Pet food retailer NomNomNow Inc. is no longer a young pup.

Internet Retailer Magazine November Innovation IssueThe direct-to-consumer brand has rapidly evolved over the past four years from a startup that produced its products in co-founder Zach Phillips’ apartment into the fastest-growing online pet retailer, which generated an Internet Retailer-estimated $47.5 million last year.

NomNomNow helped create the fresh pet food category when it positioned its products as healthy, portion-controlled alternatives to traditional pet food. And its rapid growth has helped spawn several other online-only competitors including The Farmer’s Dog Inc., Ollie Pet Inc. and JustFoodForDogs.com. Internet Retailer tracks 23 pet care retailers, with 11 merchants in Internet Retailer’s Top 1000 and 12 in the Next 1000. And within the Top 1000, the pet care category grew its online sales 50.1% last year, which significantly outpaced the Top 1000’s 17.5% overall growth rate.

Despite the competition, NomNomNow is the fastest-growing pet care merchant in the Top and Next 1000, with its online sales increasing 400% last year, according to Internet Retailer’s Top500Guide.com. And it continues to grow quickly; this year its sales are consistently growing around 15% month over month, Phillips says. He expects that growth to continue, thanks in part to its September 2018 opening of a 67,000 square-foot facility in Nashville where it cooks, packages and ships its pet food, as well as its investments in the science side of its business that analyzes what the retailer’s customers want in order to help it develop new products.

NomNomNow’s new Nashville fulfillment center

The Nashville facility handles 75% of the retailer’s orders and is nearlysix times larger than the facility NomNomNow operates in Pittsburg, California. Since opening, the Nashville facility has helped the retailer handle its growing sales volume, as well as enabled it to provide nationwide shipping in two days, which it previously only offered to West Coast shoppers, Phillips says.

The facility has also helped the retailer streamline its processes. For example, rather than requiring employees to manually portion ingredients—an “incredibly expensive and infinitely inefficient” process, according to Phillips—the new facility features a custom-designed machine that weighs and packages its food. The machine was costly, but necessary because of the pet food’s sticky rice-like consistency that makes measurement difficult. The retailer also recently installed the custom machine in its other facility.

The facility’s size was also a top priority. Since the company’s launch, the retailer has moved from an apartment to a rental space in a commercial kitchen to its own commercial kitchen to a 10,000 square-foot facility with about 45 hourly associates. However, it quickly outgrew nearly every facility. The new facility is vastly larger than the Pittsburg location. For example, it has 12 loading docks compared with just two at the East Bay facility.

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