Pets at Home is the UK’s leading specialist retailer of pet food, pet products and pet-related services, operating in 457 superstores, 443 veterinarian practices, with over 57% of them containing grooming salons nationwide, as well as a popular website. The company has enjoyed significant growth over the past few years, and in their 2022 annual report, they had a record year for growth, dominating a quarter (24%) of the pet care market.
This growth has, in part, been fuelled by Pets at Home’s customer-centric strategy and the company has rolled out a range of new projects and initiatives to provide a seamless a seamless shopping experience for its customers.
One of Pets at Home’s key initiatives to drive forward its customer-centric strategy is the Pet Pad: an in-store iPad system designed to remove friction from the customer’s experience and transform the retail operations of the organisation. Not only would this remove the need for customers adopting pets to fill out paper forms at the till, it would also allow Pets at Home’s knowledgeable staff to use the technology to provide better pet welfare advice and services.
However, soon after the devices were rolled out it became clear that the network, as it was then, was struggling to cope with the additional strain.
Suzie Williams, Business Systems Director, explained: “We wanted to completely transform the customer experience, doing away with cumbersome processes and pen and paper forms. However, we immediately faced a number of obstacles with network and WiFi coverage issues causing regular dropouts which adversely affected the iPads’ ability to process transactions. This undermined our colleagues' confidence in the Pet Pad system. Frustrated customers found themselves spending time on the Pet Pad to then have to still fill out paper forms to complete their transaction. The seamless shopping experience that we had envisioned was being sabotaged by our connectivity issues, and we needed focused and dedicated support to provide the infrastructure necessary to make Pet Pads work.”
Suzie continued: “The issue was compounded by the fact that our network requirements were split between two separate providers. This meant working with different service levels and leaving notable gaps in our provision, so we decided to move everything to one provider to make management smoother. The question was, which one?”
Suzie commented: “When choosing between Claranet and other providers, we considered our plans for the future and what support would be needed to make them viable. It became apparent that we needed a provider who understood our business and our culture, and who would provide us with a personalised service. Claranet’s experience working with businesses like us made them the obvious choice.”
Claranet subsequently rolled out a brand new WAN to over 400 retail locations and 340 veterinarian surgeries nationwide. Customers can be very unforgiving of downtime and Pets at Home plan to work with Claranet to enhance this system with integrated 3G MPLS connectivity into the solution as a back-up, cementing the businesses’ capacity to securely process transactions even in the event of a network outage.
Claranet also support Pets at Home with a dedicated Microsoft Exchange hosted email platform for 4,300 colleagues. This includes the Symantec suite of anti-virus and archiving services. Additionally, Claranet provide a backup solution which ensures that data from the retail units is securely stored.
This has directly impacted in-store operations, allowing colleagues to spend less time processing in the back-office and more time on the shop floor, servicing customers."
Pets at Home
One of the most important and immediate benefits of Claranet’s work has been to enable the stabilisation and the expansion of the Pet Pad system. With a reliable network in place, and the work of a responsive Service Management team paying dividends, the issue of dropouts was resolved and staff have subsequently come to view their iPads as the helpful utility they were always meant to be. This has directly impacted in-store operations, allowing colleagues to spend less time processing in the back-office and more time on the shop floor, servicing customers.
The reliability that Claranet’s connectivity has provided has allowed Pets at Home to leverage the technology with more iPad applications, such as a VIP (Very Important Pet) sign up scheme which has proved crucial for developing a higher level of engagement with customers.