Is Online Retail a Race to the Bottom for Veterinary Practices?
On the surface, it may seem like competing on price is the only way to succeed with your ecommerce website, but there are a few things to consider first.
It's no secret that online retail is a competitive space. Consumers can easily compare prices between different retailers, and they often do. This puts pressure on businesses to offer low prices to stay competitive. But what about veterinary practices? Should you compete on price, or should you focus on delivering value?
The vet’s voice matters!
First, it's important to remember that veterinary practises aren’t like other businesses. Your clients trust your advice and guidance when it comes to their pets, and your recommendation counts. If your strategy is to provide high-quality, top-of-the-range products for your customers, sustainable pricing might mean slightly more expensive products than your competitors.
Consider what might drive customers to buy your veterinary products.
Are they looking for affordability? Convenience? Standard care? Or personalised support for their animals, no matter the cost? Whatever your customers are looking for, it’s likely more than just a bargain - they will trust your expert direction and advice specific to their pets’ needs.
Unlike big box retailers, your vet practice has a 360-degree understanding of the health of your customer’s pet. How can your veterinary practice lean into this unique opportunity? How might you create further trustworthiness and understanding with your customers to keep them coming back?
Should I be worried about big-box pet retailers?
They’re there, and they’re not going away - that’s the reality. However, many may assume that all products sold by a large retailer are cheaper for the customer. This isn’t always true, and it is often an illusion created strategically by loss leaders. The perception of cheap prices is created to nudge competitors away.
Smaller retailers have distinct advantages over big-box retailers.
To start with, on Storbie, your online orders can be drop-shipped - less capital needs to be invested in acquiring inventory beyond what you normally hold in-clinic. The extended range you can offer online gives you more flexibility in your markup, as there are fewer overheads to absorb.
You may be placing multiple special product orders a day for products you don’t normally carry, and it can be time-consuming and space-intensive to store these until the customer is ready to pick them up.
Veterinary practice e-commerce websites powered by Storbie can streamline this process. Instead of playing phone tag and storing items awaiting collection for weeks, the customer’s purchase gets drop-shipped right to their home. What is the saved time and space (not to mention convenience for your client) worth to your practice? How could that time be used instead?
So is online retail a race to the bottom?
The short answer is no. Contrary to other industries, veterinary product purchases are driven by the recommendations of the experts on your team. Sustainable and successful pricing is about more than cutting down - it’s about what your services and personalised expertise are worth to your customers.