As people’s lifestyles continue to adapt, pet owners may not be discovering new pet foods and treats in the same locations. Whereas, they may have once gotten a recommendation from another pet owner in a pet specialty store before the pandemic, now online communities, social media and other venues grown in influence. Pet owners increasingly buy foods and treats via e-commerce. Even sales in traditional retail locations are often supported by online research.
“To remain competitive, brands need to adapt to consumers’ emerging needs with respect to how and where they intend to discover, shop and engage with the products and services they buy,” said Sean Daley, head of advisory services for Pivotree, an e-commerce support provider. “The best design is grounded in delivering a smooth, omnichannel experience tailored specifically to a customer’s needs.”
For example, if a pet owner sees a food or treat they’d like to try for their own pet, brands with a strong digital presence will be easy to find using a smart phone or other device. That brands will ideally already know that pet owner, their animals and the preferences of both. Once the find the brand, the pet owner should be able to choose from a range of purchase options, from local retailers to home delivery.
“The goal for brands is to get me what I need with the fewest clicks, and aim to provide me with as many convenience options as possible,” he said. “Those who have been able to get to that level of granularity are the ones who have been able to succeed during COVID-19, and who will continue to succeed as we emerge from the pandemic. They have managed to capture a local, corner store feel with a frictionless e-commerce experience right out of the gate, and that’s the most effective way to guide online store design.”
Omnichannel pet food presence
Maintaining a presence online continues to grow in importance for pet food brands, even as pandemic-related movement restrictions ease in the United States and other nations. That presence should go beyond a digital storefront or e-commerce retailer listing to engage with pet owners and build trust, he said.
“People are passionate about their pets, and they tend to be part of pet communities,” he said. “Pet food companies should aim to take advantage of that. Don’t just aim to serve the customer, get to know them, and especially their pet, and then build a helpful and engaging experience for them based on that. If I have an aging cocker spaniel, for example, the advice I need around diet and medical care is very different than if I had a kitten.”
Don’t approach e-commerce as a purely revenue-driven exercise, he said.
“Step back and look at your experience and make sure it’s something that will appeal to your customers,” he said. “The best way to achieve this is to reduce friction in your online experience by making it personal, by emphasizing shared knowledge and experience. Once you build trust the revenue and loyalty will follow.