Pet supply e-commerce company Chewy (NYSE:CHWY) is expanding its business by offering telehealth services for pets. With this service, pet owners can get questions answered by a professional without having to leave their home.
Called Connect With a Vet, the pilot program began back in May, according to a press release on Wednesday. It's expanded some since then, but now Chewy says it's ready to take its telehealth offering nationwide.
The coronavirus pandemic is pushing businesses to create solutions to new problems. Having acknowledged the challenge of going to a veterinarian's office these days, Chewy CEO Sumit Singh said, "So, we thought, 'Why not come up with a solution that can help both communities, our customers and veterinarians, in this time of greatest need?'"
In 2020, there's been a surge in telehealth services for humans. For example, HeyDoctor, part of GoodRx, saw its adoption double in the early days of the pandemic. The surge has continued with the company facilitating over 1,000 visits per day since September. Similarly, total visits across Teledoc's platforms were up 144% year over year in the first half of 2020.
Chewy noticed this human trend and launched a pet option. Connect With a Vet is free for customers enrolled in Chewy's Autoship program, which allows users to receive pet products like food on a schedule at a discount. It's been very successful for the company, accounting for 68% of total sales in the second quarter of 2020.
By offering Connect With a Vet exclusively to Autoship customers, it appears Chewy would like to see its membership increase even further. It makes sense since Autoship provides Chewy with predictable revenue in an otherwise hard-to-predict retail business.