Online shopping; some say it is a double-edged sword, but it is here to stay. It is an efficient way to purchase the supplies a person needs and wants without fighting crowds and pushy salespeople. Others contend that it takes away from local businesses. However, one BioZyme® dealer, who is an innovator in e-commerce, has found his niche in the online retail business while educating his consumers.
Chris Mallon, owner and manager of A to Z Vet Supply (www.atozvetsupply.com) in Dresden, Tennessee, was one of the first pet supply sellers to have an online business, back in 2003, when the internet was still the “wild, wild west.” Although the transition from a catalog to a website didn’t happen over night and not without trial and error, his company has grown, experienced some website changes; and he’s excited to launch a fresh designed, custom website in the very near future.
“We look at our business differently. I’m not a widget-seller. I’m an educator. I travel around the country and speak at conventions and educational seminars [for dog breeders]. The backbone of our business is dog breeding. We work with dog breeders to educate them on a science-basis just like BioZyme does, on nutrition and vaccinating and worming and all these things they need to bring healthy puppies to market and what happens beyond,” Mallon said. “Puppies grow up in a breeder’s environment and then they leave to go to a new household or go to a pet store to be sold. That’s a whole new environment and that just shuts down their system. Of course, the Amaferm® in the Vitalize® Dog Gel is a great thing to send along with that puppy to keep its system intact and even if it stresses, there’s no impact on its digestive tract and it won’t have diarrhea, etc., etc… So, we educate people on these things.”
Mallon said education is vital to what he does. Once he or his staff has educated a consumer on a product or how to use a product, the sale is secondary. When a consumer understands the product, the sale isn’t as challenging to make. And once they start using a product they trust that works, they don’t turn back. Then, they start telling their friends who tell their friends and referrals come pouring in. He said that is how he’s used the Vitalize Dog Recovery Gel and Vita Charge® Liquid Boost to grow his business during the past two years.
“I’ve got people hooked on those products. I gave a great educational seminar, so they try the products. Once they implement them, there’s no reason for them to think about it again because they keep coming back and are like, ‘wow, this really works!’”
As a pioneer in animal supply e-commerce, Mallon offers three tips to set yourself apart in online retail.
- Educate your consumer. The only way Mallon said you will set yourself apart from your competitor is to provide education. Without a consumer being able to hold and “experience” the product, they need to feel connected to it. That might be with a testimonial blog or video, but make sure to offer more than a product picture, description and price. He said when people do visit his website, he hopes they call the 800-number, but if they do not, the information they need to know more about the product and make a buying decision is available directly on the website.
- Invest in a website. “Websites are the cheapest salesperson you will ever invest in and the more money you put into that salesperson, the better off you’ll be because that website is working 24/7, seven days a week for your initial cash outlay.” Make sure your website is user friendly, on a reliable platform and contains the items that you carry in your store, if you have a storefront.
- Prepare for the future. Mallon said that by 2025, its predicted 90% of all online orders will be submitted via cell phone – not a desktop computer or tablet, so when you do decide to join the world of e-commerce, make sure your website can be pushed through on a cell phone.
In addition to its website, A to Z Vet Supply is also found on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Mallon said he uses those tools to help draw people in to find his website. Although he uses the Promoboxx content on the Facebook page, he said his typical content is funny dog videos that people will watch, then they see his website, visit that and perhaps call him with a question. Another valuable tool he recommends is Google Analytics, a free resource to track and reports website traffic.
Yes, online shopping is here to stay. A to Z Vet Supply has proven itself an innovator in the digital information and retail space. Chris Mallon uses his skills and knowledge to educate before the sale, being a true champion of “care that comes full circle.”