When PetsPyjamas launched in 2012 it intended to interact with customers only through its website, selling pets accessories and later pet-friendly holidays for both owners and their dogs.

But CEO Gracia Amico, who joined the e-tailer two years later, said its eCommerce operation is not as black and white as online or offline.

"We're a pure-player, of course we wanted to be all technical and book online and not speak to anyone, but that wasn't the case," Amico said at the British Retail Consortium Symposium in London this week.

PetsPyjamas soon decided to launch a Pets Concierge phone service which is manned by experts seven days a week. By doing this the company learns extra details about its customers and their pets and is able to provide extra value.

"We found out really quickly that people wanted to talk to us and they wanted to explain what kind of pet they had, tell us their name and age," she said, explaining the e-tailer would not have converted as many sales if it just had an online business model.

PetsPyjamas launched its travel service a year ago which has now overtaken its accessories business and is more successful than Amico ever anticipated, but she realised quickly that it would have to stand out online next to the likes of Booking.com.

To differentiate itself, the retailer creates a personalised email two days before travel informing customers about the weather at their holiday destination, directions and exclusive information such as dog walks or a recommendation of a dessert at the hotel.

"We go that extra mile for our customer," she said.

PetsPyjamas also creates a box of dog accessories and treats personalised to the pet's name and breed which will be waiting for the dog on arrival at the hotel.

"People absolutely love this, because we realise the incredible emotional bond between animals and people – and we do something that's memorable," said Amico.

Amico – whose CV boasts senior eCommerce roles at Hobbs, Topshop and Burberry – said retailers need to listen to their customers in order to develop technology solutions rather than experimenting with the latest gadget to hit the market, such as smart mirrors in changing rooms.

"People try very hard to do things differently, but it seems to me a little contrived and I don't think it's necessary," she said, noting that the e-tailer is about to launch its responsive mobile website.

"Let’s go back to basics – what does a customer want?"

Amico said this holistic business model rather than a traditional online operation is leading to a return on investment.

"Our model is really paying back," she added. "Don't be afraid of working a little bit harder and doing things slightly different from the norm. If your customers want it you've got to do it, otherwise what is the point?"