If you were a fan of the pet shop before lockdown, you’ll be aware that Covid-19 pandemic has brought some profound changes to the way we buy pet products.

Where we used to browse the aisle for pet treats and accessories, we now increasingly browse the internet. dotsure.co.za is already a huge fan of buying online and was the first company to offer pet cover over the internet (at a price you prefer).


Buying online has some serious benefits right now:

– It lowers your risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus because you don’t have to leave home to do it.
– You can do it from anywhere with an internet connection.
– You can do it whenever it suits you, night or day.
– You can easily shop around for the best prices, deals and products with a google search, a few clicks or taps.
– You may save by buying in bulk (tried those 10 kg premium dry food bags?).
– Many online retailers let you choose delivery or collection.
– Customer-centric online shops may make personalised suggestions based on what you’ve bought before. Great for discovering awesome new products!


Overall growth, not just online

The evolution of purchasing pet products online reflects growth in the greater pet care market here and abroad.

The “Pet Care in South Africa” report points out that the “current value sales growth for the market was up on 2019,” as growth in total pet food volume sales were, too.

Purchasing nutritional, wellness and lifestyle goodies for your dogs, cats, rabbits and reptiles over the internet was also already a growing movement in the USA in 2019, according to Forbes.

The shift is not new, Forbes notes, but the pandemic is pushing companies to adopt and adapt to ecommerce urgently or suffer loss of business as competition increases at every customer touchpoint, virtual and physical.

The business news leader continues that online sales accounted for a full 22% of all pet products sold in the USA in that year. There was an upsurge in digital sales to 30% due to stay-at-homes during the American lockdown.

It also came with a measure of uncertainty, however.

“Sellers of pet products,” Forbes explains, “have had to race to catch up with the alarming rate of change in sales channels, mix of products being sold and the overall change from growth to decline.”

As an example, American pet products company, Packaged Facts, projected that online sales in its pet products would rise by 5% in early 2020. Lockdown halted a large proportion of the production, distribution and consumption of pet products, which pushed this prediction over into negative growth numbers “with non-food pet supplies down 23% and non-medical pet services declining by 47%.”


Brick-and-mortar stores adapt and innovate in response

While “e-tailers” have been navigating the ups and downs of doing busines online during worldwide shutdowns, brick-and-mortar stores also competed by adding the option for home deliveries and roadside pick-ups.

It’s likely that physical stores will continue to be a powerful part of the pet product trade despite many stores being forced to close or remain in business but furlough staff or lower salaries. Or both!

Physical shops are now challenged to make sure you still get to enjoy knowledgeable, kind and caring attention despite smaller teams and reduced remuneration. Look out for star in-store salespeople!


Buying pet products during and beyond lockdown: What to expect locally

The projections for the pet care sector in South Africa are upbeat. Despite economic instability, pet care in South Africa showed an improved performance in 2020 and most pet parents continue to access pet care products from supermarkets.


Buying pet products during and beyond lockdown: What to expect globally

Here are a few ways shopping for the furry, feathery family may benefit pets all over the world in future:

• Potentially there will be more pet product info everywhere online, from Instagram to your inbox. Forbes highlights that individual brands are developing their online presence to ensure customer loyalty, and forward-thinking retail stores are increasingly embracing digital to maintain a competitive edge.

• Possible events at pet stores – to let you know about new products and get feet through the door. Expect mask-mandatory and socially distant gatherings with limited numbers for some time.

• You might also enjoy pet product events remotely as video conferencing and live video streaming with chat become increasingly popular. A headset for your next hamster care lesson, anyone?

• Progressive e-shops may offer an easy “click-to-deliver” option for repeat purchases like pet food at the tap of a single button.

• More custom diets for dogs, cats and other pets. People are thinking more about what’s on the pets’ plates and the market is serving them with meals as tailored as Name Your Price pet insurance.

The bottom line is we’re investing in our pets despite trying times and more and more of that is done online, but the go-to pet store is also increasingly designed as a destination for pet-related entertainment, information and fulfilment of orders. Looks like pets and their moms and dads get the best of both worlds.

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