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STORE SPACES

Petco launches service-first store concept

BY Marianne Wilson

Petco is bringing an online platform it acquired into the physical space.

The retailer unveiled a new pet-care store concept, called PetCoach, in San Marcos, Calif., that offers personalized pet services, products and experiences — all designed through a veterinary lens — to address total pet health and wellness.

The new model brings Petco’s previously online-only, veterinary-led PetCoach platform to life in a brick-and-mortar setting — enhanced by digital and mobile tools — that gives customers 24/7 access to support for their pets. (Petco acquired PetCoach in April 2017.) It also is testing a membership offer, that for $9 a month, gives customers access to several free veterinary visits per year, along with discounted rates on other items.

With only a limited, extremely curated product selection, the store is focused on service. The on-site service offerings include grooming, training, veterinary care, nutrition consultations, day care, self-wash, mobile vet house calls and even dog walking. The space is designed to highlight the available service offerings, with clear visibility into each service area and gathering spaces for personal interactions and educational events.

According to Petco, every service and product in the store has been directly reviewed and approved by a veterinarian.

“Pet parents tell us they want expert advice they can trust and easy, seamless access to everything they need to take the best possible care of the pets they love,” said Petco CEO Ron Coughlin, who took the helm of the chain on June 18. “With PetCoach, we’re reinventing the idea of a traditional ‘pet store’ by providing complete care experiences — from grooming, training and day care to full-service veterinary care — that simply can’t be delivered by mail or by a mass retailer.”

Online, customers create custom pet profiles, book in-store service appointments (with tailored reminders). They can also access immediate professional pet health advice from licensed veterinarians, order from a vet-vetted selection of pet food and supplies, and search a library of content relevant to their pet, including their health and vaccination records, service history and more.

Petco has been expanding its offerings as it works to remain competitive today’s digitally-driven, competitive landscape. In the past year alone, it has acquired subscription-based pet product service PupBox, a leading pet insurance company and high-end pet food company JustFoodforDogs.

“The new PetCoach location serves as an innovation lab where we can test and learn more about what pet parents want and need to live their best lives with their pets,” said Petco executive VP, strategic innovation & digital experience Brock Weatherup. “The concept allows us to continue creating new, differentiated and personalized pet care experiences, all backed by our extensive veterinary expertise and support.”

Petco operates more than 1,500 Petco and Unleashed by Petco locations across the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico.

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