and the creation of brand synergy across all purchase channels boosts revenue for both manufacturers and retailers. These alliances pave the way for brand loyalty and repeat purchases, which benefit both parties.  

Many brands actually manufacture and distribute their own products. This helps them cut costs since they do not need to rely on outside suppliers as much and gives them more control over quality and pricing. Ultimately, it allows them more flexibility in how they serve their customers.   

Manufacturers and retailers are even expanding their collaborations by investing together in new ventures. Companies that broaden the scope of collaboration reap a variety of benefits, including increased promotional effectiveness, inventory costs, product assortments that better align with the retailer’s customer needs, and extra funds to reinvest in the demand-driving in-store activities.  

Retailers agree that the manufacturers who have chosen to be transparent in their retailer partnerships— sharing insights and opportunities, aligning on metrics, and seeking collaboration outside of traditional commercial areas—have earned the trust of retailers and, as a result, outperformed their peers.  

Wholesaling with manufacturing capabilities offers several advantages to retailers compared to traditional wholesalers. Brands can control the entire production process, allowing them to maximize efficiencies and reduce costs. Additionally, they are not limited in what products they can offer and have the capability to customize items according to customer demand. Furthermore, working directly with a brand allows them to build better relationships with their retailers since they provide a unique product that cannot easily be found elsewhere.   

Christina Calautti, owner of Speck’s Pet Beverly Hills says, “There are always pros and cons with both! I enjoy working with bigger distributors because it’s a more seamless process. But at the same time, I do love working with brands directly because you have that personal touch and can even get creative with them in the process with new ideas and pitching concepts back and forth.” 

Bottom line, while having big distributors to facilitate a seamless process, often with faster ship times, the personal relationship with a brand seems to hold most value to retailers creating a trusting partnership and the flexibility of cost and unique products. 


A successful fashion model for 25 years, Ashley Carestia also is founder/CEO of Bark Fifth Avenue, a luxury retail boutique and brand. She has earned the respect of her colleagues through arduous work and dedication, being awarded the Small Business of the Year Award by the Atlanta Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Women of Influence award from Pet Age and Entrepreneur of the Year by Women in The Pet Industry.