In conversation with Akshay Mahendru, the Founder and CEO of The Pet Point, he talks about his purpose as an entrepreneur and pet parent, strategy behind his company’s expansion, and his vision for the future of the company.
Mr. Binoy– What is the inspiration behind starting The Pet Point?
Mr. Akshay- The inspiration has always been to create an ecosystem, where the pet parenting becomes easy.The motivation has always been to make pet parenting not as difficult a task as it seems to be from the outside.The entire family has been pet lovers from the very beginning. We would sense there was a disconnect between the pet parents as well as the expectation pet pen has from a service provider or a product provider. So that is why, we came up with the idea of The Pet Point. We wanted an ecosystem where it is affordable and approachable. Any person who wants to be a pet parent or is a pet parent can enter into any Pet Point store without hesitation.
Mr. Binoy – Which was your first pet store and in which location? How many stores do you have today and how many stores will you have by the end of 2023?
Mr. Akshay– The first major project as a store was in Punjabi Bagh area in West Delhi which was back in 2002.We are at eight physical stores in Delhi NCR.We are looking to expand the chain much beyond what it is right now. For 2023,the goal is to add six to seven more stores. We want to reach to a dual level of 15 by the end of this year.
Mr. Binoy – How do you choose the locations?
Mr. Akshay- We have been very strategic when it comes to choosing the space for our stores. First, depending upon the density of pet population in that particular area. Then, building the model around affordability and accessibility of every pet parent to that store. We tried to take places where rents are controlled because if the rents are on the higher side, The Pet Pen has to pay for it. Ultimately, it is a business game. The customer has to pay for the kind of place they are coming into. Our stores look premium, but they are not. This has been the approach. I want people to come in without thinking twice about it.
Mr. Binoy – What are the pain areas of running a physical store? How do you overcome them?
Mr. Akshay- It takes a lot of time from us. We have now sat down to ease our operations part by creating a lot of SOPs for all my store staff. That has been the major focus towards developing our retail store. I have been a very knowledge giving kind of a retailer from the very first day I used to be at the counter. My customers used to interact with me. I have followed the same things with my support store staff also by giving them knowledge. I don’t want to lose ideology behind opening a lot of stores and doing berserk work without any knowledge or any operations in that. I take keen interest in the veterinary process. Now, I think the time has come when the pet parent is completely informed of what anybody’s doing, whether it’s a vet, a pet store owner, the kind of food being recommended, due vaccinations, and grooming needs. The knowledge that pet parent has acquired in the last 10 years is tremendous.
Mr. Binoy- Pet store has all the products but do you also cater to some services like grooming or the training or something like that?
Mr. Akshay– All the stores have a grooming station and three have a clinic inside. We do provide home services, clinical home services, and our grooming services. Those are all the parameters we have already enhanced.
Mr. Binoy – How do you think you are going to compete with the people who are on online?
Mr. Akshay- The strategy behind our stores have always been to service the client to the last point. We do home deliveries. We are price competitive. I think any e-commerce website trying to deliver inter Delhi or outer Delhi will have to bear a cost. We are providing these services free of cost to any of our clients anywhere in Delhi. It is commercial for us. We do not want to shy away from that but it has to be helpful to the pet at the right price, at the right place. This has been the theology from the very beginning, and I think we are able to match up to the biggest to biggest e-commerce website or specialist eCommerce sites.
Mr. Binoy– How many SKUs approximately do you have in your store and out of them, what is the kind of ratio between your own private level product vis a vis product supplied by other companies?
Mr. Akshay- We have about more than about 7,500 SKUs.We carry so many SKUs only because of the reason that I want to give hundred percent solutions to a pet parent. If there is any pet product available in the market for the pets and it is good for the pets, I will have it.We will not shy behind it irrespective of the cost or margins. Out of 7,000 products, my private label has about 2000 SKUs, which includes affordable range of toys, trees, accessories, and, other stuff.
Mr.Binoy –Do the customers order the products online or do they have to call you? What is the process right now?
Mr. Akshay– For the past four months, we have been trying to develop our e-commerce website. We are very focused on providing those solutions to a customer.They can always go to my website, the pet store, and order from there. We are offering a 24 hour delivery pan on pan Delhi NCR level through strategic store locations. We have a WhatsApp network where a lot of customers connect to us through it. They can easily shop through WhatsApp and pay us through it. I think our technology has given us a lot of lifelines to increase our business and we are taking advantage of the same.
Mr.Binoy– It has been more than 10 years now. What has been your learning as an entrepreneur?
Mr.Akshay– As an entrepreneur, when you enter into a business and try to sell products or any services, one thing you must learn is to know how to sell yourself. If you are able to sell yourself to people, you are able to market yourself to the community and that’s how you become a brand.I think I have learned that very late in my life that a lot of marketing has to be done on personal level. I consciously try to be out there now. We are outspoken but also introverted in nature and we do not want to beat drums about ourselves but the market and competition demands that from us. It is important to not ignore that the customer is very intelligent.At this time of technology being available in hand, you cannot just sell your products or sell your services at your will.Every customer who is coming in is very informative. They know what they are buying, they know what they are getting into and that has been the trend change in the last few years.
Mr.Binoy –Your last thoughts on the rise and the development of the pet speciality retail in India?
Mr. Akshay– It has been a wonderful post Covid Era for pet industry, and everywhere in the world. I think the only message or suggestion I would love to give to my fellow pet industry specialists is that we need to promote more adoption of pets. The industry grows only when the pets are getting adopted. The kind of motivation we should have is , how many pets you have gotten adopted in this month or in a day. So once you do that, you’re helping yourself and you’re helping the entire industry.
Mr.Binoy – Thank you for your time sir.