While most consumers who purchase pet products or services are buying at least some of them online, the internet has not divided the industry into e-commerce vs. brick and mortar store sales, according to David Sprinkle, publisher and research director at Packaged Facts.

Sprinkle spoke Wednesday at Petfood Forum 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri.

The strongest players and customer relationships in pet food industry are now omnichannel, Sprinkle said, meaning consumers make purchases in a mix of online and retail transactions.

Video: Omnichanneling: Where consumers buy pet food

While many pet owners purchase pet food and pet products online, they also find going to a bricks-and-mortar store also is convenient, Sprinkle said. For omnichannel, it’s not just where you buy pet food. It’s the combination of purchasing and delivery — whichever is more convenient.

Of shoppers who buy pet products online, 64.5% also buy products at PetSmart or Petco, 36.6% also buy at supermarkets, 20.5% also buy from other pet stores, 15.5% also buy from veterinarians, and 15.2% also buy from discount stores.

The most important factors that consumers say affect their choice of pet food retailer include convenience and low or competitive prices. Much lower down in the ranking of priorities are characteristics found in brick-and-mortar stores like knowledgeable staff and a good relationship with store staff.

“Nothing is more convenient than the internet on your desktop, on your smartphone,” Sprinkle said. “And so that’s not really a long-term sustainable advantage in terms of brick and mortar.”

In 2018, pet specialty chain brick-and-mortar stores held 23% of the pet products dollar sales by retail channel, followed by discount store/supercenter brick-and-mortar stores at 21%, all internet at 17%, brick-and-mortar food stores at 12% and wholesale club brick-and-mortar stores at 9%.

In 2010, only 6.3% of households purchased pet products online. But, in 2018, that percentage had shot up to 20.4%. For comparison, in 2018, the channel with the largest percentage of pet product shopping rates was PetSmart/Petco, at 46.8%. But this was up only less than 5% from 2010.