Best in Show's brand is built upon that one word – best!

Located in the heart of the historic
San Francisco Castro district, Best in Show is the premier pet boutique in the bay area and offers toys, treats, tags, clothing, and more for cats and dogs. Owner Richard Shui knows his customers are passionate about their pets and are willing to pay a little more for the best items. When it came to a redesign for his online store, he wanted to share that same passion.

I wanted to take advantage of all of the innovation in design and website features that had occurred over the last six years, so I started researching design firms.

—Richard Shui ,

Redesign Reinforces Branding

Shui launched an eCommerce site using Yahoo! Stores to supplement the brick and mortar boutique. Shui explained that while his Yahoo! Store was doing well, after six years he knew it was time for an update in design and an upgrade in functionality.

BIS logo bkgrnd.eps

The website of one of Shui's vendors caught his eye. He contacted the firm that designed the vendor's website, but a conflict of interest prevented the two from working together. Instead, the design firm recommended Solid Cactus.

Shui had done his homework prior to the redesign. Knowing his customers were knowledgeable and educated about their pets (in the 25-65 age group evenly split between men and women) and had come to expect the superior service and products of Best In Show, he wanted a design for that would appeal aesthetically and provide information in an easy-to-navigate format. His end goal was to have a design that was pleasing, functional, and would help the store rank higher in search engine results.

The design team at Solid Cactus was up to the task. First, designer Marc Manfre learned about Shui's goals for the site and the branding of the company from a client survey. Then, the two spoke one-on-one to discuss the project and concept further. Manfre and Shui looked at other Solid Cactus designed stores and noted some of the features Shui would like included in his new design. They also discussed which items on the existing site had been working well and should be migrated to the new site. For example, they decided the current Best in Show logo would serve as the basis for the look and feel of the new store.

Manfre enjoyed collaborating with Shui on the Best in Show site redesign.

"Richard, being the client, is a vital part of the design process. He had no doubts about the message and mood he wanted the redesign to express, but he also gave me the liberty to design and present it in my own, original way," explained Manfre. "His ideas were inspiring to me and he let me have a voice in the process, which in turn helped me create a memorable site that Richard absolutely loved. I'm positive that any visitors to his new site will be motivated to buy his products and services."

As an example of the creativity of Solid Cactus designers, Manfre suggested using the store's mascot Lucky (a lovable cartoon beagle) as the spokesperson and included his image throughout.

A Design that Breeds Results:


Manfre suggested using the store's mascot Lucky (a lovable cartoon beagle) as the spokesperson and included his image throughout.


Also, since some of the features Shui wanted to add to his new store were social media links and a blog, Manfre injected more of that fun branding by creating clever graphics that link to the blog and social media sites. The new blog link asks everyone to "Dish out Details". You can "Sniff us Out" on Facebook or "Follow our Trail" on Twitter. Lucky holds a newspaper in his mouth on the "Join the Best in Show Newsletter" sign-up box. Additionally, "Lucky's Favorites" and "Lucky's New Arrivals" are two more ways the mascot has been incorporated into the site as both a design element and brand "messenger".


The About Us page features shots of the interior of the brick and mortar store.

To highlight Best in Show's physical location, Manfre incorporated a graphic of the neighborhood and the Golden Gate Bridge in the header. The subtle gray wallpaper background matches the cityscape in the header and features cartoon-type drawings of pet items such as paw prints and bones, which match the overall feel of the site. A fire hydrant in the footer adds a bit of whimsy.

When Manfre presented the preliminary design, it was very close to Shui's expectations. With only one minor revision, it was ready to go live.

"It came out perfect!" said Shui.


The Checkout page is cute, incorporating a bouncing toy ball to show the customer's progress.

Customers and friends have already taken notice of the new look and features. Shui plans to monitor the impact on inquiries and sales, but he also knows there is much more to be done. Now that the redesign is live, Shui is focusing on search engine optimization (SEO).

"Right now I'm redoing all of the merchandise descriptions and keywords -- and that could take a month. But, I know that's also part of increasing the site's visibility on the search engines," he said, adding that down the road he plans on adding a customized blog to match his new store and perhaps a rotating banner on his homepage.

Premier pet supplies for passionate pet owners: The Best In Show brand emanates from every page of the website presented with a welcoming smile.

About Best in Show

Best in Show's motto is "Only the Best for Your Pets." Both the brick and mortar store in San Francisco and online boutique, offer high quality items for dogs, cats, and pet owners. The San Francisco location offers in store events for pets and their owners.

To learn more, visit