Whether you are a dog or cat person – or prefer another animal – pets are big business, and they are helping to drive innovation in various areas of commerce.
That includes ridesharing, believe it or not.
SpotOn Founder Aparna Srinivasan was inspired to start her company because of her dogs. When traveling with them, it was tough for her to find a ride, especially to the airport. To see if other pet owners shared her same pain point, Srinivasan sat outside the United and American terminal outside of LAX airport. She asked those who came in with an animal how they got there, and whether they would use a more convenient method if it was available. Based on the responses, she realized she wasn’t alone.
While consumers can travel with their pets today, Srinivasan said, “it’s not as easy as people might think.” Hotels accept pets, airlines let travelers bring their pets on flights and many restaurants let consumers bring their animals along. “But actually getting there is the problem,” she noted.
To tackle the challenge, Srinivasan started a ride-hailing service for pets (and their human companions). Consumers can download the company’s app on the Apple Store or Google Play to start using the service. They can fill out information such as the date and time they want to be picked up. The app can also detect the pickup location if the user has location services enabled.
As of now, the app requires consumers to place reservations at least two hours in advance. “We are not an on-demand system just yet,” Srinivasan noted. After the location is determined, consumers can enter their destination and indicate the number and type of pets they plan to bring on their trip. The request is then sent out to the drivers.
Meals and food delivery are part of the larger trend as well.
To provide customizable meal plans for dogs, eCommerce innovators are offering freshly cooked meals delivered to consumers through the subscription business model. Pet Plate, in one case, is a service based on the profile of each dog. “We develop a meal plan that fits to that dog’s age, weight, breed, lifestyle,” Pet Plate CEO Gertrude Allen told PYMNTS in an interview. Based on whether the dog is active or sedentary as well as overweight or underweight, the company will adjust the number of calories the dog will receive in each meal. In addition to meals, the company offers a topper plan that lets owners mix the company’s products into the food they already give to their pets.
The shipping frequency of the company’s meals varies, with the weight of the dog serving as the biggest driver. Small dogs might get a box every month, while larger dogs might receive a box every week. To sign up for a plan, consumers visit the company’s website to learn about its products and services.
Varieties run the gamut from “chompin’ chicken” to “barkin’ beef.” “The product is fresh-cooked, but it’s flash-frozen,” Allen said. The meals arrive frozen to stay preserved, and can be stored in a fridge for seven days or in the freezer for up to 18 months.
People tend to spend good money on their pets – and we can expect that more digital and mobile innovations are coming to consumers.