“The interesting thing is that our growth has been exponential, and because of our marketing and word-of-mouth, we are expecting 7,000 additional customers in 2015- and it’s our goal to double our size again by 2017!”
Though the website was initially created by a veterinarian friend of the duo, it never launched due to issues, and the co-founders later launched it themselves in May 2011. As it was a success, they were able to open a brick and mortar Pet Shop, at Dubai Investment Park in February 2011. Both online and offline shops are works in progress and continuously seek to improve.
MAKING IT HAPPEN
Co-founded by 36-year-old Charlotte Mortensen –whose background is in constructional architecture-and 41-year- old Anders Erik Jorgensen who comes from a legal background, the married partners were working on a three-year contract for a Danish company regarding properties and tax laws when they arrived to Dubai in early 2008. They saw an opportunity in the market for online retailing of pet food and accessories in UAE, and decided to start Dubaipetfood.com.
While the brick and mortar The Pet Shop is a one-stop shop, the online web shop makes it convenient for pet owners to get the products delivered fast and easy to their doorstep. Jorgensen says their vast product range and stock available is attractive for customers to shop, instead of seeking different products in multiple smaller shops.
HOW IT WORKS
Dubaipetfood.com offers Pet Packs, boxes that contain an assortment of treats and toys, all worth more than AED250. AED1 from the sale of each pack goes to K9 Friends too. The first is the Pooch Pack for dogs and the Purr Pack for cats that are AED199 as a one-off pack without subscription, next is the Pooch Pack Subscription for dogs and Purr Pack Subscription for cats that customers can get for AED537 for a three-month plan. Customers can also mention their pet’s age, breed, size and preferences for each box, with free delivery in UAE. Their payment solutions include PayPal, cheque on delivery or COD.
The co-founders say that the Pet Pack isn’t a large part of their enterprise, instead the larger shares of their business come from their brick and mortar shop (one-third), and their online marketplace (two-thirds). We don't accept when things are done half-heartedly, says Jorgensen on their dedication towards their customers and business.
Both their offline and online shops provide revenue streams. In the last four years, according to Jorgensen, both shops have gained “above 13,000 customers, who all at some point, have placed an online order”- mainly through word of mouth and marketing strategies.
REACHING THE PEOPLE
For marketing, the company uses social media, online advertising, radio advertising, word of mouth and distribution of flyers, as well as its delivery cars branded with the company logo and details for potential customers to see Dubaipetfood.com as the place to go for online orders and The Pet Shop as the place for an offline shopping experience.
Due to its partnership with Emirates, all of the carrier’s Platinum members can get a discount. “I believe that reaching a certain minimum level of orders/revenue is important, so that the cars are on the road and the packers/ route planners/drivers are kept busy,” says Jorgensen.
After trying to outsource to external delivery companies, the co-founders noted that it wasn’t the level of service they were expecting, and have proceeded to have their own logistics department with route planners and drivers. Online payment methods were also one of their struggles, not just for technical issues, but also because of the charges from banks and payment gate providers.
“At the moment, UAE is the market [where we want to put] our efforts, as we can still do so much more. Later, other countries in the region are, of course, an option.”