How to deliver the best pet subscription delivery experience

By Patrick Eve, CCO, Gophr

The pandemic hasn’t just been a boom time for pet ownership. Sales of subscription boxes also surged, making them more popular than ever. What started out over a decade ago with people buying themselves food, beauty and well-being boxes for home delivery is now a market on its way to a value of £1.8 Billion by 2025. 

And where humans lead, pets follow. Premium subscription boxes filled with food, snacks, toys and treats increasingly keep both pets and their owners healthy and happy. They’re a valuable part of the future market.

Make it slick

If you’re starting up a subscription box service for pet owners, one of the first things to ask yourself is – can you make it slick? By its nature, a subscription offer is typically a premium one. Higher price points mean high expectations. Pet owners want a seamless shopping and delivery experience that just… works. It’s what they’ve become used to from established subscription box services for humans – such as recipe box businesses HelloFresh and Gousto – and they’ll want it for their pets too.

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The higher price points that come with a premium subscription give brands a chance to invest more in the kind of logistics, delivery and digital interfaces that drive business success. Giving customers absolute control over delivery times and tracking updates can reinforce a premium positioning; and flexible, same day delivery could be your competitive advantage. 

Getting home delivery right from the start is critical. Do that and you make the experience sticky and drive brand loyalty. But there are many challenges to navigate first.

 Not all coverage is equal

Selling one bag of dog food to a customer and making sure it arrives in a good condition is a walk in the park compared to making sure your multi-product subscription box arrives at every customer’s door undamaged.

For anyone with a subscription box business, finding the best and right courier for the job is a genuine challenge. Caboodle, a new subscription start up launched by the co-founder of ecommerce brand The Dog House sells boxes of pre-portioned daily dog food for small dogs. Its CEO Gillian Quek says: “One of our biggest learnings is that the quality of service depends on the postcode. You can never guarantee a blanket service that is really good for the end user and also for us.”

Inconsistent coverage and customer service is something we’ve seen across the delivery landscape. Unless you have high volumes, you’re unlikely to be a priority customer for many large logistics firms. Even if you do, the customer service is likely lacking.

A question to ask yourself – does the delivery system you choose have the transparency and control you, your courier and your end customer needs so that you know what’s going on at any given time? The right technology will help you provide the right level of communication for your customer and one that you can handle too. Otherwise, there are a lot of different variables that could lead to a delivery failure. 

Build the doorstep experience

Last but by no means least – it’s important for any brand playing in this space to think about customer delight at the final touchpoint. It’ll have to be flawless if you’re going to deliver on the premium experience.

Regardless of where you deliver, that doorstep moment might be the only time your customer has contact with another person in relation to the order. Seemingly simple things like packaging that arrives undamaged in a clean and tidy vehicle, with a driver familiar with the location can make for a  better delivery experience. It shouldn’t be so difficult, but delivery is complex – and the increase in demand for home delivery can create a real doorstep challenge.  

There are a lot of moving parts to making sure your pet subscription box is delivering the right experience from start to finish but there is plenty of reason to test and learn. There are now 34 million pets in the UK and they are very much part of our lives. Putting their needs on a par with other family members is par for the course for pet owners who are keen to spend money on new products, tools and services to make their pets look and feel good. All they ask for is a delivery experience that makes them feel good too.

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