People have now started considering pets as their companions rather than being just pets. There is pet humanisation and premiumisation happening in India. People want to spend money on the pets but there are very less avenues available and thus, their reach remains limited. If I have to get something specific for my pet, I have to travel to some big outlet or ring the Vet, and often, it happens that I am not able to find what exactly my pet wants, a bit of inconvenience.
While internet penetration is growing, its impact not something that has left the pet industry untouched, ecommerce boom had earlier made products of all variety available online, thus products of this niche category also are now started being available online.
Looking at this market opportunity in this space and the love for pets had led Rana Atheya to launch a “Social Ecommerce Platform” for pet lovers i.e., not only selling pet stuffs but building a community.
Market opportunity and The Competition
The pet industry in India is estimated to grow by more than 25% annually and the growing number of pet owners presents an immense opportunity to fill gaps. Though in comparison to the markets of the US and the UK, in India the pet industry is still in its infancy and is mostly ruled by the neighbourhood shops. There are hardly any prominent brands when it comes to quality pet products. The accessories and other peripherals even today remain to be vastly disorganized. The UK and the US are vastly governed by the organized sector. There, the pet owners not only want quality products but will want it to come from a branded house. Though the trend has started in India, we will need some more time to catch up. It should be noted that in the US it is about $ 48 Bn industry!
“As the pet industry in India is still largely disorganized, so there is no direct competitor yet in this space,” says Rana.
DogSpot was the pioneer to start ecommerce for pet products and established this as a category that led various ecommerce marketplace to start offering pet products like Shopclues, Snapdeal etc. If there is market opportunity then obviously, there is competition. Thus, to lead among the other existing players, DogSpot is trying not to remain limited to just an ecommerce store but to be a one-set destination for pet lovers to fulfill all their needs.
Building Up The Community of Pet Lovers
The store from past one year is working on various sections on the website so as to engage and bring more and more people on its platform, not only to shop but to get engaged, discussed etc. As per the company, most of its traffic is community and content-driven. “We are here to solve problems of a pet owner and not just to do ecommerce. Hence, we are a unique proposition of social ecommerce in pet space,” says Rana.
WagClub: Social Platform for Pets
Facebook is there for us, but what for our pets? Though few people go crazy and dedicate a Facebook page for their pets, or make their accounts. But how to find more pets over there? I guess this was something that kickstarted Dogspot to launch WagClub – a highly active community which is glued to showcase dogs and discuss and exchange information.
WAGpedia: Breed Engine
It has recently launched WAGpedia which helps people to select the breed of the dogs which they can own as per their lifestyle, need and geography. Its a single click access (widget) and it starts with following options:
- I want a big dog
- I want a stress buster
- Need a friend
- I need a cute and furry buddy
- My Kids wants a dog
- I need a guard dog
Clicking on any of these options suggests relevant breeds. People have options to further filter the breeds as per requirements.
To make shopping easier on its platform, the store assists its customers on choosing what products will best suit their pets, users just need to select the breed and age of their pet and then the store provides list of products best suited for the pet.
It also has a Pet Expert helpline, where pets owners can call and ask questions concerning the well being of their pet. Other than products, it also covers all sorts of Dog Shows and Pet Events all over India. At present we cover 65+ Pet Events (Including Dog Shows) regularly around India on the website. DogSpot team travels to most of these shows and bring news and photo coverage from these shows. It has also a cloud-based solution to manage the working of these shows.
Last year, DogSpot had added another portal called FishSpot focusing primarily on fish-related products. Like DogSpot, FishSpot also provide information on fish & fish-related products like fish food, aquariums, aquarium decorations, filters and heaters apart from just selling. It also has plans to launch CatSpot & BirdSpot catering to cat and bird products.
Challenges in Building Up
“If I have to say from the top of my head, the biggest hurdle was to master the supply and delivery side of the products. We had to work really hard to find and evolve the supply side by working closely with our partners,” says Rana. Shipping heavy items like dog food, cages, travel crates etc economically is also a challenge that DogSpot is facing.
Crunching the Numbers
Speaking over the profit margins, in this category Rana pointed out that this category looks good on the gross margin level however, logistics is a major cost. Dog Food happens to be the biggest category followed by grooming products. Overall consumable products make more sales than non consumable. As per the company, it has been growing more than 100% year on year and have served more than 100,000 dogs in India.
Currently, there are over 5000 products that are available on the website with about 160 brands.
For future, it plans to serve at least 20K dogs every month in the next 12 months. In the coming years, it aims to build the brand and expand the business organically through various consumer touch points but plans to keep emphasis primarily on word-of-mouth and initiatives that resonate with the masses.
It also has plans to launch a Private label called PetSpot by 2014.
DogSpot was launched by Rana Atheya in 2007. As a community and information website, ecommerce section was added in 2011. It is backed by India Quotient which had invested in the company in February 2013. Prior to that it has raised funding in 2011 from Vikas Saxena (CEO of Nimbuzz), Vaibhav Gadodia (VP, Tech-Nagarro) and Ritesh Chauhan. In 2012, Tanjai Ventures and Kibo Partners had also invested in the company.