2 Lessons We Should Learn From Chewy.com About Business Gifts

Many of us are familiar with Chewy.com, especially if you are a pet owner. I didn’t have too much familiarity with Chewy until recently when a family member described it as the “Amazon for pets”—a description that immediately caught my attention.

Although Chewy is known for their great prices, fast shipping, and pet-centric brand, we’re coming up on the anniversary of an event that we should all learn from. This past year one of Chewy’s clients, Sheree Flanagan, experienced the loss of her beloved dog Zoe. Not soon afterward, Sheree’s 15-year-old cat, Thor, passed away. As many of you know, the loss of a pet can be heartbreaking especially when they’ve been with you for many years.

Sheree was heartbroken. Since she had recently purchased some pet food before Zoe and Thor’s passing, she had a large excess of food that she no longer needed. She decided to call Chewy.com to see if she could make a return. Instead of being greeted by an irritable customer-service rep, she was comforted by one of Chewy’s reps (Ashley) that encouraged Sheree to share about her recent loss.

A week later a florist’s van pulled into Sheree’s driveway and delivered a bouquet of flowers with a note about from Ashley that expressed her condolences. Attached to the note was a full refund for all of the recent food that Sheree had bought.

I initially thought that this type of event was an anomaly, but later realized that this happens quite often. If you scour the internet, you’ll find examples of bereaved pet owners sharing about how Chewy “really cares.”

Chewy obviously did something right or there wouldn’t be a so many articles written about them. So, here’s what we can learn from Chewy’s generous, timely, and thoughtful gifts. 

#1 - Give Gifts During Uncommon Milestones or Holidays  

When it comes to business-related gifts (client gifts, employee gifts, donor gifts, etc.), most people feel the need to give one around the classic milestones or holidays (Christmas, when the client signs up, an employee work anniversary, etc.). The downside of giving gifts within these typical milestones is that they are often expected. Furthermore, many of the recipients will be receiving gifts from other friends, partners, and organizations during these times. So, if you’re looking to make an impact on the individual and differentiate your brand, it will be more difficult during these “crowded moments” in the recipient’s life. On the other hand, if you think about opportunities to send someone a gift during an uncommon milestone or holiday, the potential to strengthen the relationship and differentiate your brand is much higher. I’d still recommend making the gift meaningful and special (of course), but you’re going to get more relational bang for your buck during these uncommon and uncrowded moments.

Chewy.com chose to gift during an uncommon milestone in their customer’s life (emphasis on customer). The milestone was meaningful to the customer yet uncommon enough that no one else was sending them something.

This is where Chewy got it right. They chose to gift during an uncommon milestone in their customer’s life (emphasis on customer). The milestone was meaningful to the customer yet uncommon enough that no one else was sending them something.

So, what meaningful and uncommon milestone or holiday could you leverage to send a gift to whoever matters the most to your organization?

#2 - Timing is Key

Many of us think that timing is not that important when it comes to sending gifts. Yet we often don’t realize how much the timing of a gift could affect the recipient.

You should always consider the timing of the gift as a part of the gift itself. If you think about certain milestones or moments in your own life, you’ll notice that there are usually emotions attached to them. This is exactly why timing is so important. You want to ensure the gift evoke the right emotions in the recipient.

The key to business-related gifts is to be strategic, and the more strategic you are the more likely you will strengthen your relationship with the individual.

So, if you decide to send a gift to someone, make it timely. If you’re targeting a certain milestone in their career or life, make sure it arrives early. Most people won’t remember the milestone until you send them something, so make sure it gets there early so they can bask in it when it does occur. If you have a hard time remembering to do this, set a reminder on your phone or calendar to have the gifts ordered by a certain date and delivered. The key is to be strategic, and the more strategic you are the more likely you will strengthen your relationship with the individual.   

Thank You Chewy

Although most organizations won’t have the opportunity (or probably shouldn’t) send pet bereavement gifts to their clients, Chewy capitalized on a chance to show their clients how much they care. At the end of the day, this is what your clients, employees, and donors want—to know that you actually care. So, consider sending something tangible, strategic, and timely to ensure that they know how much you really care.