Until a few years ago, India had only a handful of pet shops run by people who knew very little about pets. It was just another business for them. That market scenario is changing fast.
Online and down the road
Stand-alone and chain stores now have impressive interiors and qualified staff to cater to the growing number of pet lovers. The expansion of brick and mortar has also been fuelled by an increasing number of veterinarians opting to specialise in small rather than large animals.
But it is the internet and mobile revolution that has led to a completely new retail scenario. The availability of pet products online spiked quickly in India. Besides giants like Amazon, there are also home-grown players like DogSpot and Flipkart, now the largest Indian e-commerce company.
Their high online sales are not only competing with the smaller pet e-retailers but have also expanded the total customer base.
The young generation is particularly attuned to shopping online. Rana Atheya set up DogSpot: “Being the first mover had some advantages but it is challenging to make it financially viable unless you educate the customers. We have come a long way now and things have improved. Suppliers work more efficiently and transparently and many brands have dedicated resources for e-commerce sales.”
Veterinary clinics are now one of the most important retail channels. Initially they stocked just a few products. According to an industry expert, “They had perhaps two shelves for pet products ten years back – today half their clinic displays pet merchandise. They have taken veterinary practice and services as far as they can, and are now offering much more general petcare. It is a win-win situation for pet owners.”
On the other side of the retail spectrum, upmarket pet shops have expanded their product range and retail space. Glenand India is an example, and probably the oldest. It has four good-sized shops in Bengaluru, Karnataka. Prithivi Jayakaran explains: “We plan to expand to other South Indian cities. The main source of revenue for any pet store is pet food, and the number of international brands coming to India has contributed to the growth in pet retailing.”
Local chains are flourishing
About ten years ago, Rhys De Costa could not find suitable products for his Rottweiler dog so he set up his first store - 79 The Pet Stop. Now he has eleven stores across Goa and is expanding fast. By the time you read this, he may have opened his thirteenth store.
Just Dogs is the brainchild of Ashish Antony, a certified K-9 Specialist from the Police Dogs Centre in Holland, and operates out of Ahmedabad. The company has 22 stores in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Vadodara, Rajkot, Surat, Patna, Indore, Mumbai, Pune and Thane – eighteen of them franchises.
Heads Up For Tails stores belong to Rashi Narang Design and sell products under the Huft brand. They have fourteen stores in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore and four more in the pipeline. Rashi: “We are keen to grow this slowly, taking the time to get it right. We hope to have about 25 stores by the end of 2019.” She is the first to open a pet shop in popular Indian shopping malls, one in Delhi and one in Noida.
Passion for pets works
All in all, today’s Indian pet industry is on solid ground. The demands of the increased number of pet owners are being met by pet shops, veterinarians and groomers. New manufacturers and importers are offering more product options. But the gap between supply and demand is still huge. There are a lot of stores in different cities, but there is still potential for expansion in the coming years.
The new players in the retail sector, whether online or brick and mortar, are making a big difference to petcare. As pet lovers, they bring that special passion to the business. They are realistic and hands-on in all they do, from choosing products to training store staff.