CHWY – How Chewy Is Winning The Battle For Pet Owner Loyalty

Chewy’s customers have been singing its praises since the online pet products retailer launched in 2011. The company has built a loyal following with the fundamental understanding that pet parents regard their fur babies as significant members of their families.

“The only thing more important than getting your delivered prescription order correct is getting your delivered pet food order right, at least, that’s true for most pet owners,” wrote Ben Ball, senior vice president at Dechert-Hampe, in an online discussion on RetailWire last week, in which he and other members of the BrainTrust explored how the brand had made such an impact with customers.

Chewy Pet Paintings

In March 2020, Danielle Moore poses for photos with Kana and also paintings of the pet Australian … [+] cattle dog in Dallas. Chewy surprises customers with oil paintings of their furry friends, a move the company says wins them customers for life. (AP Photo/LM Otero)


The retailer has connected with Millennials and others by offering a wide selection of products, including prescription meds. Early on, the retailer jumped on the free two-day delivery bandwagon with a $49 minimum purchase requirement.

Of all the items that set Chewy apart, however, none may be more important than its direct 24/7/365 customer service operation that empowers employees to go above and beyond for their customers. Examples include sending a customer flowers to congratulate them on a wedding that was mentioned on a call. Another representative sent an unused keyboard from the company’s supply closet when a customer mentioned having a broken device.

 The Associated Press recently reported on the retailer’s practice of sending oil painting portraits of pets done from their profile pictures on the site. Chewy sends more than 1,000 free paintings every week.

Many members of the BrainTrust saw these moves as key to the retailer’s success. 

“What an amazing example of a customer-centric organization!” wrote Bindu Gupta, loyalty and marketing strategist at Comarch. “Chewy is doing all the right things in terms of solving their target audience’s pain points and going above and beyond to make them feel special. A customer-centric organization always helps build strong customer loyalty!”

“Chewy is a superb example of a human-centered, customer-centric brand,” wrote Jeff Hall, president of Second to None. “They understand the significance emotion plays in customer purchase intent and decisions, then leverage their ability to create genuine customer connections to build loyalty and expanded market share.”

Chewy has succeeded in building its sales, benefiting from conditions created by the novel coronavirus pandemic, as more consumers have gone online to purchase food, toys and other items for their pets. The retailer posted a 45 percent gain in net sales for the third quarter even as it continues to search for a path to profitability.

“I have been to their customer service center and it’s really impressive,” wrote Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at RSR Research. “I truly wouldn’t change a thing there. The profitability issues have to be in the supply chain.”

CEO Sumit Singh has banked the company’s hopes on attracting a growing number of new customers while gaining a larger share of sales among all shoppers. Mr. Singh has said in the past that Chewy was capturing less than half of the pet-related purchases made by its customers.

One RetailWire BrainTrust member pointed out that, in this respect, Chewy’s convenience for bulk buys could be working against it. 

“Unfortunately, one of the top reasons I shop with Chewy is one is its biggest obstacles to growth: I love having big, heavy stuff (cases of canned food, big bags of dry food) for my fur babies delivered right to my door quickly,” wrote Carol Spieckerman, president of Spieckerman Retail. “I also love having the ability to adjust my auto-ship dates. When it comes to toys, clothes, etc., I generally switch to Amazon AMZN or impulse grabs on my rare trips to an actual store. I’m sure I qualify for Chewy’s least favorite customer group, yet I have to believe others are similarly situated, and motivated.”

But even with room to grow, one BrainTrust member noted that retail in general stood to learn from Chewy’s way of doing business. 

“Any company that doesn’t lead with compassion and invest in better communication platforms with its customers will fall far behind the competition moving forward,” wrote David Adelman, founder of The Adelman Group.

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