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Challenges Facing Retailers Who Sell Pets and Pet Products in 2024

The year 2024 holds much promise for retailers who sell pets. However, it also presents potential challenges. The best way to succeed in this market is to understand the risks, equip yourself with the right tools, and move forward strategically.

This article explores the challenges facing retailers who sell pets in 2024. Read on to learn what you can expect and how to position your business to thrive starting now.  

1. Standing Out from the Competition

It’s a great time to be a pet store or retailer in the U.S. Roughly 70 percent of households own a pet, and those numbers are growing.

Americans love their pets. And for retailers who sell pets, the market is limitless. But the Competition is fierce.

Between nationwide chains and boutique breeders and shops, retailers who sell pets must find a way to differentiate themselves from other stores locally and online. It’s the only way they will survive in a highly competitive market.

When planning your engagement and marketing strategy, put yourself in the shoes of your target consumer. Ask the questions they’re asking that determine where they choose to shop:

  • What makes this retailer special?
  • Does this retailer meet my pet’s needs and desires (for example, a specific breed)?
  • Do they offer services that I need, like boarding, training, and grooming?
  • Can I afford to bring home a pet from this retailer?

What do you offer that makes you the choice for people who want to buy a pet? Answering this question begins with understanding what consumers want. First, know the pain points for hopeful pet parents, then shape your marketing, services, and products –– and pets –– around that data.

 2. Meeting Delivery Demands

Pet stores, specifically local retailers who sell pets, constantly compete with big box stores and other local businesses. More extensive franchises have the resources and infrastructure to deliver on customer delivery expectations. Unfortunately, many local pet retailers do not.

Shoppers are accustomed to on-demand pet products from stores like Amazon and Walmart and specialty pet stores like Chewy and Bark Box. And Amazon sets the standard for fast home delivery for almost any product a shopper could want.

Shoppers like familiarity and predictability. If they can make all their purchases with one retailer, they will. People looking for a new pet will also need beds, water and food bowls, pet food, and more. And they want it all delivered.

Retailers selling pets must understand consumer delivery demands. They expect prompt delivery. Pet retailers must find ways to meet these demands to compete in 2024.

3. Consumers Want to Shop After Hours

Shoppers do their research 24/7, not only during business hours. Hopeful pet parents are shopping when retail storefronts are closed. That means consumers can’t call retailers with questions or drive to the store when they want specifics on a particular animal or product.

The challenge for retailers is engaging with consumers when stores don’t operate all day and all night. Providing product and pet data shoppers want online is the best first step to cultivating engagement and positive customer perception.

Maintaining an up-to-date, user-friendly website allows hopeful pet parents to shop with you at their convenience. You can preemptively answer questions, address concerns, and provide helpful information for people at all stages of the pet-buying process, from those in the research phase to individuals who want to bring a dog home tomorrow.

Social media is another essential after-hours resource for retailers who sell pets. Facebook and Instagram are popular platforms for pet stores, breeders, and retailers connecting dogs and cats with forever homes. In addition, the visual aspect of social media allows your customers to see photos and videos of their potential pets, creating a connection before they come to your store.

No pet or product description will sell more effectively than a cute puppy or kitten picture. When people see the face of the pet they hope to adopt; they become emotionally invested. This is good for pets, customers, and your business. Everyone wins when a loving family becomes complete with the addition of a pet.

Optimizing your online presence with pet data, store information, educational content, and of course, pet images will help you attract more customers and create an affinity for your business that keeps them coming back for their pets –– and pet supplies.

4. Follow state legislature closely on the topic of pet retailers selling pets in your state

For the purpose of targeting “puppy mill” commercial breeders, four states have banned the sale of pets in retail stores. California, Illinois, New York, and Maryland have passed legislation prohibiting retailers from selling a pet from a retail location. A few other states have placed limitations on pe retailers, perhaps only on new retail locations or stricter requirements: in Washington and Maine.

For the retail location in these states, some have physically moved their store across the state border to a neighboring state, and some businesses have entirely shut down.

Be sure to follow your state legislature for upcoming law changes about selling pets in your area.

5. Promote your pets coming from breeders – not puppy mills

Your business obtains puppies or kittens from reputable breeders, where the parents are nurtured, and puppies and kittens are well cared for. Discuss how your pets are healthy, vaccinated, and cared for. Show potential buyers vaccination records, not just a health certificate. Help your customers understand the socialization your puppies and kittens undergo to ensure they are more adaptable to the new family’s home.

6. Inflation and Increased Financial Burdens

Consumers feel the weight of inflation on our economy. According to one study, 70 percent of pet parents have noticed the rising costs of dog and cat ownership. And 73 percent worry that prices will continue to rise.

But it’s not just pet-related expenses that are increasing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that food prices, on average, have gone up almost nine percent from March 2021 to March 2024. Housing costs have gone up five percent over the last year. And gasoline prices are up 18 percent from 2021 to March 2024. So the cost of living expenses is increasing at unprecedented rates.

For potential pet owners, this means they have fewer resources to spend on the perfect addition to their families. With daily expenditures consuming more of the budget, many find the path to pet ownership impossible.

But when you offer pet financing options, you remove this barrier to pet ownership. Consumer financing provides accessible, affordable payment options for people who want to bring home the perfect pet but need alternative methods to pay for it.

Installment loans through United Consumer Financial Services allow customers to pay for their pets over time with predictable, affordable monthly payments. Application is simple, and approval status is provided in just minutes. For approved customers, a happy pup or kitten can go home with your customer the same day they come to your store.

Pet financing empowers your customers to choose the pet they want without waiting. When inflation is affecting nearly every market, financing options allow your clientele to experience the joy, beauty, and fun of pet ownership –– without affecting planned monthly spending or consuming their savings.

Turning Challenges into Opportunities with UCFS

Retailers selling pets need every competitive advantage as we go into 2024. By being aware of your challenges, you can strategically approach them as opportunities.

Pet financing is necessary for retailers selling pets, pet products, and pet services. Affordable payment options allow you to set yourself apart and unite more pets with loving families. Contact the team at UCFS today to learn how we can help your pet business thrive in 2024 and beyond.