RC Pets (rcpets.com) – Innovating in Online Retailing

July 8, 2018

Key wins:

  • A 29% increase in sales.
  • Online sales accounted for more than 12% of total sales within just six months of launch, up from less than 2%.
  • The sales team now uses the site as a key demonstration tool to drive new business, especially at trade shows.
The Challenge A local pet products manufacturer (mainly dogs and cats) needed to overhaul its B2B website. The site—once fresh in 2002 and generating nearly 20% of orders—had become outdated, causing orders to plummet to an estimated 2% of total sales. Not only did customers find products increasingly hard to find, but smaller retailers, who preferred online ordering over phoning sales reps, struggled to place orders with the complex order matrix. RC Pets has thousands of SKUs and sells to retailers only. The former online ordering system forced users to individually select each colour choice by name or number (some products have dozens of colours) and then each size, resulting in frequent mistakes and faulty orders. This cost the company thousands in managing customer complaints, redoing orders, taking back shipments, etc. In addition, falling sales linked to this key aspect of the business was blocking growth. For business reasons, the redesign also needed to highlight and differentiate RC Pets’ three brands: RC Pet Products, Canine Equipment and Canine Friendly. The objectives were to find a way to support this business requirement, make all of products easy to locate and support users’ improved understanding of the three signature brands. The Solution To bring all of the products together in one unified experience, while spotlighting the three signature brands, we suggested a “three brands, one house” strategy. We integrated the three brands in an All Products section, but also showcased the them individually in three linked homepages. To highlight products and leverage the Lululemon of pet products’ overall brand attribute, we avoided using the same approach other pet products retailers use; AKA, boring, technical and with few images. Our team opted instead to take cues from the fashion and design industries and use large hero images for products, making sure we included people with their pets wherever possible, as well offering the opportunity to zoom in, see different colours and swatches, and so on. We also dug deep into the online ordering system, the source of so many errors and costs. Our first big win was to make the process progressive: instead of showing a whole order form with hundreds of SKUs, we walked the user through a quick and easy step-by-step matrix selection. The second win was allowing simple and fast copying of steps. That meant, for instance, if you ordered 10 collars in one colour/swatch in one size, we made it a simple one-button click to do that across sizes and different colours/swatches. The combination of the progressive disclosure and one-click completion means a system that does a lot of the thinking for the user. It’s fast, intuitive and reduces errors dramatically. The RC Pets site launched to great success with retailers eagerly using the newly redesigned—and vastly improved—online ordering system and reporting overwhelmingly positive feedback.