The pet industry is booming. In 2019, the Washington Post reported that 68% of households in the US owned a pet. Since the start of the pandemic, one in five more US households adopted a pet, according to a poll done by the ASPCA, which added a full 23 million to that initial number. Thankfully, the majority (about 90%) of those families still have those pets in their homes.
Have you ever heard the phrase or seen the bumper stickers that say “Who rescued who?” Studies have shown that owning a pet increases self-esteem, empathy, and healthy lifestyle changes, while also reducing stress and anxiety. In a time where those things are needed more than ever, it’s no wonder that people have added new members to their families.
For ecommerce merchants within the pet industry, bringing those levels of empathy and familial relationship references are some of the keys to connecting with your customers. It’s not enough any more to just offer pet food or new toys. The best pet subscription boxes find ways to communicate the thoughtfulness and science behind why they sell what they sell, while incorporating fun products.
The convenience of ecommerce pet subscription boxes
As a pet subscription box brand, you know how important the experience is to your customers. As with any consumer, they are strapped for time and searching for convenience. In ecommerce, convenience is the driving force behind the growth of online purchasing. Customers want to receive high-quality products and services directly to their door, without having to brave traditional shopping environments.
Subscription boxes take that convenience to the next level. Having a crystal clear checkout illustrating the value a customer receives from signing up for a recurring subscription plan can help remove any hesitation from signing up. Many brands also choose to include freebies or samples for their subscribers which increases the likelihood of cross-selling, and in turn, higher average order value (AOV).
Pretty Litter, a cat litter ecommerce brand, also sells cat food on subscription. Anticipating that customers may not know of this offering, they offer it in a few ways during checkout. At first, they offer a full-sized bag of cat food to go along with the monthly box of cat litter. If declined, they give the option for customers to get a sample size, removing any fear or doubt that they may waste money if their cat doesn’t like the food. This small act creates a unique experience, tapping into the understanding that pets, just like people, have preferences. The commitment of a monthly subscription box may be scary, so offering affordable sample options is a great way to mitigate that fear.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks… or can you?
Pair the convenience factor with the ability to educate consumers, and ecommerce brands stand out from traditional retailers, especially in the younger generations of shoppers. By showcasing educational content on the same website where customers will be placing their order, you can inform them on a journey-specific level.
Honest Paws, a pet brand specializing in CBD, provides learning opportunities in the form of a blog. They understand that not everyone is familiar with the benefits of providing CBD to pets, so they created a robust library of articles that span many different topics. By going above and beyond and providing this level of information, customers can do a lot of the heavy lifting within the sales cycle. Getting educated accelerates the convincing factor that your product is something they need.
Picky pets and lots of food options
If you’ve raised a toddler, you’ll likely have flashbacks of the dinner-time standoffs. Many pets choose the same tactics as toddlers, turning their noses up at food that they may have liked just days before. Additionally, when animals age, their dietary needs shift and change. Where puppies need food supplemented with nutrients to help them grow, older dogs need food to help with their joints and skin.
Personalizing the meal plan for a customer’s furry friend creates a sense that your brand truly cares about nailing it for their pet. Spot & Tango, a pet food brand who has revolutionized dry food for dogs, has a short questionnaire for consumers to fill out to help them generate the perfect box of food. Right at checkout, they showcase the value customers receive from signing up for a subscription, and start out with a trial to ensure their pets enjoy the new food.
Including the furry friend of the family
Many pet owners love purchasing fun accessories or toys and healthy treats for their animals. The joy of seeing them interact with new fun products and goodies creates a market for more than just the essentials of pet care. One of the first on the scene of a curated box filled with toys and dog treats was Bark Box. With a themed collection of products shipped monthly, consumers got excited to see what their dog would be “opening.”
The concept of surprising and delighting customers with a curated box doesn’t stop at people-focused items like clothing boxes. Instead, owners and pets alike get just as excited to share in the surprise of opening their monthly box.
TruDog, a dog food subscription box brand, asks up front for customers’ dogs birthdays so they can send them special treats to celebrate. This simple tactic brings personalization to the experience, and helps owners feel that the company is focused on their pet.
A pet subscription box for every need
Food, treats, and toys aren’t the only options for subscription boxes for a pet. There are brands who are branching outside of curated subscription boxes, and creating specific pet memberships can create an experience for owners that help take care of all of their needs.
Dutch is leading the way in this unique way by offering a monthly subscription membership which covers televisits with veterinarians and medications at a fixed cost. While owners still receive a “box” monthly, it’s less about the curation and more about the changing needs of the pet. If a vet visit results in new medications or treatments, the next month’s box will include those as well.
It’s raining cats and dogs!
As people continue to bring furry family members into their homes, the need for and interest in pet subscription boxes will continue to grow. While competing with the ecommerce giants like Amazon may create challenges to capture every pet owner, the uniqueness and level of care the you can exhibit as a DTC merchant sets you apart.
Focus on the experience for customers. With every subscription box, is there something memorable and exciting that keeps them coming back? Surprising and delighting customers is one facet, but creating flexibility for customers is another huge potential for winning them over. As their needs change and pets enter and sadly leave their families, showcasing your empathy for their situation, celebrating their excitement, and treating their loved ones as loved ones of your own will go far.