- App-connected dog houses are coming to eight QFC grocery locations in the Seattle area, according to a press release from Brooklyn-based pet startup DogSpot. QFC will be the first grocer in the Pacific Northwest to introduce the dog houses inside stores.
- DogSpot’s dog houses are intended to offer shoppers a safe spot to place their dogs while grocery shopping since pets are not allowed in stores due to health regulations. The houses are lockable, self-sanitizing and temperature controlled and also connect to a "puppy cam" through the DogSpot app.
- The DogSpot houses will arrive in late May at QFC stores in Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, Ballard, Wallingford, Kirkland, Redmond and University Village. The service will be free of charge for QFC customers.
For Kroger-owned QFC, a partnership with DogSpot is an opportunity to stand out to shoppers in the Seattle grocery market, where it competes head-to-head with retailers including Whole Foods and Safeway. QFC President Suzy Monford said in a statement that this effort is part of the banner’s goal to offer a "friendly, uplifting shopping experience" and eliminate a barrier to shopping for pet owners.
Seattle, a pet-centric city where dogs outnumber children, was just named the best dog city in the nation by pet care company Rover, according to the Seattle Times. It's advantageous for QFC and DogSpot to cater to the large population of dog-loving shoppers — many of whom take their dogs with them when they run errands.
The pet industry is booming. According to the American Pet Products Association, consumers spent $72 million on their pets last year. Petsmart-owned Chewy.com has just announced plans to go public, and pet startups are addressing everything from dog beds to DNA tests.
Pet food is also a growing category for grocery stores as more owners are on the hunt for higher quality food for their pets, from fresh ingredients to raw or freeze-dried foods that offer more protein. Nielsen research found that sales of fresh pet food in grocery and pet stores grew 70% to more than $546 million from 2015 to 2018.
QFC, along with many other grocery stores, has a complete offering of pet food and supplies for dog and cat owners including food, treats, supplies like grooming essentials and beds, as well as toys. DogSpot, on the other hand, fills a new space in the pet industry, partnering with retailers to ensure consumers’ pets can accompany them on their shopping trips. The company currently has more than 60 dog houses in 14 states, with plans to add 300 more houses this year.