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There’s a chance, if you are not as conscious of your pet’s fashion as your own, you may not be familiar with Pets Pyjamas. But with 21,000 Twitter followers, not far behind newly floated market leader Pets at Home’s 38,000, it’s clear the brand is gaining awareness.
Fresh Egg caught up with chief executive Gracia Amico to find out how she is creating a pet brand unlike any other and what tips she can give to help you improve your website.
Pets Pyjamas chief executive Gracia Amico with dog Steffi
“We created Pets Pyjamas as a place where you can buy a dog collar. But if you want a dog collar, you may also be interested in a service for dog grooming and also holidays with your dog,” says chief executive Gracia Amico, who took on the role in April 2014.
Pets Pyjamas offers information about pet-friendly hotels and cottages, and now you can also book your holiday through the website.
You can also find services for your pet, such as groomers and dog sitters in your local area. Plus, you can connect with other like-minded pet owners on their social petwork, as the website aims to create a real community among its customers.
The one crucial piece of advice Amico would give to online businesses is to offer something that shows you understand your customers, whether that be via a product or a service.
“You need something unique that is tailored to your customers’ needs,” she says. “At Pets Pyjamas, we truly understand our customer. The customer should need, want and demand the product you have.”
Indeed, the way the website is laid out highlights how important it is that you tailor your offer to what the customer wants.
The key is to be clear about your audience, understand what they want and expect from you, and deliver on that. You may end up alienating some shoppers but you should have faith that your proposition is strong enough to pull in sales.
“Competitive advantage enables new products and services to disrupt the rest of the market and creates a wall of defence against any future market entrants. To be a strong brand, you therefore need to have one or more unique things that set you apart from your competitors.
“Brands that are best at creating and promoting differentiation have a really thorough understanding of the make-up and needs of their target market. Most are not just looking to attract new customers, but to earn their loyalty and repeat custom. This can only happen if you really understand your customers and if they in turn can distinguish you from your competitors.”
After a year at the helm, Amico, who has formerly worked at global brands Burberry and Topman, has created a site that has a focused message and clearly communicates what the business is about to its customers.
Pets Pyjamas has the look and feel of a premium retailer – you can buy an S-shaped scratching post for £480. However, the prices are varied, ranging from a more affordable £10.95 for a cat brush. It is the same for its holiday breaks, offering rooms from £50 per night to 5-Star luxury.
Amico says the brand is inclusive, not exclusive, but that style and curation is at its core.
Amico explains: “My experience in fashion helps. At Burberry, brand was very important and the business was very protective of the brand.
“And although we are not a fashion brand, we are aspiring to be to be a very strong brand and everything that we do on the site is reflective of that.”
Indeed, Pets Pyjamas’ very clean, cool homepage barks fashion, and is more likely to be compared to the likes of online clothing giant ASOS rather than pet retail rivals, such as Pets at Home.
Its blog is referred to as a 'magazine', filled with articles headed ‘Top 5 spring 2015 trends for your pet’, comparing human fashion to collars, leads and bowls, while the wording used has been carefully crafted to follow that of a fashion retailer. It uses calls to action (CTAs), such as ‘shop the collection’ and ‘shop new in’, which seems to successfully create a sense of urgency around these accessories, in the same way you may feel about buying clothes for yourself rather than your pet.
Amico adds that she has been careful to use the correct messaging, wording and visuals on the website to make the user experience enjoyable.
The imagery conveys a message that this is a premium retailer; one picture depicts a dog inside a Louis Vuitton holdall, while the people in the images are well-dressed and striking. Even the font speaks to the pet fashionista.
“Pets Pyjamas’ approach to placing importance on ‘brand’ is really key. We know that not only do consumers make important preferential buying decisions around a brand, but Google is also looking at a brand’s visibility as part of its considerations into which websites it shows to users in their searches.
“An important consideration here also is how the brand is talked about online. Maintaining a good brand reputation – through monitoring for mentions, replying to feedback and other strong customer experience skills – all help to give confidence in who they are buying from and whether or not they recommend the brand to friends and family.”
Pets Pyjamas’ unique website has been created by its uniquely close relationship it has with its design and development team. They are so close, in fact, that they are in-house – an unusual move for a retailer.
Amico explains: “Our in-house tech team had to develop a platform that can process orders from the ecommerce site, and handle service booking, as well as hosting content. It was challenging and it took some time to build.”
However, Amico says that having an in-house tech team is not the solution for everyone. It depends on the structure of the company and whether a team of developers would be comfortable working within your business environment.
“At Fresh Egg, we have a team of talented developers and designers who have an incredible amount of experience working with a variety of different clients, with different requirements, from small brochure websites, to large e-commerce builds.
“This gives us a breadth of experience in tackling many demanding challenges that different clients need solving, while being able to tailor our solutions for each client. Having the ability to work on such a varied amount of work gives an agency development team the confidence to think outside the box more often and know that a particular problem can be solved.”
Pets Pyjamas’ technical talent has also helped put the purr into personalisation.
“Personalisation is very important,” explains Amico. “We try to use it to speak to our customers in a more human way.
“The pet is so loved by that person and it is important to understand how much that dog means to a person.
“So, for example, if the customer and the dog are going on holiday, the day before they go we will send a personalised email to say something like, ’how exciting, your trip is coming up, but the weather is going to be wet so you had better take a pair of wellies. And try out the dessert at the restaurant, which is particularly good’.
“Initially it takes a lot of time [to set up] but then it becomes automated and if the person goes to the same place more than once, you just need to pull in a new weather report.”
“Pets Pyjamas’ use of personalised email messages that reference the weather in a particular location (for example) not only provides additional value to the customer, but also conveys respect and thoughtfulness. This kind of service breeds true loyalty.
“Considering how a very professional shop assistant in a high street store would service one of your customers is a very effective way to generate personalisation ideas for your website. For example, a great assistant would remember you from previous visits and may address you and your pet by name. They would know the products you’ve bought previously and ask if you’d like these again. After learning your needs and tastes they would recommend products to you and may suggest accessories to go with those you’re buying. The good news is that with a bit of work, your website really can offer the one-to-one service of infinite world class shop assistants.”
Click here for more thoughts from Duncan on the power of personalisation
Amico declined to give the company’s financial figures but revealed that it has recorded three-digit growth for the last three years; “we are very pleased with the numbers”, she adds.
So go and check out the website for an example of a creative e-commerce site – it is the dog’s biscuits.