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Adventures in Pet Food

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry, shares her insights and opinions on all things pet food, addressing market trends as well as news and developments in pet nutrition, food safety and other hot topics for the industry.

Online pet retailers and related sites succeeding with innovation, social media

July 3, 2012

Despite Facebook's less than stellar initial public offering, there's no doubt it remains a force to be reckoned with. With more than 800 million users worldwide -- a number that is expected to reach 1 billion by next month (August 2012) -- along with nearly 47% revenue growth from 2010 to 2011 and many other impressive statistics, this leading social medium has become a household word and daily habit for many consumers. Which means it's also become an invaluable marketing platform for many consumer goods companies, including those that make, market or distribute petfood.

 

For example, PetFlow.com, an online retailer of petfood and other pet supplies, was recently proclaimed one of the most talked about retail and consumer merchandise companies on Facebook, second only to Walmart. That's based on data from PageData, a research firm that tracks Facebook page metrics. Founded just two years ago by Alex Zhardanovsky and Joe Speiser, PetFlow.com currently reaches more than 8.4 million people through Facebook, according to PageData, and more than 600,000 users actively engage with the company on a weekly basis.

 

PetFlow.com itself claims to ship more than 1 million pounds of petfood a month and have more than 30,000 customers. I don't know how many of those customers were acquired from its Facebook page and outreach, but it's probably safe to assume that for the fairly low cost of promoting itself and its services via social media, the company is reaping significant return on that investment. (PetFlow.com also has a Twitter page with more than 5,600 followers.)

 

Another progressive use of online media comes from the non-profit side of the companion animal world. AdoptAShelter.com offers consumers, pet-related companies and retailers in a variety of categories a way to seamlessly contribute to animal shelters and other charities. Users of the site can select a specific shelter or organization, then in just a few clicks, shop online as they might normally do; but by connecting to an online retailer through AdoptAShelter.com, proceeds of any purchase will be donated to that shelter. Using the service is completely free, and consumers can make their online purchases just as they normally would. Ingenious!

 

 

Chris Ruben, founder and CEO of AdoptAShelter.com, says the service currently has more than 700 animal charities from 48 US states registered and more than 475 participating merchants, including popular online destinations such as Amazon.com, eBay, Walmart.com, Expedia.com, plus pet-related ones likes Petco.com and PetSmart.com. In fact, if you look at the list of merchants involved by category, you'll find quite a few pet-related ones, including some petfood or treat manufacturers like Best Bully Sticks, Sojourner Farms and Wysong.

 

 

The amount donated varies by online retailer; for example, PetSmart.com donates 4% of the purchase, while Expedia.com donates a flat US$1.50. Considering that I often use that site to book my travel, from now on I will do so through AdoptAShelter.com to benefit one of the shelters in my area.

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