E-commerce: It’s where you want to be

As the pet food industry begins to address the challenges of COVID-19, pet owners look to e-commerce to get their pet food shopping done.

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The impact of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders has more pet owners turning to e-commerce. (Andy Dean Photography | Shutterstock.com)
The impact of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders has more pet owners turning to e-commerce. (Andy Dean Photography | Shutterstock.com)

As of press time, there have been more than 1.38 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world. At least 316 million people in the U.S. alone have been urged to stay home unless something absolutely essential compels them to go out, and all over the globe a collective one-third of the human population has been placed on some sort of “lockdown” in an attempt to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Entire companies are working from home for the first time. Schooling has gone digital from preschool on up. There are still families to feed and pets to take care of. Life, somehow, must continue, even as we’re told not to go anywhere to make that happen.

We live in strange times. But we also live in an era of unprecedented accessibility, thanks to the internet, and as pet owners take full advantage of that (p. xx) the pet food industry is already seeing some of the results.

Petfood Industry is conducting an ongoing survey to gather data on how COVID-19 is impacting the global pet food industry, and the results so far paint a definite picture:

  • 51.9% of survey respondents have seen a double-digit percentage increase in sales since the pandemic began. Another 25.9% have seen single-digit growth.
  • 40.7% of respondents expect their sales to continue increasing for the rest of 2019.

Obviously people counted their pets among those they initially needed to provide for, and industry sales spiked accordingly as pet owners stocked up. And history shows us that the pet food industry is resistant to economic recessions (though not immune, as reduced projections of growth for the rest of this year show). Where did the initial spike come from, and where will continued growth be found? According to our survey, e-commerce:

  • 63% of survey respondents said their sales increases are coming from online retail channels.
  • 51.4% said their company is now looking closely at digital investments, including e-commerce sales, fulfillment through online retailers, direct-to-consumer online sales or subscriptions and home delivery services.

What’s more, just behind the (rightfully so) top concern expressed of keeping employees safe and healthy, 20% of survey respondents said their number one COVID-19-related challenge is “product delivery or availability issues at retail.” It’s unlikely that concern will go away any time soon, and e-commerce has shown itself to be a possible solution.

View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

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