“You can’t groom a dog over the internet.”

I’ve heard some variation of this statement time and again over the pastseveral years as pet industry experts explain why services such as groominghave become such an important part of pet retail businesses across thecountry. And while this may be true, a new venture from Amazon just might makeus all rethink how much services will insulate traditional brick-and-mortarpet stores from competition from the online retail giant.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal in April, Amazon recently openedits first hair salon—yes, hair salon—in London. According to the report, the1,500-square-foot salon offers a range of services, “including augmented-reality hair consultations.” In addition, while the salon does not sellproducts off the shelf, it does offer “a new ‘point and learn’ experience”that allows customers to point at an item on the shelf to display productinformation on a screen, as well as QR codes that can be scanned to placeorders on Amazon’s U.K. site for home delivery.

If successful, this latest foray by the internet retailer into the brick-and-mortar world could have serious implications for pet stores that are countingon services to set them apart.

What’s to say that Amazon won’t next set its sights on pet grooming? Thecompany has been pretty clear about its intention to grow its share of the petproducts market, and similar to many independent and neighborhood petretailers, it seems to view services not necessarily as a direct revenuegenerator, but rather as an effective way to drive traffic toward its retailofferings. With that in mind, opening pet grooming salons that promote petproduct sales could be an attractive strategy for the onlineretailer—particularly given that Chewy already seems to have a sizable headstart in dominating online sales within the pet care market.

Of course, one Amazon hair salon in London is hardly reason for pet stores topanic, but the online retailer’s increasing attraction to brick-and-mortarbusinesses does bear watching over the next several years. After all, the oft-repeated statement that I previously used to hear about why traditional petstores were safe from online competitors was, “At least they can’t ship a30-lb. bag of dog food for free.”

Well, how did that work out?

Source: USA Pet Business

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