While the pet food industry saw strong growth during the ongoing pandemic, some of that expansion may have been stymied by logistical problems. Pet food brands optimizing their use of e-commerce tended to weather logistical challenges better, and in a digital marketplace, data provides crucial insights to facilitate further growth and resilience.
At the apex of the pandemic and related movement restrictions in the U.S., online pet food sales spiked, but warehouse prioritization and logistical challenges may have prevented many pet food companies from taking full advantage of the demand, analysts with investment bank Cascadia Capital wrote in a recent report. However, direct-to-consumer pet food businesses thrived in lockdown.
E-commerce and ongoing pet food transportation challenges
Industry experts have warned that supply and transportation issues stemming from the pandemic are likely to continue in 2021 and early 2022. Online pet food sales enabled those D2C pet food companies to leapfrog at least some transportation difficulties. All types of pet food companies, from the established giants to brands launched during the pandemic, now need to form e-commerce strategies. Information and data may drive growth in this digital dimension of pet food. Brands can apply that data in their strategies.
“Start by understanding your e-commerce growth trajectory, relative to competitors and overall category,” Mike Black, CMO of Profitero said. “For example, Amazon pet food sales have grown 67% over the past two years and pet supplies by 79%. However, not every brand captured an equal share of that growth. Brands measuring success based on their own sales growth, without looking at comparative metrics like online market share, may be missing the fact that category competitors are growing faster.”
“If the category is outperforming you, there’s an opportunity to be doing more,” he said.
“Next, use data to get a pulse on which levers to pull to help you grow faster. The barrier to entry may be lower online than getting onto a physical retail shelf, but there are more brands to compete with in digital and that number is only growing. Data in the form of digital shelf analytics can inform good content benchmarks, search strategies, reviews and pricing against new and old competitors. Ultimately, that insight will shed a light on what online elements can improve sales performance most.”
One pet product brand used Profitero’s data to learn that their product pages on Amazon had fewer videos and images than most competitors.
“Adjusting their product listings to include more images and videos was a simple fix,” Black said.
Adding more multimedia to their Amazon listing correlated with that pet brand growing 66% faster than the category.
Other pet food brands can examine their online presence to boost revenues and market share.
“Get your hands on any data that gives you a better picture of your consumer,” Black said. “Understand the kind of experience consumers are having with your brand online, everywhere they shop. Are they able to find you on retailer sites? Are you buried at the bottom of search results, or at the top? Are your product descriptions and images correct? What kind of reviews are they seeing? Are you priced competitively? Being able to pinpoint opportunities to improve how your brand shows up online with data is the first step to growing sales.”
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