Forecast to reach USD 47 billion by 2030 – nearly double what it was valued at in 2022 – the global petcare ecommerce market is booming.¹
This significant growth is being driven by a variety of factors, including:
- increased demand for pet products, following a rise in pet ownership as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (66% of US households owned a pet in 2023² and pet ownership peaked at 62% in the UK in 2022³);
- a shift in consumers’ buying behavior, with more shoppers turning to the convenience of online channels; and
- an increase in the proportion of younger pet owners, with digitally-savvy millennials and Gen Z-ers being more likely to buy direct from brands’ websites.²
With this growth has come increased competition amongst DTC petcare brands. As they fight to become leaders of the pack in their corner of the market, the most successful retailers are creating unique and memorable digital experiences that provide value and convenience for pet owners.
Here are seven things you can implement on your website to win clicks, drive sales and build customer loyalty:
When executed correctly, ecommerce personalization can deliver significant benefits – for both retailers and consumers. These include increased customer satisfaction, higher customer engagement, better retention metrics, and, ultimately, increased revenue.
Successful personalization strategies are based on data. For petcare ecommerce retailers, this can include information about a pet, such as their name, birthday or dietary preferences, or details about an owner’s on-site browsing activity and purchase history.
Using this data to build detailed customer profiles, you can deliver a tailored experience on your ecommerce store that leaves shoppers feeling connected to and valued by your brand.
A personalized experience on your petcare ecommerce site might include:
- using a pet’s name on your homepage when welcoming a returning customer;
- offering individualized product recommendations based on previous purchases – helping an owner discover new products that are relevant to their pet’s needs;
- providing tailored pet food plans; or
- shipping surprise treats for a pet’s birthday.
Example: Innovative pet gear retailer Fable has created an on-site quiz which collects zero-party data from users about their dogs. This information – including pet name, size, energy level and favorite activity – is leveraged to recommend the most suitable products from Fable’s collection.
2. Streamlined user journeys
Helping shoppers find what they need on your ecommerce store quickly and easily can help increase conversion rates and improve customer satisfaction. This is particularly important if you’re a petcare retailer with a large product catalog.
Needs-based navigation and filtering are effective at connecting high-intent shoppers with relevant products, whilst product recommendation quizzes can also direct consumers to items that will suit them and their pet best.
Example: Canadian cat supplies retailer Catit, part of the Hagen Group, has an extensive catalog of products spanning food, feeders, litter, toys, carriers and more. The brand’s Shopify Plus website uses colorful needs-based navigation blocks on its homepage to differentiate its collections and direct shoppers to the most relevant page for their needs.
3. Detail-rich product pages
The emergence of the ‘fur baby phenomenon’ – the increased humanization of pets – means that owners are increasingly conscious about the quality of products they’re purchasing for their pets, as well as the reputation of the brands they buy from.
Pet owners will therefore be looking for detailed information about your brand and products, especially if it’s their first time visiting your ecommerce store. They want reassurance that your product is going to improve the life of their beloved pet.
You can empower shoppers to make an informed purchasing decision by including the following on your website’s product pages:
- Clear product descriptions that emphasize the benefits for a pet and/or their owner.
- Feeding and dosage guides if applicable.
- Awards or third-party endorsements (such as veterinarian recommendations).
- Authentic product reviews.
- An FAQ section that anticipates pre-purchase concerns.
For petcare retailers offering a subscription, product pages should also provide information about how this works and what the benefits are. Icons and illustrations are great for showcasing subscription perks with maximum impact.
Any changes you implement on your website, including on your product pages, should be tested beforehand as part of a conversion rate optimization program.
Example: Leading pet supplement brand YuMOVE leverages a dynamic tablet recommendation tool on its product pages, which provides users with recommendations for how many tablets are appropriate based on their pet’s weight. This interactive tool was A/B tested before being implemented on YuMOVE’s website and performed better than the static recommendation tool that was previously featured.
4. Authentic reviews & user-generated content
Unable to physically inspect and interact with products, digital shoppers look to their peers to validate their purchasing decisions. If they see positive reviews written about the benefits of products, or photos of happy pets uploaded by other customers, they’ll feel more confident about making a purchase themselves.
Therefore, you should encourage your existing customers to complete post-purchase reviews and send in photos and videos of their furry friends with your products. You could incentivize them with a discount code, free shipping, or loyalty points if you offer an official rewards program.
It’s best practice to showcase reviews, user-generated content (UGC) and other forms of social proof across your website, including at key touch points like your homepage and product pages.
Example: Californian brand Petco showcases customers’ photos of their pets enjoying Petco products in an Instagram carousel on its homepage. These photos of happy pets will likely trigger a positive emotional response amongst website visitors and influence their purchase decisions.
5. Premium customer support
As well as high-quality products, pet owners are looking for premium customer service from the brands they shop with online. Top-tier customer support includes things like:
- easily-accessible support options on your ecommerce site;
- a comprehensive FAQ page where questions are categorized by topic;
- a chatbot to provide 24/7 support;
- timely responses to customer queries – whatever channel they’re submitted on;
- simple ways for customers to edit their personal details and subscriptions themselves – with clear routes to escalate to your support team if necessary; and
- personal service, referring to the customer and their pet by name.
This will reassure pet owners that you have their pet’s needs at heart, whilst demonstrating that you value their custom.
Example: Holistic pet wellbeing brand Honest Paws uses a sticky help widget to support its website visitors. Users can search for answers, access FAQs and chat to the support team directly if they need further assistance.
6. Flexible product subscriptions
If the products you sell are typically purchased on a routine basis – like pet food, treats and supplements – they could lend themselves to a ‘subscribe and save’ service. This would allow pet owners to schedule repeat deliveries of these essential items direct to their doorsteps. Customers can choose the frequency and quantity of deliveries, all whilst saving money – making it an appealing option for time-poor, discount-hungry consumers.
A subscription model also offers benefits for retailers, including increased customer lifetime value, better return on customer acquisition costs, and more accurate financial forecasting.
For DTC retailers offering a subscription, best practice involves:
- clearly illustrating the benefits for subscribers throughout the customer journey (including on your homepage and product pages);
- creating a subscription explainer page to walk through how the service works;
- allowing subscribers to easily edit, skip, pause or cancel their subscription via a user-friendly customer portal; and
- reinforcing value through social proof.
Example: US pet supplies retailer Chewy promotes its ‘Autoship & Save’ offer with a hero banner above the fold on its homepage, as well as via a dedicated page explaining the features and benefits.
7. Educational and engaging content
As well as being a convenient and accessible destination for purchasing pet products, the best petcare ecommerce sites provide value to owners through educational resources, expert advice and other engaging content. Packing your blog with informative and inspirational content is a must-have strategy for DTC petcare brands.
This will look different for every brand, but themes and topics to consider include:
- pet health and nutrition guides;
- dog training how-tos;
- interviews with veterinary specialists;
- pet travel advice;
- grooming tips; and
- holiday gift guides for pets and their owners.
Ultimately, your goal is to create compelling blog content that showcases your brand’s unique expertise whilst targeting common keywords and search queries. A content marketing strategy like this has numerous benefits. For example, it will help to drive more organic traffic to your website, demonstrate your authority in the industry and help build long-lasting customer relationships.
Example: Cat wellness company PrettyLitter has curated a hub of educational content on its ecommerce store, helping readers to better understand the needs of their feline friends. The ‘Paw & Tail’ blog is regularly updated with helpful articles that answer common questions amongst cat owners – showcasing the brand as an authoritative name in the industry, whilst building trust with consumers.
Want to launch or improve your petcare ecommerce website?
This article is based on information originally provided in Swanky’s guide to creating a ‘best in show’ ecommerce store on Shopify Plus.
Swanky is an award-winning international ecommerce agency specializing in petcare website design, development and optimization on Shopify Plus.
Our services include store migrations, bespoke website development, branding and UX design consultancy, internationalization advice, digital marketing strategy, data-led ecommerce testing, and much more.
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