Pixabay, e-commerce

When it comes to pet product e-commerce, Chewy and Amazon are in the lead, according to market research firm Packaged Facts, which is based in Rockville, Md. These “pure play operators” dominate online sales when compared to the online sales of traditionally brick-and-mortar based competitors such as Petco, PetSmart, Tractor Supply and Costco, officials said in its report, U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2021-2022.

“By draw among those buying pet products online, the leaders are Amazon (59 percent) and Chewy (41 percent), followed by Walmart.com (33 percent), and then PetSmart.com and Petco.com,” officials said. “Measuring by dollar sales share rather than shopper draw, the gap between online and omnichannel players grows larger, with Amazon alone claiming nearly half of online pet product sales.”

Taken all together, the internet is “firmly and irrevocably” in the lead at 30 percent of pet product sales, up from only 8 percent in 2015, according to the report.

Pet food and treats are the product types most commonly purchased online, according to the report.

“[This] represents a changing of the guard from a simpler era when pet medications and supplements, being compact and lightweight, were most feasible for direct-to-consumer shipping,” officials said. “E-commerce success with pet food has depended not on eliminating the shipping and handling expenses inevitably involved with heavy and bulky items, but on changing consumers’ point of view. Amazon wields the larger context of Amazon Prime and Amazon credit card and reward programs. Chewy has created a brand story and value proposition based on first-class customer service and the convenience of autoship.”

The dollar sales being racked up by pet product e-commerce translate not only into profits, but into wide-ranging influence over consumer approaches to pet care and pet spending, officials added. While veterinarians remain the top influencers as sources of pet care information, cited as such by 58 percent of pet owners, the omnichannel combination of stores and the internet is not far behind, at 56 percent, according to Packaged Facts survey data from February 2021.

“Moreover, internet shopping for pet products has been the killer app in technology’s increasing role in contemporary pet care and pet parenting,” officials said.

Packaged Facts survey data reported in U.S. Pet Market Outlook show that 23 percent of millennials/gen Z pet owners agree that technology is allowing them to save time on pet care, compared with 16 percent of gen Xers and 9 percent of boomers. Similarly, 21 percent of millennial/gen Z pet owners agree that technology is allowing them to spend more quality time with their pets, compared with 19 percent of gen Xers and 13 percent of boomers, the data further revealed.

According to Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle, these numbers, though relatively modest to date, “point to an ongoing technological revolution that will continue to recast how to win and who will do so in the pet industry.”

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