The Pet Supplies category on Amazon saw tremendous growth in 2020. We serve hundreds of pet brands, providing us a healthy data sample through which to assess category trends. The numbers we’re seeing: pet sales grow over 65% year over year!
With growth like that, it’s an exciting time to be selling pet products on Amazon. If you’re interested in joining the rat race (see what we did there?), keep on reading! We’ve put together a comprehensive overview of how the Pet Supplies category on Amazon is looking for 2021.
Pet Supplies Category: Defining Features
The Pet Supplies category can be understood as a few general subcategories: Toys, Wearables, Edibles, and Topicals. Each can be further broken down. For example, the Toys subcategory can be broken down into throwables, plushies, durables, and bones. Each of these subcategories has their own brand leaders, each of whom rank high organically with branded and non-branded keywords. When entering the Pet Supplies category on Amazon, it’s important to identify which subcategory or niche your products will fall into so you can research the most relevant competitors.
The Pet Supplies category is highly saturated. This saturation means that your marketing needs to be on its A-game if you want to gain a foothold. Success in the Pet Supplies category requires a sizable marketing budget, high–quality assets, and superb customer support.
Struggles with Counterfeits
The category also struggles disproportionately with counterfeit product. The low production and freight costs often associated with this category make it a prime hunting ground for counterfeiters. To defend against counterfeits, brands need to maintain high–quality listings, file for trademarks, utilize Amazon Brand Registry, and work closely with authorized sellers to offer exclusive perks that unauthorized sellers cannot match. By doing so, brands coach shoppers to buy from authorized sellers, helping them maintain channel control.
Issues with Price Parity
Another common issue when selling in the Pet Supplies category is rolled Buy Boxes. Amazon enforces price parity, which means that products sold on Amazon must be offered the lowest price available across all of ecommerce. If a product is offered for a lower price off Amazon, Amazon will take one of two actions:
- If Amazon Retail is a seller in the listing, they will drop the product price to match. This can trigger a pricing race to zero.
- If Amazon Retail is not a seller in the listing, they will roll the Buy Box, which means that the seller, fulfillment method, price, and Add to Cart button will be replaced by a button that says “See All Buying Options.” A rolled Buy Box prevents ads from running and lowers conversion rate, as the deviation from the normal listing page view can create confusion or hesitation in shoppers. A rolled Buy Box will result in a drastic decrease in sales, so it’s paramount to take the steps to avoid this.
Many pet products are also sold on Chewy.com, which has earned some notoriety among Amazon sellers for slashing prices and triggering rolled Buy Boxes on Amazon. If brands intend to sell product on both Chewy and Amazon, it’s important that they understand how the two channels will impact each other. Brands will need to communicate with Chewy and their Amazon sellers about how they wish to coordinate their overall ecommerce strategy.
COVID-19 Impact on the Pet Supplies Category
- We’ve seen pet brands grow Amazon sales 65% YOY, which is fueled in part by pet parents spending more time at home with their furry friends.
- As an example, our data on one pet life jacket product shows that sales have increased from 400 units last year to 9,000 units this year, a 2,000% increase YOY. Pet owners are keeping their pets safe as the pandemic prompts more getaway trips to the great outdoors.
Regulations in the Pet Supplies Category
Pet product regulations usually fall under one of two agencies: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s important that sellers and brands know how their products are regulated, as Amazon closely follows federal regulations.
Generally, products that are ingested by animals and claim to treat, cure, or mitigate any diseases are regulated by the FDA. In this case, there are very specific regulatory paths and compliance requirements that must be met to sell on Amazon.
On the other hand, topicals, such as treatments for ticks or fleas, are pesticides and therefore regulated by the EPA. Specifically, any product that claims to repel pests (microbes included) must be registered with the EPA. Amazon will verify this, so brands should acquire their EPA registrations prior to creating listings on Amazon. If they don’t, their listings will likely be flagged by Amazon until Amazon receives the EPA registration information, resulting in unnecessary delays, suppressed listings, and possible account deactivation.
“Grooming Aids” are a bit of an exception in the Pet Supplies category. Pet soaps, shampoos, lotions, etc. are not regulated by the FDA or EPA, but sellers must be careful with marketing these products. Any pesticide or disease claim could risk getting the listing restricted, which would require going through a lengthy appeals process to address.
The Best Doggone Guide to Pet Supplies on Amazon
Like what you’re learning? This is only scratching the surface. Our Amazon marketing experts put together a comprehensive guide for selling pet products on Amazon. In addition to a category overview, it shares 10 actionable marketing strategies tailored specifically for the Pet Supplies category.