Is PetSmart barking up the right/wrong tree with same-day delivery?

Discussion
Photo: PetSmart
Nov 08, 2016
George Anderson

PetSmart, the largest pet products and services retailer in the U.S., is the latest retailer to get into the same-day delivery fray. The chain announced yesterday that it would offer same-day and customized scheduled deliveries to customers in 17 major metropolitan areas across the country.

The same-day delivery service comes with a $7.99 service fee and is currently available in Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orange County, CA, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle. Later this month, it will be expanded to Boston, Dallas, Houston, New York, Northern New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Yonkers, NY. Delivery is being handled the third-party service Deliv. PetSmart currently operates approximately 1,477 stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

When shopping on PetSmart.com, customers can set deliveries to arrive within a few hours of ordering or up to two days later. The new delivery service was announced as part of the launch of the company’s newly “re-engineered” website that runs on the cloud. The site uses responsive design optimized for mobile to offer the same shopping experience across devices.

The new site includes an improved search function and an in-store inventory function that enables customers to see if a desired product is in stock before they head out for the local PetSmart. The retailer has also developed a store associate ordering system so, in the case of an out-of-stock, front line employees can order a product online and ship it directly to the customer’s home for free.

“Leading retailers are strategically differentiating themselves through customer-centric user experiences that both define the brand and meet the dynamic expectations of today’s digitally savvy consumers,” said Brendan Witcher, principal analyst with Forrester Research, in a PetSmart press release. “PetSmart’s move to better align the commerce experience with each individual’s unique shopping journey shows they are putting the customer at the center of their strategy.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is same-day delivery becoming a necessity for retailers looking to demonstrate an organizational ability to serve the needs of today’s demanding customers? Do you think same-day delivery will appeal to existing PetSmart customers while helping to attract new ones?

Braintrust
"Same-day delivery is a benefit to any vertical where it won’t cannibalize in-store sales, particularly product discovery."
"I just don’t get this “need” for fast delivery unless you were getting a heart transplant."
"What may have more customer value would be free delivery to senior citizen pet-owners who have limited mobility and can’t handle a 40 pound bag..."

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9 Comments on "Is PetSmart barking up the right/wrong tree with same-day delivery?"

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Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

Same-day delivery is a benefit to any vertical where it won’t cannibalize in-store sales, particularly product discovery.

Many pet store items are essentially CPG, such as food and cat litter, so for busy customers that need refills this is clearly a convenience for those willing to pay the service fee. Shopping for that special toy, a bed or a new harness is a little different because of the personal nature of those items, so they may not be a good fit and still predicate shopping trips. Ultimately consumers will find a balance of how to use the service.

The rest of the detail mentioned here sounds like a press release — responsive website, improved search, associate ordering — all old news and a given for any contemporary retailer and not worthy of reporting.

Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

Most of PetSmart’s customers will not avail themselves of same-day delivery, but it’s good to know that it’s available. I also like management’s moves to clean up their website and empower employees to order out-of-stock merchandise for free delivery to customers’ homes. This is what connectivity and smart customer service are all about and, if executed properly, should give PetSmart a strategic advantage vis-à-vis its competition.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Same-day delivery is important in those merchandise categories that can have a sense of urgency associated with the product. Pet food can be one of those categories if the pet owner inadvertently ran out. Pet owners don’t let their pets go hungry! It won’t be for everyone, especially because there is a justified premium associated with same-day delivery. (Few consumers actually “need it now,” although they may want to have it now.) Usually what attracts new customers is the product assortment, the way one (and one’s pet) is treated in the brick-and-mortar location, the ease of shopping and, finally, price.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

Bob, your comment about how a place treats your pet reminds me of something I learned a long time ago. If there’s an occasion where an appreciation gift is appropriate, I always try to buy the person either something for their kids or something for their pet. That is valued and remembered much longer than your typical corporate gift. Of course that requires you do a little research to make sure your gift fits. We’ve had dinner guests who instead of, or in addition to, bringing the usual bottle of wine will bring a toy for the dog. I couldn’t tell you anything about the wine brought last weekend, but I can tell you where every dog toy came from.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

I am a pet lover and my pet is a priority in our lives. With that said, there is little at PetSmart that would create urgency to me. If we have inadvertently run out of dog food (which, by the way, would NEVER happen) we would likely opt to feed him people food until we could get to the store.

Glad to see that Petsmart offers the service but I don’t see it as a game changer. Just a nice to have. There may be a few takers but i wouldn’t anticipate a lot.

For my 2 cents.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

I thought about cooking for the pet, “after” I wrote my comment! LOL.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

“My same-day delivery is faster than your same-day delivery!” Sounds like more schoolyard bragging!

I just don’t get this “need” for fast delivery unless you were getting a heart transplant. If you haven’t fed your dog for a few days because you ran out of food, go down to the store and buy the poor thing some food! Second, give the dog to someone smarter and more caring than you. I’m with Lee. Our dog Blu lacks for nothing. Our big bag of dog food is delivered about a week before we need it — for free.

This is just a big company with Amazon-envy playing “me too.”

Stu Conroy
Guest
9 months 11 days ago

We’ve been looking at logistics requirements and still struggle to see the obsession with same-day delivery. Having said that we didn’t think we needed an iPad five years ago and if we order something that is not next-day we get anxious and get cold sweats.

What products need to be same-day apart from perhaps pharmaceuticals or groceries? I struggle to believe that a pet owner wouldn’t have something in their cupboard that would help them get by and relieve their angst and anxiety at needing to get pet food the same day. We’re going down a route where it will be difficult for any sort of patience and anticipation — where we all need pills to calm our nerves if we run out of a product.

A UK comedian pointed out a few years ago our dependence on things that we take for granted. We can get live pictures beamed from around the world to an HD screen in our hand but if we lose our internet connection for a fraction of a second we’re disgusted at all things technology-based. We will reap what we sow. Next-day delivery is fine for stress levels.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

I have a hard time believing that same-day delivery will attract new customers for PetSmart. We live in a nano-second world where as consumers we expect immediate gratification, so same-day delivery will always be perceived as a good thing — not necessarily one that has real value. What may have more customer value would be free delivery to senior citizen pet-owners who have limited mobility and can’t handle a 40 pound bag of dog food.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Same-day delivery is a benefit to any vertical where it won’t cannibalize in-store sales, particularly product discovery."
"I just don’t get this “need” for fast delivery unless you were getting a heart transplant."
"What may have more customer value would be free delivery to senior citizen pet-owners who have limited mobility and can’t handle a 40 pound bag..."

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