A new study has found that more pet owners are shopping for products online and traditional retailers will have to do more than boost their online presence in order to compete.
Chain Store Age reports a study from research firm Packaged Facts found that 40 percent of pet owners are buying pet products online, up from 37 percent who shopped online the previous year. Not only are higher numbers of consumers buying pet goods online, but they are spending more of their pet product dollars online as well.
“Ecommerce has accelerated its shift from being a Wild West boomtown toward becoming the market's retail California," said David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts.
An increase in merger and acquisition activity last year is responsible for much of the change, including Mars' purchase of VCA Inc. and other veterinary practice consolidation; PetSmart’s acquisition of Chewy.com; and Walmart's acquisition of jet.com. According to the report, each deal has contributed to the structural remix of the pet market.
“Brick-and-mortar retailers and manufacturers are scrambling to regroup to avoid losing ground. Retailers are adapting to compete with the Internet's—specifically Amazon's—ballooning strength in pet product sales,” Sprinkle said. “Brand manufacturers are adapting because their entrenched lock on shelf space is increasingly irrelevant for shelf-stable online purchasable products such as dry and canned pet food or cat litter.”
Pet superstores, such as PetSmart and Petco, can capitalize on their established relationships with customers who know what to expect from their stores and services, while those offering non-medical pet services, such as grooming, boarding and training can also stand out from their online competitors.
In addition, supermarkets are also working hard to hold on to their share of the pet market by increasing the size and scope of their pet care departments, sponsoring pet contests, running promotions and even filling pet prescriptions at stores with pharmacies.