Petco’s John Lazarchic On Web Site Improvement
TM: How much thought is given to what animals are featured on the site?
JL: We try and do what we call “an animal homepage” for each animal type, so as you’re going through the site, if you go to dog, cat or bird, each of those will be very specific to the pet. But we tend to work with dogs and cats on the main homepage because that [mirrors] the majority of customers.
TM: One of the great things about your Web site is the “Shop By Pet Type.” Is that something you’ve had for a long time and simply fine-tuned?
JL: Yes, that’s really been the strategy since the site originally launched in 1999. We’ve always segmented the shopper by pet type because you do have to treat them very differently, and obviously the products you’re promoting have to be very targeted. Other sites, such as electronics, may have much broader appeal of their product line. [But] with the pet category, it has to be very targeted; if we showed fish products on the homepage and you’re a dog customer, much of that page may be irrelevant to you. So that creates a challenge for us: getting the customer to their almost mini Web site of shopping that’s relevant to that user as quickly as possible.
TM: What are a few of the recent improvements you’ve made to your site?
JL: The push in the last year has been adding customer reviews to the Web site. It’s been about 18 months, but really exploded in the last year since we launched customer ratings and reviews. The feedback from the customers as far as how much they like them and how important it is to their buying decision has been phenomenal—to the point that through our online survey tool, customers continuously rate online reviews as the number one reason they made a purchase, or the number one feature on the Web site they like.