Digitising the path ahead

Business Today Malaysia interviews Bryan Boo, Pet Lovers Centre, operations director on how the biggest pet retail chain has adopted digitisation and discusses their strategies moving forward

By Poovenraj Kanagaraj

“Our business strategy is focused on targeting the middle class groups who frequent malls and those that are hands-on with their pets and are interested in learning more on how to care for their furry best friends,” operations director, Bryan Boo told Business Today Malaysia.

Known as the biggest pet retail in the country, Pet Lovers Centre (PLC) is a household name that has since achieved over 53 store openings since its flagship store back in 2016. And with rapid expansion brings about opportunities and with it, comes challenges.

Tackling challenges 

PLC, like many of its counterparts are facing an increasing need for storage as spatial need proves to be a burden for traditional brick-and-mortar stores, and many stores and malls are facing stiff competition for rapid footfall to meet a quota of customers per day.

Pet Lovers Centre, Operations Director, Bryan Boo

“There is a pressing concern on the freshness of stock and PLC aims to reassure that we have a robust protocol for ensuring that our customers get the freshest and best from the range,” Bryan said.

However, a pet retail chain has a few advantages on being at a bigger capacity operations-wise to store food and keep track of the expiration date through a meticulous tracking system both online and offline.

Bryan further states that a higher inventory turnover rate ensures that a retail store sells its average investment locked up in inventory during a particular period of time and generates employee morale which leads to higher loyal customer conversion rate and improves the image of the store.

When it comes to guarding against losses from product perishability, PLC practices the  ‘first-in-first-out’ method (FIFO) which ensure that product expiration is stringently followed through according to the dates.

“Product perishability is a possibility that every business must plan for and comprehend. As mentioned, PLC has a standard protocol where we check for the product’s freshness every month and the automated system for weekly deliveries to stores,” Bryan pointed out.

Providing a more holistic experience

PLC believes in becoming the centre that provides the best for pet needs and for the convenience of owners around the country. The opening of it’s Ikano Power Centre mall (IPC)  flagship store, The Pet Safari (TPS) later this year, is aimed to serve as an extension of the PLC stores which features specialised themes suited towards the needs of pet owners.

Through this space, the brand will be working together with longtime partner, PAWS Animal Welfare Group, to provide potential owners with a one-stop centre for their adoption needs ranging from available stray animals to be adopted, food, hygiene products and starter kits to help these owners ease themselves into their new roles.

At MyTown, TPS focuses on a garage theme and provides additional services would benefit both the owners and pets. PLC believes these add-ons diversify offerings at the store which includes a pet bakery, small animal grooming section and a vet pharmacy among others.

The pet retail brand is also planning to venture further into pet care which will include pet insurance, pet cremation, a vet pharmacy in Klang Valley, pet relocation services, a dog training centre and a daycare centre for pets.

Digitisation, partnerships and strategies moving forward

According to PLC, digitisation is giving leverage to technological advancements such as high-tech toys and veterinary applications which showcases the information about health and welfare and this will further equip pet owners with the information to afford better care for their pets.

“We are seeing more and more NGOs utilise social media and the voices of these passionate individuals to preach for the need for adoption. This ensures that the message of adoption is propagated,” Bryan told Business Today Malaysia.

He further pointed out that the increase in demand for better quality products along with the ease of information available in the digital streams will be a part of the ability for the pet sector to move forward.

“In line with increasing digitisation, partnerships with e-Commerce sites will be beneficial to improve brand accessibility,” said Bryan.

Beyond its brick-and-mortar presence, PLC is innovating itself into adopting omni-channel marketing via social media and building partnerships with e-Commerce applications such as HappyFresh.

“We also foresee that there will be a rise in pet-friendly apartments and high-rise buildings, pet inclusive homes becomes trendy and many property developers – in a bid to remain on top of their competition – will offer this feature as a way to appeal to this trend,” said Bryan.

This will lead to more pet-friendly homes where interior designing will take centre stage as owners are looking towards integrated designs such as decorative litter boxes with sustainable litter which is eco-beneficial.

“PLC has continuously emphasised on a strategy to expand and have more stores within the malls because it improves the economies of scale, as there were no other pet shops penetrating the malls back when we were just getting started. Till this day, it has remained one of our key strategies,” Bryan told Business Today Malaysia.

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