With days that sometimes consist of pet talent shows and treat madness brackets, paired with trade shows that have more kittens and puppies in attendance than people, Chris Holloway could very well have the most admired job by pet lovers across the country. Holloway, along with his dog Sadie, leads Amazon Pets, and he is excited for what’s to come for pet parents.
Outside of belly scratches and playing fetch, which admittedly comes with the territory, it is clear the Amazon Pets team takes its role within the pet industry very seriously.
“Amazon is uniquely positioned to help solve problems pet parents might face,” said Holloway. “We have engaged a panel of veterinarians to continue to improve the health and happiness of pets everywhere, and we are certain this is just the beginning of making the lives of pet parents easier.”
We chatted with Holloway and Sadie (who easily stole the show) to learn more about how they are shaping the future of Amazon Pets. We also found out what unique pet items are most popular, and discussed Amazon’s efforts to keep pets at the center of their pet parents’ world.
Let's start with somewhat of a controversial question: are you a dog or a cat person?
I am more of a dog person, but I also have two cats. My two children asked for kittens for years, and I knew I had to compromise, so now we have one for each. I will confess, the cats are great and have been a wonderful addition to the family.
Tell us about your pets.
Sadie is a nine-year-old lab and is very much still a puppy. I brought her to work with me today for the first time since our offices shut down from the pandemic, and she couldn't be happier. She is bouncing off the walls. She loves coming to the office with me. Unfortunately, my children are locked in a battle over the cats' names, so I can't even share their names until the kids agree. They have quickly become a big part of our family.
What does Sadie's day look like when she is in the office?
Our team gets a lot of samples because we work with brands and suppliers, so she's learned over time that if she goes desk to desk, everyone has treats. She hasn't skipped a beat being back in the office. She is going desk to desk knowing that treats will come.
So, Sadie is having the best day ever.
She is basically a stomach with a cute face, and her day is made.
Now that we know about Sadie's role at Amazon, how would you describe your role?
My role is to take care of pet parents in the U.S. Whatever pet parents need, my team works hard to get it for them. One of our biggest focuses is getting items to pet parents quickly and saving them trouble from having to run to the store last minute. If we can deliver pet food to homes fast (e.g., same day or next day), we're doing a better job for pet parents.
Curiosity has really guided my career. Amazon is a great place to foster diverse experiences.
Pets are very, very important in our lives. How is Amazon working to make sure customers feel that they can trust the company when shopping for their pets?
We have created our own specialty customer service department made up of pet lovers. These customer service agents are trained to be more knowledgeable about pet products. Naturally, they are empathetic when something goes wrong, which is very important when it comes to pets. Customer service agents go through special training with our partners and brands so they can be more knowledgeable with the products sold on Amazon.com. We piloted the program in 2020 and rolled it out to all customers last year.
How is Amazon making the hard part of having a pet easier for pet parents?
It's very important for us to have a strong relationship with the veterinarian community. We want to be learning about the most important and emerging issues or concerns as they relate to pets. We have an advisory panel made up of veterinarians who we meet with quarterly. We really thought it was important to have experts to connect with when we need objective advice and a counsel.
We leverage the panel to think big and to learn about how we can improve the health, safety, and welfare of pets and in particular, what can Amazon do, not just from a retail or consumer standpoint, but across the company.
How did the "pandemic puppy" boom impact your team?
We pretty quickly faced an issue with supply chain that we didn't see coming. Our team's number one goal is to keep the supply of inventory and product coming, and that hasn't been an easy task over the last two years. There were a lot of challenges for both Amazon and our suppliers that impacted raw materials, packaging, pallets, and almost every part of the supply chain.
What has surprised you about working within the pet industry and the customers shopping for their pets?
Pets are much more a part of the family than they were 20 years ago. People are getting married a little bit later, having kids a little bit later, and they are more likely to have pets in their 20s as a full member of their household and family.
How has Amazon helped pet parents make shopping for their pets easier?
To ensure pet parents are ordering the right quantity of food with each order, we built a program that is similar to an automated food calculator. It is a pet profile program and customers create one for each pet. A profile consists of the pet's name, a picture, age, weight, and any health concerns. Then, when a pet parent is shopping for food, we can quickly tell them how long that will last for their dog, which is one of the main questions customers have when they're evaluating what to purchase.
Amazon is hosting its first-ever Pet Day to celebrate Pet Month. How did that come to life?
Pet Day is a good example of individual entrepreneurship within Amazon. A member of the team came up with the concept last year after feeling we could do more for our customers during Pet Month. This person worked across all of Amazon to bring Pet Day to life. From an Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card holder offer to pet-related content on Prime Video, it was truly a huge effort and a great day of deals.
What is the most unique pet product that Amazon carries?
We started carrying a fully automated litter box last year. I was personally a little skeptical given the price point, but we have trouble keeping them in stock. And no, my cats don't have one, yet.
What is one of your favorite parts of your job?
It's fun to be around pets and thinking about how to better serve pet parents. When our team goes to trade shows, there are puppies and kitties everywhere—it is so much fun to be in that environment. We have more than 8,000 dogs at Amazon, and I am guessing the per capita is higher on the Pets team. When we are all in the office, we do a treats bracket to see what the most popular treat is among Amazon pets, chosen by the most important team: the dogs of Amazon.
How did you land this role?
Curiosity has really guided my career. Amazon is a great place to foster diverse experiences. I started in a finance role and had a desire to come over to the Pets team for a different experience and dramatic learning without leaving the company. I will say it is much harder to get stressed out when you are working alongside dogs.