We are thrilled to introduce our new series of articles – “Merchants to follow”. Its purpose is to present you with some of the most exciting and inspiring brands we have the pleasure and privilege to work for. This month, you can learn how Piesotto – a company founded by some true dog lovers out of genuine care for their four-footed “kids” – has become a leading subscription-based pet food supplier in Poland and one of the cutest brands we have ever seen.

When Sziszka, an always brisk and go-ahead French Bulldog, became languid and physically listless, her “dad” Bartek immediately realised that something was wrong. She had digestive problems and multiple allergic symptoms. After several appointments with a vet, some medication, and weeks of dietary experiments, it turned out that ready-made pet food that back then was dominating Sziszka’s diet was the main reason for her condition. After just a few days of feeding her with home-cooked food prepared out of prime-quality ingredients, Bartek noticed with relief that the problems of his beloved pet resolved completely. Sziszka’s energy and joyfulness were back, allergies and digestive problems were gone… and a new business idea was sprouting in her “dads” mind.

Pursuing quality and convenience from day one

The dietary needs of dogs are very different from those of humans. Therefore, cooking at home for a dog not only requires access to high-quality meat, vegetables and other ingredients but also consumes a lot of time and effort. One cannot really do it on the side when cooking for themselves, it’s a separate culinary task. When Bartek shared his observations and experiences with Karol – another dog lover, a pet “dad” of Franek – a West Highland White Terrier – after a lively discussion, they came to the conclusion that every dog deserves quality food, even if its owner has no time or skills for cooking. That’s how the business idea was born. The decision to develop the new company in the subscription model followed naturally, as convenience was the second – right after prime quality – key value that the new brand aimed to offer.

Powering bold ideas

Straal has been with Piesotto since the very beginning of its development. When back in 2018, Karol and Bartek were searching for a reliable payment solution that would enable smooth processing of recurring card-on-file transactions, their company was still at the drawing-board stage. The founders had a brilliant business vision and needed the right tools to materialise it. Despite the infancy stage of the project, Straal team crafted a personalised offer for the new venture and provided its founders with all the know-how necessary for understanding the role that payment solutions play in subscription commerce. Straal provides Piesotto with a smart payment gateway configured for collecting subscription fees from cards of all leading brands and gives the company access to its management and analytical suite – Kompas. Both tools play a critical role in Piesotto’s day-to-day operations. While Straal gateway and its subscription engine automatically charge subscribers’ cards with maximum effectiveness and cost efficiency, Kompas gives Karol and Bartek a full 360-degree view on their company’s financial condition.

Smooth subscription experience is a crucial part of Piesotto’s value proposition. The Piesotto experience consists of a few simple phases: a short survey on dog’s health condition, size and age, which enables picking the right dietary plan, selection of the best-fitting subscription plan, and – finally – payment and card vaulting, so that fresh, balanced, prime quality dog food is delivered regularly for as long as the subscription is active.

Cost optimisation with the Quality-First mindset

According to some reports, the global pet food market value is expected to exceed $113 billion by 2025, with an estimated CAGR of around 5%. Subscriptions are playing an ever more significant role in the development of the industry. However, the quality of most industrially produced, highly processed pet food leaves much to be desired.

The omnipresent pressure towards cost optimisation leads most producers to use low-quality ingredients, often even meat production waste. At the same time, long and complex distribution chains imply the need for extended storage periods and prompt an excessive use of preservatives.

Piesotto entered the market to give people and their beloved pets an alternative to industrially produced pet food. Therefore, saving on quality has never been an option for its founders. Instead of searching for cost optimisation in their merchandise, Karol and Bartek decided to look for effectiveness enhancement in the area of operations. Namely, in payment processing. When every declined payment might equal not only customer churn but a dog having to eat a processed meal, the stake is really high for any “pet parent”. That’s why the outstanding payment processing effectiveness of the Straal system contributes notably to the exceptional consumer experience of Piesotto.

Competing with habits

When asked about the company’s target market, Karol explains that their ambition is to primarily reach “pet parents” – people who treat their dogs like family members and believe that the quality of food they feed their animals should not be lower than this of the food eaten by other family members. He ensures that Piesotto offers “human grade” quality of food, though the recipes are adjusted to the specific nutrition requirements of dogs. Although this market segment is relatively small in Poland, it’s growing rapidly, and the company’s major challenges are associated mostly with logistics and consumer education. When asked about competition, Karol states clearly that Piesotto’s rivals are not big food companies but habits and routines of “pet parents” who have been for years either cooking for their dogs at home or buying overpriced “high-end” pet food in a local supermarket.

Pet parents don’t like changes. They are often afraid that their dogs might not like the subscription food – explains Karol. But as soon as they give it a try or meet someone who’s already done it, they change their mind right away. After just a few days of eating Piesotto, dogs feel better, have more energy, and many of their health issues resolve without medication.

Pet food subscriptions under the pandemic

Piesotto is among the businesses that under the COVID-19 pandemic are growing even faster than before. Under lockdown, going to a buy grocery is a way more difficult and uncomfortable task than usual. It encourages more and more dog owners to pet food subscriptions. The company has noted a significant increase in the number of new subscribers since March 2020. The goal is to retain as many as possible once the health crisis is over. Besides, Piesotto is continuously broadening its distribution network, reaching new cities and towns, building new partnerships, and sketching plans of further expansion.

I believe that as soon as the pandemic is over, people will be willing to spend less time in shopping malls and will consume more consciously. Quality will prevail over quantity. It’s an excellent opportunity for Piesotto and our four-footed friends – summarises Karol.

At Straal, we are very proud to be part of the success story of Piesotto.

If you are developing a subscription-based business and would like to learn how Straal can help you with payment processing and automation, drop us an e-mail at [email protected].

Looking for some practical tips? Download our Subscription Business Handbook.

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