Greg Mote is the one of three owners of Sleepypod, a supplier of premium pet carriers. Here Mote discusses differentiating with Sleepypod, focusing on boutique business and driving growth through the company’s online presence.
Pet Insight: What makes your product it stand out and differentiate from other carriers?
Greg Mote: Our main feature is we try to make it the most comfortable way for your pet to travel. We try to make it a bed you take with you instead of a box your pet goes in. We want it to be a bed they can use anytime and at home, so that when you travel, you just strap them it to the seats and off you go.
PI: Since your product is at a higher price point, is that something customers are still ok with?
GM: Definitely seems like it. In the beginning when we started, it was a little harder to sell. People were just starting to think about traveling with their pet safely, and not just putting them in the basic cardboard box. Now people are realizing “We like our pets, we want them to be comfortable, and not just bring them along for our pleasure.”
PI: Who do you see as your primary competition?
GM: That depends on which area. There’s a couple companies that have nice-looking carriers. Pet Ego has good stuff that does well in lots of the same markets. There are lots of others that are more fashion style and we don’t consider them competition. Whole different world than the one we’re working in.
PI: How do you work with differing airline regulations?
GM: It’s easy for the smaller carrier like the Atom [line], which is even smaller than the minimum size for the airline regulations. For our biggest carrier [line], Air, what we did is make it compressible, squeeze down into the spaces the airline has as their official space. That one took several years to figure out to make it look good and be safe and to do the job. And now the Air is our top-selling carrier.
PI: What types of retailers do you prefer working with?
GM: Definitely little boutique shops, they like to pamper their pets more, nicer high-end products, that’s definitely where we found the most success. What we focus on in our searches for new shops, we look for the nice ones, where there’s some good foods and good toys, and see if they also carry those other nice products too, then we know they know what they’re doing.
PI: Do you do much of your business in online sales?
GM: Yeah. I don’t know what percentage, but it’s pretty significant. We sell lots on our website, we work lots with drop shippers, that’s a significant chunk of sales. We sell everything at full MSRP on our website, so it’s a wide variety of things. A lot of people like buying direct from the manufacturer. So we get a decent amount of traffic to our own site directly.
PI: Are you satisfied with your company’s online presence?
GM: We have good people working on it. We’re working on a new version of our site, trying to bring together more features. We’re trying to bring in more modern technology and tools in the next version. [We’re] trying to bring in more video and slideshows, more linking in more accessible forms.
PI: Do you see pet travel as part of the pet industry that will continue to grow?
GM: Definitely. Traditional travel in the car has been steady, and a lot of airlines are making it easier to travel with pets, so I’m thinking people will be able to travel further with their pets than ever before as airlines get stuff worked out and easy to manage. So I think that’s an area of definite growth opportunity.