There aren’t many mail order services that can say they’ve saved lives, but for Liquivite Vetfoods, it’s all part of a day’s work. The company was set up with the purpose of providing liquid food for poorly pets and has now become a European success story. We had a chat with owner Reg Smith to find out more about this amazing mail order business, and how he’s using Parcelforce Worldwide to get to animals in need more quickly.
Tell us about Liquivite Vetfoods and the service you provide to pet owners.
We market a canned pet food diet in the form of a creamy soup, which vets use to syringe-feed the sick, convalescent, post-operative cat or dog that’s unable or unwilling to eat. Liquivite has been sold to vets for many years, in the UK and other EU countries, and has recently found a market selling directly to pet owners.
So is the pet food you provide specifically for sick animals?
As well as for veterinary use, Liquivite is useful for feeding pets who may be recovering from an ailment, feeding the older cat and dog who are less able to handle solid foods, and for weaning – introducing meat into a kitten or puppy’s diet in a familiar liquid form, helping the transition to solids. Cat and dog rescue groups also find the product useful.
What prompted you to start a pet food business – did you spot a gap in the market?
My background was in consumer goods marketing, with what was then Carnation Foods (which is now part of Nestlé). I ran their pet food division, which included Go-Cat, and the idea of a liquid food was one I came across then. Although of no interest as a supermarket brand, I saw its potential appeal for veterinary use, and when I set up my own business, I sought and found a manufacturer to make Liquivite for me.
So, is there a large demand for this sort of pet food?
Well, in the UK, we supply the three major veterinary wholesalers – who supply the UK’s 3,000-plus veterinary practices – with all their requirements, including prescription diets, drugs and equipment. For mainland Europe, we have two distributors who supply agents in veterinary markets in most EU countries. The newer and fast-growing part of our business is online sales directly to pet owners in the UK. We promote the product online, for example using Google Adwords, and pet owners can order directly from us.
Sounds like a slick operation. How important is speed of delivery with Liquivite? Can it literally be a matter of life or death sometimes?
Since Liquivite is often needed urgently, we find our ability to promise next-day delivery using Parcelforce Worldwide’s express24 is a very big marketing plus. Our website promises that an order placed by noon will be shipped on the same day for delivery on the next working day. This is a very positive inducement to buy, and we find Parcelforce Worldwide very reliable. We can book that day’s collections around noon, have parcels collected later in the day, and, through parcel-tracking, we see when the delivery has been made. The reaction from our customers to this level of service is very positive indeed. We sometimes find ourselves receiving phone calls asking whether we can supply Liquivite urgently. Being able to say that we can ship that day and provide next day delivery is always well-received.
Some of your customer testimonials say Liquivite has saved their pets’ lives! That’s some serious job satisfaction.
We have a very unusual product, in that it can indeed play a role in saving a pet’s life. I cannot find a way of articulating an answer; I can only say that it’s very gratifying to receive compliments from grateful pet owners.