Beating Internet Retailers on Their Own Turf
By Mark Kalaygian
December 20, 2013

Small brick-and-mortar pet stores have a new weapon for their battle against Internet retailers. As reported in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, technological advances have made it easier than ever for small retailers to increase their visibility online.

According to the story, several mapping apps and online services—including Google—now allow retailers of all shapes and sizes to upload their floor plans, the layout of the shopping centers in which they are located, and even information about their product selection—all in an effort to make it easier for customers to find and shop their stores. What’s more, some of these apps and services also enable retailers to track trends in what types and brands of products their local customer base is looking for. And the best part is that these services often come free of charge.

Now, like any other business tool, the usefulness of these apps and services will depend on what the retailer puts into it. Pet store owners and operators must truly invest themselves in these type of online resources if they are looking for a game changer—and these services do have the potential to be just that.

As many experts note, the ability to marry convenient access to information (via the web) and immediate gratification in delivering product are the ones who will end up at the top. While many Internet retailers—Amazon, in particular—have gotten a huge head start on the former, they’re still trying to figure out the latter. Small, independent pet stores, on the other hand, have a big edge in the immediate gratification department. And with resources like these next-generation mapping apps and services at their disposal, these mom-and-pops should be able to make quick strides in providing the information that Internet shoppers are looking for.