This past week everyone from Forbes to Mashable, CNBC to the LA Times has been scrambling to tell the story of Chewy.com – one of the fastest growing ecommerce sites on the planet who has just become the biggest ecommerce acquisition in history. I love stories like this because they prove, once again, just how plentiful the feast is at our table! Paws up for the pet industry kicking ass and taking names, eh!? Take that Jet.com and Walmart!
All of these media outlets have reported that Chewy.com has flown ‘under the radar’ while doing nearly a billion in revenue in 5 years. * take a moment to let that sink in * That’s INSANE!!
Want More Helpful Case Studies like this one?
But How… Why?
Those of you who know me and this space, know that I want to start conversations like this with WHY. Aside from the remarkable sum, I wasn’t surprised by this story… Mostly because the last time I saw Chewy in the news it was this article about how exceptional their customer service is. It’s not hard to see, with a visit to Chewy.com, why they are successful. One of the first things you’ll encounter on their site (boldly taking up VALUABLE sales real estate, I might add, an indication of just how important it is…) is their welcome statement, their WHY:
“Being a pet parent is one of the best things in life. And we understand because we’re pet parents too. In fact, Chewy.com was founded by people with a serious passion for helping pets. They wanted to make the process of finding food, treats and all that good stuff easy to find–and deliver it straight to your doorstep. Headquartered in Dania Beach, Florida (yes, we wear sandals all the time), Chewy.com’s dedicated staff–furry and non-furry alike–are committed to providing the kind of service that makes you go “wow.” Our warehouses all over the country can ship the freshest, highest quality products–and fast. And our amazing gals and guys in customer service are here day and night to help. Bottom line is, we’re here to make pet happiness happen.” < from Chewy.com
Then you get their Customer Promise (again, more valuable real estate that most ecommerce sites would be filling-to-the-gills with products):
“Only the Best Our pets show us love at every turn and rely on us to take care of them. That’s why we only offer the best brands of pet food, treats, and supplies– because they deserve it.
Agents of Awesomeness, 24/7/365 Simmering in sunny Dania Beach, FL, our knowledgeable and friendly customer service team (we can’t get them to stop smiling!) is available 24 hours a day, every single day of the year. That means a real person is always here to help.
Seriously Fast Shipping Whoa–that was fast! Place your order before 4pm ET and it will ship the same day. We figure there’s no time to waste when your furry family needs their food, treats and goodies.
Freshness Guaranteed All of our food and treats ship directly from our own warehouses which means it’s the highest quality possible and always fresh, guaranteed.
Lots of Goodies for your Pets We’ve got over 18,000 items in stock and ready to ship. Whether it’s the food that keeps their bellies full or the toys they cuddle up with at night, we’ve got it all.
365 Day Hassle-Free Returns Not every purchase can be a home run, and we get it. That’s why our policy is simple: if you (or your pet) are not 100% totally, completely, and unconditionally satisfied for any reason whatsoever, let us know! Here at Chewy.com, you’re in good paws.
We Know Pet Stuff We realize you’re going to have questions about the products you’re buying. That’s why we work hand in hand with all of our brands so our customer service team can answer any question you might have. We research, attend lectures, and keep up with the latest trends so we can pass on our knowledge to you.” < from Chewy.com
What are they Actually Saying?
Personalized: We are in the US and we are real people and we ‘get it’ from your pets’ standpoint
Knowledgeable: You can trust the products we sell, you can call and ask us questions – yes you can ACTUALLY call… which leads to…
Trust: We manage our own supply chain (we’re not an affiliate network) so we can guarantee quality, speed and freshness (< Which we know really matters to you!)
Making it EASY: We are taking away fear and objections out of online purchasing, with super easy returns, stupid-fast shipping and HUGE selection (< Matching the appeal of Amazon but we’re pet experts)!
Surprise & Delight: We send hand-written THANK YOU cards to our customers – because we care. Yes, while also earning MORE THAN $100 million a MONTH in revenue – we’re super organized and we prioritize what matters to YOU along with what matters to US.
All of this is meant to make you feel really good about doing business with Chewy.com (and was no-doubt put together based on data about why people do or do not purchase their pet products online). There’s no doubt really at this point… I’m in! I’m buying! of which can also pretty much be summed up with this quote from Chewy CEO Ryan Cohen:
Now how’s that for a brand statement? Now fancy marketing language, just clean and simple, honest to goodness VALUE.
Million Dollar Dog Brand
Basically, Chewy.com is 100% smashing the Million Dollar Dog Brand formula:
- Sensational Product
- Sensational Brand
In this case, their product is a retail service: an almost-impossible to compete with online pet shopping experience as fast and efficient as Amazon, as friendly and trust-worthy as your local pet store but with the selection of a pet superstore, as automated and personalized as BarkBox (… did I mention the hand written Thank You cards?) all while delivering GREAT pricing ‘hassle-free returns’ and 24 hr. customer service.
Built on convenience and value PLUS the all-important trust-factor based on the idea that they ‘get it’ when it comes to pets AND they value great customer service ABOVE ALL. If I had to guess at their brand pillars I’d say they were:
- Value (great prices, free shipping)
- Quality (fresh, high quality products only, you can trust what we sell
- Delight (huge selection to choose from, personal touches, knowledgable staff)
- Ease (convenient, fast, bend-over-backwards 24 hr Service, tons of choice)
- Pets (we have pets, we ‘get it’, we care about animals and their needs)
Overall: Making happy easy for pets their parents The genius here is they have managed to combine SO MANY pleasure points for pet parents, that they seem almost impossible to compete with!
So, their website makes a lot of claims, but do they actually make GOOD on these promises? It’s all well and good to put all that awesome stuff out there, but do they actually DO it…
In short: yes.
Based on 200k + reviews, Google gives them 4.9 stars out of 5 and 8.9 out of 10 (4 stars out of 5) on Trust Pilot (that’s 91.5% 5-Star!) Can I just remind you, they do 100 MILION a MONTH in revenue!? That is seriously impressive ‘walkin your talk’ while also brining home the bacon (any other cheesy cliches we can squeeze in there?)
Why Should I Care?
You don’t need to be destined for a billion dollar buyout for this to matter to you. Here are some small business realities that this bit of news has reinforced:
- Small businesses and entrepreneurs have a decided advantage over the ‘big guys’ because they have the vision, agility and guts to do things differently (Imagine if PetSmart tried to start doing hand-written thank you notes – how many months of board meetings and what kind of logistical nightmares would they have to endure to make that happen?) One of the greatest advantages here is your proximity to your customer. You’re SO CLOSE to the people who buy from you – you talk to them! This is an invaluable asset that big corporations spend MILLIONS trying to replicate with focus groups and other data collection techniques.
- Making it as easy as humanly possible for your customers to buy from you is absolutely critical (Chewy’s has mastered the art of making it easier to buy from them than anyone else – free fast shipping, a great price, free easy returns, tons of selection, 24 hr. customer service – why wouldn’t you!?) Just because you don’t have millions in seed capital does not mean you can’t do a LOT to overcome your customers’ primary objections and make your purchase experience easy and enjoyable! Prioritize this. Like, right now.
- Do what you say you’re going to do. Then do it better. Do not underestimate how powerful exceeding your customers’ expectations can be. This is an ESSENTIAL piece of building a brand. It’s not all nice packaging and cool instagram feeds. Now, admittedly, this is hard and we are all going to suck at it once in a while. But learn from your mistakes and create a process, make a change or get some accountability so you don’t repeat the same fumble.
If you take nothing else from this case study, have a look at Chewy.com and analyze how it makes you FEEL. The brand pillars and promises throughout the site, the youtube videos to help teach you what they say they’re experts in, the huge selection…
I challenge you to take 30 min. to look over it all (including a peek at their social media) and ask yourself: What can you I away from this to apply to my own brand / website?