INSIDE INDEPET NOVEMBER 2015
A Newsletter for Indepet Shareholders, Staff, Wholesalers & Suppliers.
"Quality Pet Products, Huge Range at Low Prices"

BIGGER IS BETTER AT NORTHSIDE PET SUPERSTORE



Perceived size and competitive pricing is what pet owners look for in a pet store, according to Jason and Erica Kaup of Northside Pet Superstores in Adelaide, South Australia.
 
After working in the pet industry for some years, the couple took over a rundown pet shop about seven years ago – complete with boarding kennels for cats, birds and reptiles upstairs.
 
“Our first move was to expand the offering and bring the whole store up to date,” said Erica. “After our first 12 months, sales really started to boom and we were fast out-growing our premises.
 
“About four years ago, we had to move to this new outlet in Hillcrest which is about twice the size of the original store. It’s only about five kilometres away so we retained most of our customers.
 
“These days, size and pricing are what get people in the door - being a local is not really an issue here. We believe new customers are coming strictly on price.” According to Jason it’s the perception
of store size that counts, not actual size. “Do customers think we are cheaper than big box corporate? Maybe. Do they think we are cheaper than a small pet store? I’d say yes, definitely.

“The whole Bunnings phenomenon has probably shaped people’s views in this.
 
“But I think people will eventually start to see through the emptiness of the big box format.”
 
Jason believes the range of live animals makes Northside’s offer compelling and gave their big store a point of difference in the market.
 
“We are well known for our live animals range and our reptile offering in particular,” he said.
 
“I think people also like to know they can come here and meet the owner- operators and have a chat about their pets.”
 
While Jason manages the accounts and administration, Erica takes care of buying, merchandising, advertising and in-store training.
 
“We employ 10 staff and half of them are fulltime,” said Erica. “We try to offer reasonable hours and a bit of flexibility to make it attractive for people to work here.
 
“When we sell a companion animal, we encourage staff to get as much detail as possible from customers to incorporate into our loyalty program.
 
“Initially we weren’t going to set up a loyalty program but people really wanted to be part of VIP club of some kind so we created one.
 
“We are one of the only pet shops in Adelaide that does the whole lot; dogs, cats, fish, reptiles plus pet boarding facilities upstairs. We also offer a grooming service.”
 
Advertising & Promotion
While demand for pet food was generally strong, Erica said it would be a challenge for Northside to hold its share of the market – without the help of some targeted advertising.
 
“We advertise dog food quite heavily because that gives us the best response. “If you take Frontline at around $35, there’s not much interest because people only buy once every 3 months or so.
 
“But they have to buy dog food every 4-6 weeks, so it’s much higher on the shopping agenda and that makes them more price-conscious.”
 
The proprietors have been advertising on TV and radio every month for many years, often asking their customers for feedback to ascertain what works best.
 
“With TV and radio advertising, it’s really just trial and error. We also produce a monthly newsletter which is distributed via email.
 
“We offer product specials along with information about pet care and usually a list of the dos and don’ts of pet care for a given month. It’s a reminder that we’re always here to help.”
 
Indepet Membership
With all the competition coming from the corporates, the idea of joining some kind of independent group became quite compelling for the proprietors a few months ago.
 
“We were looking for a group that could support us as independents. The high calibre of the Indepet stores made it attractive to us.
 
“Being a Shareholder gives us transparency of trading terms; we can see exactly where the money goes.
 
“We are definitely getting better pricing since buying through Indepet.
 
“The Indepet catalogues, particularly with the customised front covers, have been good for our business.
 
“Customers can see our name on it and associate us with the wider Indepet network.
 
“We’re also conscious of the asset growth of our business and Indepet membership ought to help us there too by adding credibility to our brand name.”
 
Retail Expansion
Two years ago, the couple looked at opportunities to open a second pet care store, mainly to get some economies of scale.
 
“Our thinking was that having two stores would almost halve our unit costs hence our move into Welland in 2012.
 
“It was an established pet care store of almost 40 years with a similar demographic to here as it is only 20 minutes drive away.
 
“When you’re an independent, I don’t think you can really stop the growth.
 
“Growth is probably inevitable for any retailer that has its offer and market positioning right.
 
“Pet care is a growing market and I believe we have ample potential to grow further.
 
“There has been a decline in pet sales of late, which means demand for accessories may drop off at some point.
 
“However, the biggest opportunity for us is to take over a third store that’s run-down and turn it around like we did with our first two.”

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