Argos Expand Their Pet Offering, Is This Good For The Pet Industry?
Recently Argos became embroiled in a controversy about them buying pet food on the grey market, many people within the industry were horrified and campaigned for the supplier to be named and shamed which eventually happened and 'Pets In Time' were exposed. Whilst they hadn't actually broken a law many people felt that they had sold the very soul of the pet industry and all it stands for to Argos.
Some pet food manufacturers took a strong stance and informed the press that they would pull their products out of Argos immediately whilst Argos responded saying that they were planning on growing their pet offering in the near future. So where does this leave the pet industry and is this latest move by Argos beneficial to the pet trade in the long term?
If you attend one of the main pet trade shows in the UK you might find 150 independent companies all exhibiting their pet products in the hope that they sell more and more. They will gladly take any order from any retailer so why has Argos a national retailer with some 700 stores in the UK, caused such a reluctant response from some of the industries largest pet suppliers. Surely any exposure of their products on the high street would mean that their products are more readily available to consumers.
Historically the pet trade has been a specialist industry, in more recent times the consumer has demanded increasingly higher quality more refined products for their pets. This development of food and non food items means that we sell more sophisticated pet products now than ever before, the manufacturers rely on the independent pet trade to explain these more technical pet products and their benefits to the consumer. This I feel is the main reason why there is so much negativity about Argos selling pet products, Argos's model is to order through a catalogue at a front of store counter from a huge warehouse where there is no opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of the product that you are ordering.
This lack of advice will ultimately mean that the wrong products are sold to the consumer and this can be detrimental to the consumer and more importantly the pet. Unfortunately missing out on the specialist advice part of the transaction can also result in the consumer leaving negative feedback about the product which is grossly unfair.
Another significant reason why many feel so strongly about Argos is that the pet trade relies heavily on repeat business and every customer that purchases a pet product from an Argos store is a customer that is unlikely to repeat their visit to a specialist pet outlet. This has to be bad news in the long term for all pet retailers as their trade becomes gradually diluted by larger national retailers. Certainly during the economic climate consumer buying patterns are changing and customers are really searching for those tiny savings that they can make on all their pet requirements.
I have spoken to a lot of people within the trade about Argos and the consensus of opinion is that Argos selling pet products is detrimental to the pet industry, surely the pet industry need to come together and see how they can respond to these worrying new trends.