A key message at IndePet’s 2023 Level Up Conference was educating retailers on how to deliver the best in-store experience.

Delegates heard from Ben Dessen and Richard Sheen from Kellyville Pets and Britney Westaway from Pet Destination about the methods they use to deliver the best in-store experience to their customers.

To open the session, Todd Clarkson, CEO of IndePet, spoke about identifying the customer’s expectation when visiting an independent retailer and how knowing that expectation can help stores perfect the in-store experience.

“We need to start thinking about what a customer’s expectations are when they walk into your store. I guarantee you that when a customer walks into your privately-owned, independent pet store, they’re not expecting the same as at a corporate store.

Clarkson highlighted the difficulties in competing online with large retailers, but how a good in-store experience can tie stores to their community.

“You become the place, that when a friend gets a new pet, they tell them to go visit your store because they know their pets, they know what they’re talking about. And that ties you to your community and it then positions you as an expert.”

The Kellyville Pets duo then took the stage to discuss how working together as independent pet stores can make the independent channel stronger and revealed some of the methods they implement at Kellyville Pets.

Ben Dessen, Retail Manager, Kellyville Pets

“We try to create an experience, which then makes us into a destination store. But I think, by far, the biggest point of difference is being able to sell pets. Some of them have a few fish tanks at the back, but that’s about it. This is one area where we can really dial it up and create a great in-store experience that they will never be able to compete with,” said Dessen.

Dessen and Sheen then spoke about the importance of having passionate and well-trained staff that fit into the culture of the store and touched on Clarkson’s previous point of integrating themselves into the local community, through holding educational events and masterclasses.

Westaway, Store Manager at Pet Destination, discussed some of the methods she uses to help motivate team members to increase productivity and how to develop relationships with customers to ensure repeat service.

Britney Westaway, Store Manager, Pet Destination

She then educated some of the members on how to best utilise the technologies available to help market their store, from Canva to TikTok.

“I love content creation. We have such awesome opportunities to take all types of content in our stores. It doesn’t always have to be about selling either, we have cute animals, fun products, and cool displays.”

Westaway also pointed to the fact that by creating content that isn’t always sales-driven, you can have a chance to reveal your personality and relate to the customer.

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