Edgar Allan Paw, is Cambodia’s first boutique pet store. “The idea is to provide everything you need for your dog or cat under one ‘woof’!”, explains owner Tisha Shelley.
By that she means decent pet food, training tools, fun and pretty homewares for your pet, and cleaning products that are natural and of high quality. “We also make pet food onsite using supplements and minerals to increase the quality of your pet’s diet, and provide information and support for natural options against parasites such as ticks and fleas.”
Shelley comes from a digital marketing background, working for some of the leading brands in the world. “By acquiring a range of small business clients, I am able to work remotely and travel. When I came to Phnom Penh with my Sharpei, I saw how little there was here in terms of healthy dog food and options for pet supplies. Not to mention how limited spaces are for dogs to learn about each other and socialise, and for us pet parents to share knowledge! It seemed a logical choice for me to do, and work on improving what I could for pets and local dogs and cats.”
She then sat down and discussed with Ben Whitrod of Imagine, a property project management firm. Within three months, things were up and running.
Customer is king
When asked about any study or research she did before starting her business, Shelley explains: “I’ve been really lucky to have worked with and learned from a variety of amazing entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout my career in radio and digital marketing, and knew exactly what I wanted my brick and mortar store to look like, and how to make customers happy. The rule of thumb is customer service. I’m here to provide a space and service to customers, and that will ultimately lead to our success.
Service at Edgar Allan Paw is 24/7. It prides itself in delivering anytime for any need. “We provide support day or night for our customers’ pets if they are ill, or hurt or if someone finds a sick dog,” adds Shelley.
The menus and stock list are regularly updated, with customers actively asked to try new products and to provide feedback. “We are creating a community who guides us, and that will ultimately drive business growth.”
According to Shelley, for any business in Cambodia to succeed, it is important to diversify and know when to cut your losses. “Don’t rely on one line item to make your business grow. Keep adding to the mix and bettering what you offer. Never reach the point where you just sit day to day and don’t work on improving what you do. If something is not working or costing you too much money, time or stress, cut it and move onto something that will work for itself.”
Value for your dollar
Edgar Allan Paw may charge a tad higher than what may be available elsewhere, but it is convinced that price is not the only factor involved in choosing products or services. “There are hundreds of studies to show this. In fact, businesses that are successful cultivate community, reputation and a service level that is unbeaten. In our case, while we may have more expensive treats, pet food or toys, we also provide education and support that help our consumers understand why we sell what we do. The option is then theirs to choose as they like. In our case, when you understand the long-term effects or dangers of cheap food, or treats, it’s a no-brainer to spend the money now than later on vet’s bills while your pet is in pain. We are lucky to have the customers that we do, and we have to show them that no matter how often they come, price stops being an issue in the long-run.”
Using social media
The pet store primarily advertises, educates and cultivates its community through social media. “I left Hootsuite, a leading social media management company to come here, and I know intrinsically that social media will drive growth if it’s done right. Stop thinking of it as a business page and start showing your customers what you’re about, who you are and give them value in liking your page. The only other tactic we work on is public relations. We need more people to know about us, and based on my experience, you can do amazingly well with very little cash, but a lot of time spent instead growing your online reputation. Did you know that one person is exposed to roughly 5,000 ads a day? Yours will make no difference to that mix unless you give consumers a reason to want to learn more about you.”
Collaborating with others
Shelley counts among her allies in business Fair Sew for her own label of goods, Cambodia Knits for a ton of their stunning cat toys, and Discovery Farms for supplying them meat and organic vegetables.
“Right now we have been trying to reach out to local producers to grow our product line for both pet and human-related items that they can work with us on and sell their products here. A great example is Bumblebee, who helped us develop a pet soap from tea tree & eucalyptus oil to help skin conditions and dull coats, as well as providing us with a variety of soaps for our customers to pamper themselves. We’re always open to growing our offerings while staying true to our brand and what we want to achieve.”