Amazon, Hawaii, Indiana discussed on This Day In Esoteric Political History
They seem to vary bad at selling pet supplies right. I mean it's one of these things. It's a different moment in time but there was this hope that the internet was going to transform everything which obviously it did but there was this belief that if you just put dot com at the end of something then it was going to be huge and to a certain extent. Pets.com had a really solid idea. I mean i don't know if either of you have pets but we dot com is a home. Delivery pet products service however shipping logistics. There were a lot of things that were not figure it out in one thousand nine hundred nine two two thousand and one that made it almost impossible to turn a profit on pet food and pet products. Well this is. This is something i think about a lot because with pets.com because when you think about we can get into some other examples when you know when you think about disruptors in dot com disruptors a lot of them do sometimes address like big parts of our life like even airbnb is like travel and You know uber is about transportation like these sort of more fundamental things and to me. It's always been in the back of my head like pets.com like it's just pet food or it's like a chew toy like why. Why did people say that. This was the big unicorn disruptor. But i will also say just to complicate it. In listening to your episode julia. I think you make a pretty good case that actually like pets are really a big part of people's lives and that actually you know when you build a product. You want to do something that connects to something that people really impassioned by. And so maybe pets.com was the thing to kind of drive. This massive new wave of internet disruption absolutely. I mean it was a twenty three billion dollar industry. The pet product industry. So like of course you would want in on that there were a lot of there was a lot of room for growth to be clear and it's not a terrible idea. People didn't want to hauling cat litter up four flights of stairs is not like i would love to not have to do that. You know but it also the company they were flying the airplane as they built it which I don't know anything about aerodynamic engineering. But it doesn't seem like a great setup you know what i find interesting is. That amazon was pretty heavily. Invested in pets.com. And you look at both of those models and you can imagine as an outsider who knows nothing about economics which is me Thinking that those are basically the same idea by one was massively. Successful in one wasn't right. I mean it's important to remember that amazon. At that time was mostly books. It was mostly competing against barnes and noble and borders and it was mostly shipping books. I mean the only thing that i can think of. That's different is that there's not as much markup in a pet supplies and so there wasn't really the room to make the kind of money that jeff bezos was making over there at amazon. The margins are razor thin on pet products and the products are very heavy. Which if you're shipping from. I don't know if you're shipping from indiana where they had a warehouse to hawaii. That's pretty expensive. Shipping wise amazon. Just had more money. Like amazon had more time and they were super hyper focused on customer happiness so they would ship free replacements all the time if and that's a pretty expensive thing to do if a customer was unhappy so they kept getting repeat customers and one of the the marketing experts that i spoke to in the production of of this show basically said that like pets.com did not have a lot of repeat customers. People were using pets.com they were. They had a magazine that was like super glossy and beautiful but like it was basically being used to give twenty five dollar off coupons. So they kept giving discount and discounts and discount but they didn't have a lot of repeat customers. And that's a real problem at the beginning of a business and also jeff bezos. Just got to hang around a lot longer clearly. But you do get that sense with pets dot com that you know that maybe the people who ran it were more interested in having a dot com. Then you know providing people with pets supplies and like yeah. I a cat. I got my stuff that you e- and like the one of the things they do right well first off. You know they turn you into really customer very easily because you can do like recurring default but then also like it just has this vibe of like we're into pets and this is about pets whereas pets.com had this vibe of like we're going to ride this rocket ship internet thing and it just so happens to be the pet thing and i feel like often. That's the place where the red flag goes up. Yeah exactly that makes so much sense. I mean chewy. The main difference between two dot com and pets.com is like ten years of logistics and internet improvements and also that like recurring order function allows them to plan revenue. In a way that pets.com was not able to plan their revenue also pets.com ultimately they really invested in the thing that they were good at and the thing that they were good at was marketing and and it was a time when many many companies were just like. Okay if you want to get to the moon. You're gonna like the rocket you're gonna ride is tv advertising and having a really clever ad and getting it everywhere was sort of like the number one technique for trying to get the word out there. It just kind of points to the limits of the mascot as a form of branding like it's a great form of entertainment. An ice certainly still remember the sock puppet. Even though it's men like two decades but companies like amazon and companies like chewy. I don't think they have mascots right but they managed to stick around nonetheless because they were actually able to deliver goods. They were actually able to meet a need in a way that they weren't so was brilliant. Advertising it had this kind of stickiness that very few mascots actually do but.