Driven by heart for pets and pet parents

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Kayam Charania
Amirali Charania
ShakeHands is a brand that understands pet parents’ requirements and has slowly emerged to be one of the leading names in the pet care industry. Let’s know more about the brand, its journey, and how they are winning hearts. –by Amirali Charania

Starting the journey with small steps and a big heart!
During the early 70s there were requirements for pet collars, leashes, tie-chains and training products like trainer chains. However, there was a minimal supply of imported products in the market. Looking into the potential for an indigenously developed pet product range, Kayam Charania began their journey in the pet industry by developing the brand Kennel. Eventually, ShakeHands was developed as a retail brand which started with a single store at Crawford Market (Mumbai) and later expanded to a chain of pet stores across the city retailing a wide range of pet articles, food, toys and accessories. Today, we have five stores in Mumbai at Tardeo, Colaba, Crawford Market, Goregaon and Thane.

Celebrating milestones as we prepare for the road ahead
For a small business every achievement matters. But the one milestone that we think has been a game changer for us is our website launch. Amirali Charania (son of Kayam), Zohara Charania (daughter of Kayam) and Sabiha Charania (daughter-in-law of Kayam) joined the business and launched the website www.shakehands.co.in in 2013. The website extended the geographical reach of ShakeHands from south Mumbai to entire India.

They also launched the ShakeHands mobile application (one of the first exclusive pet products shopping apps in the pet industry), available for download for iOS and android. The app increases the ease and convenience of shopping and makes the ordering process very smooth.

In 2019, all the ShakeHands stores also acquired a pharmacy license and the stores have all the pet medicines available. So, now ShakeHands is a one stop solution for all the pet requirements.

Best of both worlds – online as well as in-store shopping
There is space and need for both physical as well as online stores. Online shopping compliments the physical stores. It definitely provides a lot of convenience to the shoppers, but the personal connection that brings in the customer’s comfort and trust can only be provided by physical stores. However, physical stores have geographical and store time limitations which is not the case for online shopping. So, I believe in building omni-channel stores which gets us the best of both worlds.

Online shopping has been a major boon to the customers who stay in remote places and need specific products that the local stores don’t stock due to limited demand. The trend seems to be that customers shop at the local physical stores for regularly required products like food, treats, etc. whereas go online for very specific products like a toy, collar, or a T-shirt. Since these products are not a necessity, they are ok with an extended delivery time as well.

In-synch with responsible pet parenting
Pet parents have evolved with the time. Earlier a major source of information for most pet parents was the pet stores. Pet parents used to inquire at the stores about the brand of food to feed, the quantity of food, type of toy required, etc. But now with a lot of content available on social media, YouTube videos, training websites, etc. pet parents are more informed.

With the increase in awareness of pet adoption, many pet parents are adopting pets rather than getting a pure breed pet. This is particularly increased during the pandemic, which has led to a growth spurt in the industry.

Perils of pandemic
Pandemic was a tough time initially during March and April 2020 as there was chaos due to lack of information. However, once the laws were made clear that pet shops are exempted from lockdown, things started to ease out a little. Even then our store staff had to take utmost care and had to risk their safety to serve the pet parents. We are glad that the pet parents were also accommodative, as initially when deliveries were not allowed pet parents drove all the way to the store to get the basics for their beloved furry friends.

During the pandemic we also worked with various NGOs which were feeding the homeless pets. Our team ensured regular stocking and delivery of the food to the NGO’s and it was our way to give back to the society.

Reflecting back on the journey of pet industry and hoping for a bright future
The industry has seen significant growth in the past decade. Also since the pandemic there has been an increase in pet adoptions. I see the growth being sustained over the next decade as well. With the increase in the market, more players will be entering the market in various segments to match the increased demand.

The market will get more organised and will be dominated by chain of stores or big online stores. Also, I foresee start-ups entering the space which will lead to innovation. As the markets continue to grow the giant corporate names and big established brands too will eye to get a piece of the pie. With more players and more competition in the market pets and pet parents will be spoilt for choice and quality.

The sector is growing and there are good opportunities in the industry. However, one has to be very careful with finance and planning for a more organic and sustainable growth model.

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