- Biff Picone, CEO of Natural Pawz
The vision for Natural Pawz pet stores was born out of need: In 2001 Biff Picone and his wife Nadine Joli-Coeur adopted a dog, Callie, who had developed severe allergies. When the vet said Callie would have to endure allergy shots for the rest of her life, Nadine started researching natural ways to help her dog. That included talking to nutritionists and industry experts, as well as a diet change to natural foods for Callie.
Biff and Nadine learned much from their findings and wanted to help other pet owners get access to the highest quality food, treats, toys and supplies available for their furry friends.
When the couple opened the business in 2005, they had no retail background, but had a solid vision to make a positive difference within the Houston pet community.
"We're a resource, not just a pet store," Nadine said.
Biff added, "We want to be in everyone's neighborhood so people can shop local and get good nutrition for their pet. We're like the Whole Foods for pets. We don't feed our pets something we ourselves wouldn't eat."
What launched as a delivery business for natural pet foods has grown to a successful business of 22 Natural Pawz stores in Texas, a distribution channel, an online storefront and two more retail openings this year.
Initially, Natural Pawz used Intuit QuickBooks Multi-Store POS. Biff and Nadine both came from technology backgrounds, so they were able to take the software further than it was ever designed to go.
Nevertheless, Natural Pawz quickly outgrew the QuickBooks functionality -- so the hunt was on for a versatile POS that could keep up with a growing business.
POS & RETAIL MANAGEMENT NEEDS:
"We needed a solution that would have all the features and benefits of large scale POS so we could manage inventory better and transfer product between stores to maximize inventory turnover," said Biff. "So we chose Retail Pro."
Biff and Nadine connected with Big Hairy Dog, a seasoned 25-year Retail Pro Business Partner based in Sacramento, California.
Coming from a technology background themselves, Biff and Nadine saw the value of investing heavily in training to learn the full scope of functionality in Retail Pro.
"The Natural Pawz team had extensive Retail Pro training with a Big Hairy Dog IT specialist who came on site," said Nadine. "Big Hairy Dog has been very responsive to our needs."
One reason Retail Pro was so attractive for Biff and Nadine was the ability to look at the stores' entire sales history when evaluating trends and making decisions. They deployed it with a robust Oracle database to store the whole wealth of data Retail Pro produces.
The business takes advantage of the system's reports, including: sales per hour, vendor sales and purchases, customer reports, discount and product adjustments by reason codes.
Retail Pro also helped them track transfers between stores as well as ship-to-store items. It allowed them to do deeper reporting of vendor sales, manage outstanding purchase orders, set stock levels for automatic replenishment and project sales more accurately. In addition, Retail Pro helped resolve inventory accuracy issues that had popped up in QuickBooks.
"Inventory management in Retail Pro helps us determine if we are over-buying or under-buying, which has had a positive impact on fill rates and sales," said Nadine.
Natural Pawz is also actively pursuing ways to help customers shop with them more conveniently from both their physical and digital channels, and to keep coming back.
"We love that Retail Pro has a lot of plugin opportunities," said Biff. "We've integrated tools to help us run our business more efficiently, including ship-from-store fulfillment services akin to the Uber of delivery."
In addition, they use loyalty from Astro, a software database specialized for pet retailers, to help them track vendor promotions, such as purchase 11 bags and receive the 12th bag free, aimed to generate repeat business. "Retail Pro grows with us as we grow," said Biff.
Substantial customizability in Retail Pro empower Natural Pawz to adapt their software to future industry trends that shape and change the way they do business.
They use customer data in Retail Pro to identify and target their frequent and infrequent buyers, creating special promotions for each and inviting them to community-specific, in-store adoption events.
"We focus on the local community and encourage people to become foster pet parents. We want people to adopt forgotten pets," they said.
Today, the company credits Retail Pro POS software with helping increase sales performance and improve efficiency in their operations – which enables them to invest more time in the element of their business that's closest to their hearts.