Shopify Pet Supplies Stores: Learn What To Do And What To Avoid
Three things in this world are undeniable: the vastness of the universe, the boundlessness of human ignorance, and our never-ending love for our pets.
A bit dramatic, I know, but it’s true. You need only take a look at the amount of pet supply stores in our town centres or on online platforms like Shopify to know it’s true. We love our companions whether they be four-legged and furry, two-legged and feathery, or no-legged and scaly.
Such is our love for our pets that I am absolutely sure that if an alien civilization ever had to report back on the nature of Earth’s inhabitants they might include a caveat in the report stating that the ruling class on earth is a collection of different types of animals who’ve managed to enslave humanity into pouring their money and affection onto them. And believe me, the amount of money that goes into this industry is staggering. So staggering in fact that it goes a long way to explain why the pet supply niche is one of the fastest-growing niches in eCommerce.
That, in part, is why I decided to write this review, to help people starting their journey in this exciting, but competitive, industry niche. I’ll be looking at five of the most exciting pet supplies stores on Shopify and show you what you should be doing and what you should be avoiding. But first, I’m going to have a look at why more and more people are trying to get into the pet supplies eCommerce niche.
Check out other case studies in our Store Reviews series HERE
Why Pet Supplies – A Quick Look At The Numbers
The pet supply industry is growing and that is good news.
The reason for this optimistic outlook is that for a very long time people predicted that the pet industry would at some point stagnate and then start to shrink. The reason for this belief is because the main purchasing power in the pet supplies industry is the Baby Boomer generation. As soon as this generation becomes too old to exercise their buying power sectors like the pet supplies industry will start to suffer.
This belief was further reinforced by the carbon footprint of owning pets and the environmentally-conscious nature of the generations beyond the Baby Boomers. Pets and the industry that accompanies their existence was something of the past. There was nothing anyone could do about it. The pet supply industry was like the video rental industry, a dead man walking just waiting for the last fatal blow…
Enter Millennials and Generation Z, the saviors no one saw coming!
More and more millennials are putting off having children and instead adopting a pet, according to Forbes. The effect of millennials on the pet and pet supply industry is rejuvenating, to say the least! And no one could predict this, because no one could imagine that a generation with relatively low purchasing power would devote such a large chunk of that purchasing power to their pets. Take a quick scroll through #dogsofintagram and you’ll see this new level of devotion first hand. We love our pets, regardless of their types, shapes, or sizes or, indeed what generation you are from. This is a fact that will never change, not even in the face of a deadly pandemic…
Whether you are someone who diligently wears (or hopefully at the time of reading, wore) a mask or someone who distrust science and those smartypants with their lab coats, there’s one thing we just can’t deny: Covid19 has/had a massive impact on our purchasing habits. The eCommerce sector of Pet supplies is no different. With more people and their pets staying home during the lockdown period customers decided to treat themselves and their animal companions. In the USA the lockdown saw online sales of cat food increase by a whopping 401%, while cat supplies and small animal supplies increased 204% and 175% respectively.
In Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, online dog supplies sales increased a jaw-dropping 995% and “Pet Supplies” in general saw an increase of 679%. These numbers are truly staggering, but what makes them really insightful is the fact that they occurred during a global crisis. Many experts predicted that consumers would spend frugally, buying much-needed essentials and little else. Instead what actually happened was the creation of a new category of “New Essentials” which included electronics, cookbooks, bread machines, and pet supplies. The most encouraging trend from this entire ordeal is that when it came to our pets during those uncertain times we actually ended up spending more on them than before the pandemic. The message is clear, no matter how bad things get, there will almost always be enough to treat Fido and Tigger.
Lastly, the number of pet owners in developing countries is on the increase throughout developing and early-developed countries. In these countries, more and more people are becoming first-time pet owners as the living standards increase. This trend mainly hinges on pets being seen as a sign of affluence in these countries and this industry is likely to continue to grow for as long as those countries’ economies experience growth.
But to tap into that growth is something altogether different. To effectively harness said growth you’ll have to do a couple of things right when starting your online Shopify pet supplies stores.
Things To Keep In Mind For Your Shopify Pet Supplies Stores
When people purchase products online for their pets they do so by being extremely emotional about their purchase. Unlike other niches where passion is the main driving force, like buying a specialised cooler or tent for an upcoming camping trip, when it comes to pet supplies love and emotion are the two main driving forces.
If a potential customer does not believe that your product is the quality that their pet deserves you’ve lost them even before they’ve even landed on your home page. This belief in quality is often not rooted in the actual product, but rather in the way the product is presented. As such there are three main aspects you should concentrate on when creating your Shopify pet store. They are credibility and trust, a professional and efficient page design, and concentrating on a niche within a niche.
01. Credibility and Trust
Because people are buying something for a loved family member, albeit a furry, feathery, or scaly one, your shop needs to be as credible as possible. The faintest whiff of distrust will send people to the exits. The best way to establish trust is by what you say. Your copy and content should be faultless. Nothing tells people that this site is not to be trusted as easily as bad grammar or incohesive content. It might seem like overkill but get a professional content or copywriter to write the words that will great your customers. Trust us on this one…
02. Professional and Efficient Design
After the first impression of the actual text on your website, the way it is laid out and how it functions comes in to lend it that feeling of being “legit” or not. A bulky website creaking under the weight of all types of content haphazardly thrown onto a landing page will drive away as many customers as a website filled with spelling mistakes. If you’re not a design wizard or don’t know the first thing about how to optimise your web design to maximise the number of converted customers, don’t worry… With products like PageFly, those uncertain days are a thing of the past.
03. A Niche Within a Niche
Lastly, try to find a niche within the niche of the pet supplies industry. You can do this relatively easily by looking at social media and the purchasing habits of your potential customers. Pigs, for instance, are becoming more and more common as a pet. Why not try and concentrate on that niche instead of catering to cats and dogs. Or if you go for cats and dogs try and niche it down to concentrate on elderly dogs and cats. But as it is with all things, niching down too far is something you should avoid. No one wants to know about your store for albino chinchillas suffering from diabetes…
So with that in mind, let’s have a look at a couple of Shopify Pet Supplies stores, and what they do right and, sometimes, what they do wrong…
01. Healthy Spot – A Pet Store Selling Trust
A great example of using copy to connect with users.
First up in our Shopify pet supplies stores list, we have Healthy Spot, an online shop born out of the necessity of knowing what goes into the food that your pet eats.
In 2007 a wave of pet food recalls rocked the US and caused major confusion when it came to finding out which pet food brands were safe and which were affected. This is when Andrew Kim and Mark Boonnark started Healthy Spot, to help make sense of the confusion. Today their impressive array of brick and mortar stores are backed up by a great online store.
As soon as you arrive on the landing page you get the sense that this is a pet food store that has been created by pet lovers for pet lovers. This is mainly achieved through good copy from the get-go. While the copy might be a little bit generic, it serves it’s function brilliantly by establishing a personal tone with its visitors. This familiar tone creates a sense of trust, the online equivalent of walking into your local veterinary store. In short, it assures the visitor that the products listed on this site are products that the creators of the store would be willing to feed their own pets.
Healthy Spot features a brilliant online community with events in the real world!
This is important because Healthy Spot isn’t selling anything new. They don’t have their own brand or product, they feature the brands and products of others. This means what they are actually selling is a sense of trust. “You can trust this product because you can trust us.” This sense of trust is further amplified through great store design, with product reviews and featuring an easily navigable shop page, complete with autocomplete suggestions and images for those suggestions. They also feature an extensive blog with visitors being able to leave comments and an entire online community where people organise events in their towns and cities.
All of these features combine to create a sense of trust that can’t be beaten. And the cute dog and cat doodles help too, of course…
02. Rocco & Roxie Supply Co – Dog Treats With A Story To Tell
The message from Rocco & Roxie Supply Co, a company specializing in selling pet treats, is a simple one: “Best friends deserve the best treats.” This striking piece of copy is just the first on an honest and enjoyable journey in discovering this unique brand. Each and every word rings true, feeling more like a friend telling you about their business than an actual sales pitch. Where Healthy Spot’s copy made the company feel like a trusted corporation Rocco & Roxie feels like a lovable aunt, who started something in her garage and whose business is now flourishing.
Rocco and Roxie Supply Co showcase their different products effectively.
Reading through their About Us section genuinely made me happy having discovered this brand. The way they broke down the “About Us” section, usually a tedious read full of gimmicky words and phrases, into a simple triumvirate of “-Our Mission-”, “-Our Story-”, and “-Our Why-” is brilliant. Finishing it off with a picture of Rocco, a smiling labradoodle, and Roxie, a stately tabby is a masterstroke.
The eponymous Rocco & Roxie creating that deeper bind between product and consumer.
The effect is that the consumer buys into the story. “I want my pets to have what Rocco and Roxie are having!” you tell yourself. But good copy only gets visitors through the door. Converting those visitors into customers is something that this store achieves through simple but effective design. The different types of products are nicely showcased in collections which then leads to a product listing page, which once a product is selected leads to a dedicated product page complete with product info and review. The checkout process is straightforward and streamlined effectively minimising the number of abandoned carts.
Rocco & Roxie Supply Co is a great example of an online store who uses content and copy to draw visitors in before using great design to land the knockout blow.
03. Petsense – A No Thrill Pet Supply Mecca
Unlike the prior Shopify pet supplies stores, Petsense decided to go the opposite direction.
The mission behind this online store is “providing quality pet products at competitive prices.” That’s it. No thrills, no personal connection, no homemade artisan vegan-friendly nibble bits. Known products at low prices. The thing that is great about Petsense is that they know who their customers are. They then took this info and crafted the store accordingly. That’s why the first thing you’ll see when you arrive at the landing page is a banner promising a 10% discount. The message and the tone form Setsense is: “We know why you’re here and we’re not going to waste your time.”
Petsense is a no thrills and bargain driven store.
The store categories are easily navigable, being divided into “Dog” and “Cat” options. As soon as one is selected you then have the option of further filters and categories to help you get to your desired products as easily as possible. Each product has a rating from real customers, adding to the credibility. The checkout process is just as streamlined making the entire purchasing process as hassle-free as possible. The only real minor drawback is the fact that the auto-suggest feature in the search bar isn’t accompanied by images, making it a little bit more difficult to find what you’re looking for.
The products are easily found through the product listing page.
As a whole, this site isn’t as feel-good and authentic as the other examples on the list. It is however extremely effective at what it sets out to do which is to help their customers save money and time.
04. Dog Quality – Because Every Dog Has Its Day
Dog Quality makes its way on the list because it is a brilliant example of finding a niche within a niche. Instead of just focusing on dog accessories, like so many other Shopify pet supplies stores out there, Dog Quality decided to focus on accessories for elderly dogs.
This means that they specialise in everything from dog strollers to dog diapers and ramps for that old family member who struggles to jump on the bed for early morning snuggles. A brilliant niche within a niche.
Dog Quality concentrates on elderly dog products and solutions, brilliant niche within a niche.
The overall tone of the copy is endearing and deeply personal as they must know that their customers are experiencing some stress and uncertainty when they seek them out. No one googles dog diapers unless they have to.
At the same time, the design is fun and dynamic and it showcases the products in a respectful way, something that is important when dealing with such an emotional subject as canine mobility and incontinence. Each product features its own description and reviews, which adds to that level of trust.
The only major criticism of the store is that it isn’t designed in such a way that preempts a visitor’s next need. This means that important and trust-building features like their testimonials, blogs and social media network have all been shelved under “about” while dedicating an entire separate page to each of their different types of products. But as far as flaws go, these are still forgivable. Unlike that of our last store.
05. iPettie – A Pet Tech Store Compromised Through Bad Copy
iPettie is one of those exciting Shopify pet supplies stores that feature innovative products for your pets. The products are great if you believe the reviews on the site. But in that word “if” lies the problem… If means uncertainty or distrust. An uncertainty and distrust caused by bad copy.
iPettie uses the same image for different products, as well a using long, bulky and forgettable product titles. Not to mention the awkward “winter new arrival” on the top of the image…
Now when I refer to bad copy I am not being pedantic, citing the odd little mistake here and there.
What I’m referring to is the rampant and repetitive mistakes strewn throughout the store’s text. Phrases like “As water is the driving force of all nature, we pay much attention to the details on pets drinking issues…” undermine the product’s credibility and integrity. As soon as those shatter one starts to see little cracks all over the store. Things like a photoshopped cat next to a drinking fountain, the repetitive use of “easy cleaning” as opposed to the more natural “easy to clean…”, or the fact that there’s only two blog post, both of them a year apart… These do not bode well, and they sent the alarm bells ringing.
Just some of the low-quality content you’ll find on iPettie…
The copy on this store made me question whether this product was good enough for my pet, where the rest of the stores got me excited about potentially buying the product for my pet.
And on that cautionary example, I’ll leave you to your own creativity and devices. Remember that in such an emotionally loaded sector like the pet supply industry you seldom get the chance to make a second impression, so be sure that your first one is on point!