Ralf Majer-Abele,
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The pet business in the digital age

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In an age in which, for many people, the smartphone even takes priority over their partner or parents, now is the time for retailers and manufacturers to engage with the digital transformation of their own companies. Digital isn't just an option; it is a must.
How this will unfold, and the challenges as well as the opportunities associated with it, formed the central topic at the International Pet Conference in Budapest. Over 180 visitors from more than 20 countries came to this industry event. In view of the many high-calibre speakers appearing and the fantastic networking opportunities on offer, they are not likely to have regretted their decision to attend.
The presentations returned repeatedly to the theme that digital is a big issue for most companies. Omnichannel is increasingly becoming the standard in retailing. It is not just the case that high street retailers are opening online shops; the example of Amazon shows that more and more e-commerce outfits are even getting involved in the bricks-and-mortar trade too. It should be interesting to see if the purely online player Zooplus will go down this route in the next few years. "It is not a priority for us at the moment," commented Andrea Skersies, CMO of Zooplus, in Budapest. Let's wait and see!
Not many of the retail companies giving presentations at the International Pet Conference were keen to reveal information about online sales. However, the comment by Rafael Martinez-Avial, CEO of the Spanish pet store chain Tiendanimal, that online sales already accounted for half of his company's earnings came as a surprise. He confidently asserted that Tiendanimal was thus Spain's market leader in both online and speciality retail in the pet supplies segment. That is something that other retailers can only dream about!
Many market researchers and retail experts believe that online and offline will merge into one sooner or later, even in the pet product sector. People already shop for their goods as they please: if they are in a hurry or looking for a bargain, the Internet is the channel of choice for many consumers. If on the other hand they have time to browse around town and enjoy a shopping experience, then high street stores are the preferred destination. Systems such as Click & Collect create a…
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