Here in the United States, we love our pets! In fact, nearly 70 percent of all U.S. households own a pet. And those numbers are growing. The statistics show that pet parents are serious about their fur babies, spending more money each year on pets and the supplies and food they need. In an industry that brings in billions of dollars a year, it’s crucial for pet retailers to stay on top of industry trends. The pet industry is more profitable than ever, and if retailers can stay ahead of the competition, they can provide the services and goods pet parents are looking for. Below we’ve outlined some of the most popular trends for retailers selling puppies, birds, Persian or Sphynx kittens/cats, and other exotic animals.
1. Going Online
There is no replacement for a face-to-face meet-up with your potential puppy, kitten, or other pet. But, more and more, retailers are adding eCommerce to their brick and mortar stores. ECommerce allows pet retailers to reach much larger audiences than ever before. Now, a potential pet owner can find the perfect pet from across the country.
An eCommerce addition to their business model offers many benefits to a retailer’s customers. First and foremost, it’s convenient. In a consumer-driven world, the happier the customer, the better things are for the retailer. Consumers can peruse a variety of pets from the comfort of their couch.
Price checking is also easier than ever. Hopeful pet parents have the option to compare prices on the specific pets they’re considering, so they can choose a retailer that offers the specific pet they’re looking for at a price that they’re happy with.
2. Retailers Opt for Boutique Breeders
For years, most if not all pet retailers acquired their animals from mass breeders commonly known as mills. But these days, consumers care about where their pets are coming from. Humane breeding practices are an important factor when a shopper is trying to choose a pet retailer. With this in mind, pet retailers are distancing themselves from pet mills and acquiring their animals from reputable breeders.
When a retailer chooses responsible and ethical breeders, their prices will have to be slightly higher. But that isn’t a problem for pet owners. In 2019, the pet industry in the US, as a whole, was worth $95.7 billion dollars, with $19.2 billion of that comprising supplies, over-the-counter medicines, and live animals, including fish, birds, reptiles, and small animals. As with any other product, pet parents realize that the quality of their new pet—and the way they’re brought into the world and their treatment in the earliest weeks of their lives— is directly related to the amount of their investment.
3. Creating a Community
While eCommerce is an incredibly smart option for pet retailers, it’s best for businesses with physical locations to keep their brick-and-mortar operations strong. A growing trend among pet retailers is cultivating a community atmosphere in their stores. Personalizing the pet shopping experience is a huge draw for customers looking for a new pet.
When someone is looking for a pet, they’ll need supplies and food continuously. Retailers want to provide their customers with a valuable, welcoming, social shopping experience. When retailers offer this kind of experience, customers are not only more prone to buy a pet from them, but they have a higher likelihood of being repeat shoppers, purchasing food, supplies, medicines, etc when those needs arise.
4. Product Diversification
The more products a pet retailer can offer their clients, the better. We’re seeing more and more retailers expanding their inventory to cater to emerging needs in the pet market. For example, pet dental care is a rapidly growing sector of the pet industry. Even ten years ago, pet parents would have a difficult time finding one, let alone a variety, of dental care products at their pet retailer. But now, consumers can have their pick from a number of products for both dogs and cats.
Another growing market is related to aging pets. Pets are living longer than ever due largely to higher-quality foods and safer, indoor environments. Because of this, senior pet supplies are becoming more popular and more mainstream. It’s common to see pet owners pushing elderly dogs or cats in pet-specific strollers. Pet diapers, specialty vitamins, and age-appropriate foods—even for birds—are found in most pet retail stores. And when pet retailers offer these types of products alongside the animals they’re selling, they provide a more full-service experience for their customers, eliminating their need to shop elsewhere.
5. Virtual Meet and Greets
It’s not out of the ordinary for pet owners to fly or drive long distances to adopt the newest member of their family. But this is almost always after a virtual meet and greet between the pet and the hopeful pet parent.
Many pet retailers function as call centers where pet parents can get information about the animal they’re interested in bringing home. If a person is interested in taking further steps to buy a pet, they are usually given the option for a video conference where they can see the pet and how they interact with their environment, people, etc. By providing these virtual meet-ups, retailers foster a connection between the customer and the pet, increasing the likelihood of a sale taking place.
6. Third-Party Financing
Many pet retailers are beginning to offer pet financing options for their customers. A retailer can offer a larger variety of pets and reach a wider customer base with financing – or low monthly payment for a set period of time – because their customers won’t be inhibited by a lack of readily available cash.
Take a look at one of our recent case studies about Pet Financing
Providing financing allows pet shoppers to bring home their newest family member the day they meet. That means no more waiting and potentially losing a special pet they—or their children—had picked out. Financing options that allow for affordable payments are a new, customer-focused service that makes the pet shopping experience fantastic for the consumer while allowing retailers to sell their pets. And when retailers work with an experienced, reliable financing company, the process is even faster and easier.