Tuffy’s benefiting from leaving Chewy after PetSmart buy

Tuffy’s Pet Foods stopped offering their products on Chewy after PetSmart announced plans to buy the online pet food retailer.

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photo by kozorog | BigStockPhoto
photo by kozorog | BigStockPhoto

In April, Tuffy’s Pet Foods stopped offering their products on Chewy after PetSmart announced plans to buy the online pet food retailer. Tuffy’s move worked out well for the company, Dan Schmitz, national sales manager for KLN Brands told Petfood Industry. KLN owns Tuffy’s Pet Foods.

“We have received calls, emails and social media interaction that have been very positive,” Schmitz said. “Both retailers and pet parents have expressed that this was a very positive move for our company!”

Tuffy’s pulled their products from Chewy because company leadership did not feel large-scale, mass-market retailers fell within the channels the company wanted to support with their products and marketing.

Tuffy’s plan after leaving online pet food retailer

Instead, Tuffy’s executives stated that the company would continue with their current marketing plan focused on the independent specialty retailers and family owned businesses.

“This was a very big decision for our ownership and senior management team and there was a lot of discussion around this,” said Schmitz.

Sticking with solely small, independent pet food retailers has helped Tuffy’s strengthen relationships with their existing vendors and may help forge new relationships, he said.

“We have had a great response from both our current retailers and also several other retailers that we have pursued over the years,” Schmitz said. “This is a great opportunity for us.”

PetSmart will buy online pet food retailer Chewy

PetSmart entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Chewy. Upon closing, Chewy will operate largely as an independent subsidiary of PetSmart, focusing on its current business strategy, while PetSmart will continue to execute its strategic initiatives across the combined company. Chewy's online pet food retailer sales have seen significant growth since the company was founded by Ryan Cohen and Michael Day in 2011. Likewise, online pet food sales in general have been increasing globally.

Now that their products aren't on Chewy, Tuffy's is seeking another way to sell their pet food online.

"We are exploring all of our options for an online presence," said Schmitz. "We know this is a very important part of our business and an online presence is something we will have."

Online pet food sales increasing globally

In the Euromonitor report “Healthy Pets, Happy Owners: Health and Wellness Product Development in Pet Care,” the authors noted the increasing growth of online pet food sales volume through distributors like Chewy and Amazon.com. The trend towards internet-based pet food sales is especially strong in East Asia, according to the report.

“In China and South Korea, internet retailing now accounts for close to one third of dog and cat food sales,” said Paula Flores, head of pet care at Euromonitor International, in an email. “In Western Europe, it accounts for 8 percent but the pace has been picking up with such strong markets as the UK where retailing is quite developed and consumers are very used to online shopping. And in the US, competition has just been heating up with players really making inroads and leveraging omnichannel strategies. However, the latest development has been that Chewy has just been announced to be acquired by PetSmart (the largest retailer).”

Online pet food spending growing quickly in US

 In 2016, 11 percent of US pet product purchasers bought pet products online, up from 6 percent in 2010, according to Simmons Market Research consumer survey data, reported David Sprinkle of Packaged Facts in Petfood Industry.

In terms of cross-channel competition, Packaged Facts survey data from February–March 2017 show that the online purchasing option is most compelling to pet owners who buy pet products at pet superstores or at veterinarians: two-thirds of the customers for these channels are slipping pet products into website shopping carts. In terms of overall market share, Packaged Facts estimates that the internet currently accounts for approximately 8 percent of the US$46 billion US retail market for pet products in 2016, or around US$3.7 billion — with the caveat that internet sales are notoriously difficult to quantify.

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