ROCKVILLE, MD. — Online pet product sales now make up 30% of the total market, according to market research firm Packaged Facts, a number that has grown notably from just 8% in 2015, accelerated by changing pet owner preferences and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

In Packaged Facts’ “U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2021-2022” report, the firm pointed out that this shift to e-commerce is reshaping the industry as a whole, from pet service and product purchasing to veterinary trends and pet acquisition.

A few companies are standing out in this rapidly growing retail category, including purely online platforms as well as traditionally brick-and-mortar stores that have added robust online ordering capabilities in recent years.

These hybrid companies include Walmart, PetSmart, Petco, Costco and Tractor Supply Company. However, purely online retailers continue to dominate this space. These e-commerce mavens include Amazon, Chewy and Walmart. 

According to Packaged Facts, among pet owners who report purchasing pet products online, 59% order from Amazon, 41% order from Chewy and 33% order from Walmart.

When measured in dollars, Amazon is the clear frontrunner, pulling in nearly half of all e-commerce pet product sales, according to Packaged Facts.

The firm went on to share pet food and treat products are the most commonly purchased category in the online space. This has not always been the case, Packaged Facts reported, but thanks to the reduction of shipping and handling expenses and companies offering convenience and variety, the e-commerce market for these products has grown markedly.

These numbers “point to an ongoing technological revolution that will continue to recast how to win and who will do so in the pet industry,” commented David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts.

For example, Packaged Facts asked pet owners about evolving technology transforming pet purchasing. Twenty-three percent of Millennial and Gen Z pet owners said technology was saving them time on pet care, along with 16% of Gen X and 9% of Baby Boomer pet owners. Another 21% of Millennial and Gen Z owners went on to say technology is “allowing them to spend more quality time with their pets,” with 19% of Gen X and 13% of Baby Boomer pet owners agreeing.

While this shift to e-commerce is both reflecting and influencing pet owner behaviors, it is also affecting their access to information about pet products. A February 2021 survey by Packaged Facts revealed veterinarians remain the “top influencers” for pet care information, rated No. 1 by 58% of pet owners surveyed, but the emerging omnichannel, including brick-and-mortar stores and their online counterparts, come in at a close second among 56% of pet owners.

Earlier this year, Packaged Facts predicted the overall retail pet product sector will reach $94.6 billion in sales by 2025, with e-commerce making up 53% of sales in the total market by that time.

Keep up with the latest pet food trends on our Trends page.