As reported in Packaged Facts' U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2021-2022, all pet and veterinary industry trends—from why and how we get new pets to which pet services we use and where—intertwine with retail channel shopping trends. And e-commerce is reshaping all retail channel shopping.
The Internet is firmly and irrevocably in the lead at 30% of pet product sales, according to Packaged Facts, up from only 8% in 2015. These figures include pure play online operator sales as well as the online sales of traditionally brick-and-mortar based competitors such as Walmart, PetSmart, Petco, Costco, and Tractor Supply.
Even so, the pure play operators dominate online sales. By draw among those buying pet products online, the leaders are Amazon (59%) and Chewy (41%), followed by Walmart.com (33%) and then PetSmart.com and Petco.com. 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.
Pet food and treats are the product types most commonly purchased online, representing 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. 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. Packaged Facts survey data from February 2021show that while veterinarians remain the top influencers as sources of pet care information, cited as such by 58% of pet owners, the omnichannel combination of stores and the internet is not far behind, at 56%.
Moreover, Internet shopping for pet products has been the killer app in technology's increasing role in contemporary pet care and pet parenting. Packaged Facts survey data reported in U.S. Pet Market Outlook show that 23% of Millennials/Gen Z pet owners agree that technology is allowing them to save time on pet care, compared with 16% of Gen Xers and 9% of Boomers. Similarly, 21% of Millennial/Gen Z pet owners agree that technology is allowing them to spend more quality time with their pets, compared with 19% of Gen Xers and 13% of Boomers.
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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