Get your pet store on top of the food chain

The pet business has been booming for the past few years, and industry analysts predict continued growth for the future. In the US, spending on food, supplies, medications and services for pets has been growing 10 percent year over year. If that’s not impressive enough, how about this: in 2020 alone, Americans spent over $99 billion on their pets! Despite growing customer demand, this remains a highly competitive market: not only are pet stores increasing in number; they also have to share the market with huge chain stores, such as Walmart and Target, that sell pet supplies in large quantities and at very competitive prices. To attract customers and stay profitable, pet stores must go beyond merely selling food, treats and toys that shoppers may be able to find cheaper elsewhere. Here are few ideas to breed loyalty among your customers with a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.

Create trust

Many pet owners consider their animals are a part of the family, and are consequently very picky when it comes to choosing who should be trusted with their pets. This means that there is a huge potential for loyalty engagementin the industry. To increase the number of loyal, returning customers, focus on:

  • Careful selection of the brands you stock. Customers need to know they can rely on your quality controls, and that you wouldn’t sell them something that is poorly made, or may even be dangerous for their pet.
  • Continuous employee training. My cat almost lost the vision in one eye because we trusted an employee who told us “Sure, these are the eye drops the vet prescribed – they just come with a different name”. Guess what – those were not the same drops. Carefully train your employees on all your products, and make sure they can answer all your customers’ questions competently (and if they don’t have the answer, just admit “I don’t know, let me get back to you”).
  • Implementing a loyalty program. By letting customers collect points and perks, you will encourage them to return to your store. At the same time, you can use the program to collect your customers’ preferences and shopping history, and then use this information to send them personalized product suggestions and offers. Picture this: one of your customers buys specific food for her dog, who has dental problems. By registering the purchase on your customer’s loyalty account, you can then send her recommendations of toys or treats for dogs with dental issues. Next time your customer needs something for their dog, they will surely come to you, I guarantee it! According to a research by Accenture, 3 out of 4 consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that knows their purchase history, recommends options based on past purchases, or recognizes them by name, so it’s definitely worth collecting this kind of information! Don’t forget to make your program omni-channel: your customers will be able to collect and spend points whether they buy from you in-store or online – and you will be able to keep track of all of your customers’ interactions with you, no matter the channel.

Add extra services

There’s a lot more than food and toys to having a pet. To become the go-to place for pet owners you must offer other services, such as pet grooming, training classes or pet daycare. Adding extra activities will drive more people to your store, and give you the opportunity to close additional product sales. You could even encourage customers to buy extra products with ad-hoc, mixed offers – for example, a free dog shampoo every third grooming session, or a discount on pet food based on how many nights your pets spend at the pet hotel. Services can be a lucrative addition to a business – but they can also be tough to manage. Don’t make the mistake of adopting a separate software system to manage your item sales, another one for the courses, and a third one for the grooming salon. When you handle separate activities with different systems, you end up with inconsistent numbers, complex (and expensive!) accounting, mistakes and lost data, and no clear overview over your entire business. For example, with separate systems, the only way to know how many people who attended training courses also use your pet hotel is to extract the information manually. (Who has time for that?) To manage your business as one, invest in software that can handle it all – item sales, bookings, appointments, courses and events. When you have all your data in one system, it’s easier to manage the accounting, as well as to see patterns and understand with what kind of consumer each of your services is popular, and how you can improve your offering. A single system also means quicker service, as your staff doesn’t need to log out of one system into another, or move register to handle different types of sales.

Create a community

Many pet owners have an interest in the welfare of other pets, not just their own. There are multiple ways you can make your stores the center of the animal-loving community.

  • Organize charity events; for example, adoption events for a local shelter, or fundraisers for sick animals. Make the events fun to attend – you could include dog shows, play areas or giveaways – to entice different types of people to come.
  • Share interesting information with your customers. Do you know a trick to help dogs be less scared to go to the vet? Are you familiar with holiday spots that accept animals? This is information you customers want to know! Don’t hesitate to share this information, with in-store flyers, via newsletter, or on your website.
  • Help people help pets in need. Pair up with a shelter you trust, advertise their animals looking for a home, and give your customers a chance to donate to the shelter. This is how I found out about a pet store in my area – a shelter I support advertised that you could send them donations straight at this brand’s stores. Guess where I do my pet food shopping now?
  • Ask the expert. Many pet owners have questions that worry them, but which aren’t serious enough to warrant going to a vet. How can I have my two cockatiels get along? Why does my bunny bite me? Pair up with a veterinarian or animal expert, and do Q&A events in store, or call for questions on your website.

The pet store industry is growing – but are you doing all you can to be on top of the game?

Article written for on 29 November 2017.

For further information on LS Retail for the pet industry please contact allonline365 on +27 (21) 205 3650, or email us on, or visit our website


Three key areas to focus on around the ‘reinvention of retail’

The retail industry has changed significantly with Covid, but the light in the cockpit for shareholders, chief executives and trading directors was already flashing and has been for many years.

Nobody considers Amazon the young ‘unsustainable’ disruptor anymore, smartphones and tablets are no longer nice to have but essential to day-to-day life, and the city center is no longer the mecca for shoppers or professionals. Covid accelerated all these trends by five, ten, 15 years or more. It didn’t start the monumental shift we are seeing in retail now, but it might well finish it.

As part of The Drum’s Deep Dive into the retail industry, there are three key areas worth focusing on that I believe are driving the ‘reinvention of retail’:

1) Customers

They have moved online in their masses, with online rapidly becoming the primary sales and marketing channel for all retail, with the exception of grocery where impulse and freshness still drive a trip to the store. Online demand has surged because more channels (search engines, marketplaces, social platforms) are competing in the same space across the buying funnel, making it easier to buy with great purchases only ever two clicks away.

TikTok is a prime example, growing its active userbase in the UK by more than 15 million in the last two years. The platform might be young, but it now holds easily-influenced audiences who were previously ‘off grid’. I can also tell you 2020 was the best year ever for ad revenues from Google Search marketing, so there is incremental growth across all online.

2) Stores

Consumers’ relationships with stores have changed forever. The high street is no longer a sustainable model: it doesn’t have the ‘pull’ provided by clusters of bigger stores, meaning that footfall into smaller stores has taken a significant hit. Out-of-town ‘developments’ are on the rise, becoming the new destinations for mid-market shoppers on a budget and a time-frame.

The likes of TK Maxx and Aldi have led the charge with this change, locking in and developing prime locations, and they will reap the benefits in years to come with long leases and direct investments into the ‘retail parks’ themselves. The net result is not looking good for landlords, who are increasingly pushed on rental margins and thus have less to invest in the premises themselves.

Expect more bookies and charity shops to pop up on the high street where you might have previously seen Dorothy Perkins or Bon Marché.

3) Brand

The role of a brand has changed rapidly and will continue to do so. Traditional brands such as Debenhams relied on their ‘loyal’ customers and high street labels. Disruptors cornered emerging customer niches with collaborations such as Nike x Dior, local communities and fans (marketplaces such as Friends of Joules), as well as the adoption of payment solutions including Klarna, which is now a key step in the purchase decision. Brand trust is key, but this is underpinned by the service levels.

Online has commoditized so much of retail, with comparison shopping sites such as our own Productcaster ensuring the best price is always found. Customers need to know the product will arrive quickly, with flexible payment solutions and hassle-free returns.

Next is probably the best example of a retailer building new features, partnerships and business models on top of what is a great brand with a large and loyal customer base. I expect it to go from strength to strength in the coming years, knowing it read the winds of change well before the pandemic and is starting to move faster than any of its traditional competitors thought possible.

Article written by Martin Corcoran for on August 25, 2021.

For further information on retail performance solutions please contact allonline365 on +27 (21) 205 3650, or email us on, or visit our website


6 Trends to Impact the Future of the Food Industry

As part of Aptean’s mission to be a future-thinking organization with an eye out for coming developments, we commissioned IDC to conduct a survey of business leaders and create the Food and Beverage Global Trends and Strategic Insights whitepaper.

The report was chock-full of fascinating findings, and the answers received from respondents indicated several trends in the food and beverage industry that will affect operations in significant ways over the coming years. A firm understanding of these shifts in thinking and best practices will allow your company to better prepare for the years to come.

Here are the top 6 emergent trends that will impact the food industry in the near future and the statistics behind them. We’ll also explore some additional implications that these trends carry and the ways in which enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are evolving to suit emergent demands.

1. Supply Chains Need to Grow More Resilient

With future global disruptions chosen as the top threat to the food industry over the next five years—43% of respondents chose that answer, more than 5% higher than the second largest threat—it’s clear that business leaders recognize the seriousness of sudden, dramatic shifts like those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The transportation delays and shutdowns that either significantly slowed or altogether ceased operations make it clear that the industry must be better prepared in case another incident of the pandemic’s scale should occur. That means reinforcing existing supply chains and exploring new opportunities for more reliable local sourcing and alternative sales outlets.

Businesses will also be searching for ways to have more control over the movement of their materials and products, as overall supply chain visibility was chosen as one of the top three focuses for risk mitigation. Now that the liabilities in existing supply chains have been exposed, industry leaders are keen to build them back better and stronger than ever before.

2. Businesses Are Getting Serious About Sustainability

Sustainability was selected by respondents as the top trend in the food industry to prioritize over the next year, with 39% of participants choosing that option. This indicates a more serious commitment to being environmentally conscious and reducing waste in the industry and a concerted effort to become “practitioners” as opposed to “posters.”

Responsible and ethical sourcing is a big component of becoming more sustainable, as is optimizing efficiency in use of ingredients to avoid spoilage and other preventable losses. However, with somewhere between 40 and 50% of food waste occurring in the home, educating consumers on the best ways to get the most use out of what they buy will also be important.

A greater emphasis on sustainability efforts is also seen as a risk mitigation measure, as it was the second-most selected response. This reflects the potential negative effects on profit margins that excessive waste can incur, as well as the increasing desire of organizations to actively minimize the environmental impacts of the operations.

3. Big Data and IoT Will See Accelerated Adoption

Respondents to the IDC survey selected big data and analytics as the technology that will have the greatest impact on their organizations over the next five years, with 38% of participants choosing that option. Right behind it was Internet of Things (IoT), which was chosen by 35% of respondents.

The power of analytics applied to a large dataset can lead to actionable insights—that’s one of the reasons that we’ve built tools for that specific purpose into our industry-specific solution, Aptean Food & Beverage ERP. Meanwhile, IoT devices like smart sensors, scales and thermometers assist in the collection of data, automating the process and importing readings to the system in real-time for an up-to-date picture of performance.

Notably, some technologies that are prominent in today’s headlines, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, were further down the list of advancements that will make an impact on businesses. Time will tell if such developments become prominent in the food and beverage industry or remain primarily the domain of the software and finance sectors, respectively.

4. Enterprise Software Spending Is on the Rise

It’s clear that food and beverage companies are serious about their digital transformations, with 34% of survey respondents indicating an anticipated increase in enterprise software spending of up to 25% and 14% saying their organization planned to increase such spending by more than 25%. The average expected increase was just shy of 8%, making it clear that the investment in a food ERP system or other technological platform is a must.

While there are some barriers holding businesses back from more accelerated modernization —including limited visibility across operations and a lack of awareness of solutions—pushing past those considerations and creating a solid digital foundation is increasingly seen as a necessity for remaining agile, confident and competitive in the dynamic and fast-paced markets of the food and beverage world.

An impressive 80% of all respondents reported improvements in key performance indicators (KPIs) as a result of their digital transformation efforts. This demonstrates how effective purpose-built solutions can be in achieving goals and making measurable progress as an enterprise.

5. Consumers Increase Demands for Traceability and Food Safety

The growing desire among customers for transparency of food manufacturer operations and increased awareness of public health concerns no doubt had much to do with survey respondents picking food safety and traceability as the top focus for risk mitigation. With 37% of participants selecting that option, it’s clear that the matter is top-of-mind for many of the industry’s decision-makers.

Product recalls can damage a business’s bottom line as well as their brand reputation, and several high-profile incidents last year showed just how far-reaching the impacts of a recall can be. Food and beverage companies are looking for tools that can give them complete, bi-directional traceability from one end of the supply chain to the other. As a solutions provider, we’ve made sure that our food ERP system has the features necessary for that level of scrutiny and care.

To further illustrate how seriously food and beverage organizations are taking these matters, consider that 72% of survey respondents indicated that traceability was “important” or “highly important” for their overall business performance strategy. Technology is improving to meet that need, with allergen management features and automated sanitation scheduling—in addition to expedited product recall functionalities—incorporated into advanced systems like those offered by Aptean.

6. Cloud Software Solutions Drive Greater Growth

Respondents from companies with on-premise ERP implementations saw solid growth last year, with their revenue increasing by an average of 1.7% and their profit increasing by an average of 2.7%. The results were even better for those with cloud solutions, though, with their revenue growth coming in at an average of 3.3% and their profits increasing by 3.9%.

The greater security and reliability of cloud deployments undoubtedly helped facilitate those healthy increases, as maintaining optimal uptime is crucial to getting the most out of your materials, employees and equipment. The remote access capabilities and lower up-front costs of cloud setups was likely also key, keeping those businesses that choose this approach agile even in times of disruption and decreasing their financial burdens.

The popularity of cloud implementations is growing, with 38% of survey respondents indicating they had either already moved to the cloud, were in the process of doing so or are actively investigating. Cloud-based networks and ecosystems was also the third most frequently selected option among technologies expected to have the greatest impact on respondents’ organizations over the next 5 years, with 34% choosing that option.

Preparing for the Future of Food with ERP Technology

With so many concerns to juggle and greater demands for sustainability, traceability and compliance—not to mention the pressure to drive profitability—a single cross-functional platform by which your food and beverage business can manage all aspects of operations is a necessity.

An industry-specific ERP solution makes the ideal foundation for preparedness and empowerment as a food and beverage business. Even if you already have such a system in place, it’s vital to critically assess its fitwith your needs and consider the ways in which your organization could achieve better results with more specialized features, integrations with other cutting-edge technologies and an experienced solution provider on your side.

At Aptean, we strive to act as a partner to our clients, and we leverage our food and beverage industry experience by building our offerings with best practices in mind. We’ve implemented Aptean Food & Beverage ERP successfully for thousands of customers, and they’re now enjoying the benefits of the best-in-class tools we’ve packed in during development.

We also offer flexible cloud implementations, and the Microsoft Dynamics 365 framework underneath our solution lends it familiarity with new users and the guarantee of regular upgrades and improvements.

Article written by John McCurdy for on 4 November 2021.

For further information on Foodware 365 please contact allonline365 on +27 (21) 205 3650, or email us on, or visit our website


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