As one of the most noteworthy pet industry drivers in force, veterinary clinics continue to expand in retail stores nationwide, according to Packaged Facts.
“Today’s pet industry is an ‘omnimarket’ where pet industry players aren’t simply competing across brick-and-mortar channels and the Internet,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.
Omnimarket describes a new era of multiple-front competition that simultaneously crosses former business operations borders between medical vs. non-medical, products vs. services, food vs. non-food products, and pet owner demographics. This notably includes veterinary expansion into retail stores.
This new era of multiple-front competition has been fueled by booming e-commerce in pet products. However, the landscape is also being shaped by the competitive reactions of traditional pet product manufacturers and retailers. Pet superstores are responding to the fact the Internet has eroded brick-and-mortar’s distinction between pet specialty and mass market, while mass-market big boxes exploit this by collapsing the distinction between retail store and vet clinic/pet care salon. Hands-on pet care is the Achilles’ heel of the Internet as a pet care provider and pet industry competitor.
Hands-on pet care will remain the calling card of the veterinary sector — but selectively and progressively expanded in scope, and supplemented by Internet and digital technologies and communications.
Among recent examples of the pet industry’s omnimarket shift:
- Petco has added in-store and freestanding clinics in an attempt to mirror PetSmart’s strategy involving its longstanding affiliation with Banfield Pet Hospitals.
- PetIQ is partnering with Walmart to open vet clinics in as many as 1,000 stores by the end of 2023.
- Tractor Supply Co. offers pop-up veterinary clinics at its locations.
Not only do these in-store clinics offer consumers increased access to veterinary care and pet medications, but their presence promotes the overall concept of pet wellness. This reminds pet owners about the importance of caring for their pets’ health and making it more convenient to do so. Even so, such expansion presents challenges to the business success of many traditional, independent vets and to the autonomy of the veterinarian profession.