BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM — Pet owners across the United Kingdom expect to increase their online spending by 12% in 2023, according to Whistl, a local e-commerce-focused logistics company. The company’s “eCommerce Consumer Research” report wrapped earlier this year, which involved a survey of 1,000 people, 61% of whom own pets.

Within the pet-owning segment of survey respondents, Whistl identified a median household income of at least £70,000 (roughly $85,428 USD), that 56% of them have kids as well as pets, 46% were male and 54% were female, and that 73% of pet-owning respondents had dogs while 53% had cats. Additionally, 32% of the group were between the ages of 18 and 24; 49% were between the ages of 35 and 43; and 19% were 55 years old or older.

According to the research, the UK e-commerce market topped £111.5 billion ($136.1 billion USD) in 2022, with online revenue for 2027 projected to reach £168.8 billion ($206 billion USD). These sales were fueled by more than 55.8 million online shoppers throughout the country. In addition, the United Kindgom’s penetration rate of 82.7% is ranked No. 2 across the globe, according to Whistl. Clearly, British consumers are playing a big role in the e-commerce game.

However, this great interest comes with great fiscal responsibility, and not all pet owners across the pond are feeling positive about their spending.

According to the survey, cohorts that were “least confident and most worried” about their financial situation were consumers with kids or pets, female consumers, younger consumers, and those with lower household incomes.

Despite these hesitancies, pet-owning respondents said they expect to increase their online spending by 12% on average in 2023. These consumers are also subscription savvy, with 40% currently having a recurring subscription for e-commerce purchases.

When the purchase is made and all that’s left is delivery, pet owners noted delivery cost as paramount, trumping even the speed of delivery in terms of importance. More than half (52%) of respondents with pets noted delivery cost as the No. 1 most important delivery feature, compared to the 26% who ranked delivery speed as No. 1.

According to Whistl, consumers with pets are more inclined to be attracted to products with free returns, with 47% of this audience claiming free returns as “very appealing” and a temptation for purchasing. Additionally, UK pet owners may be more likely to return items purchased online. The report noted pet owners expect to return 15% of online buys in 2023 on average, which is “significantly higher than the average across all online shoppers.”

Other enticing e-commerce offers unique to pet-owning respondents include free delivery, with 63% claiming this feature would tempt them to buy the product, as well as free samples of other products (34%), exclusive offers for existing customers (33%), same- or next-day delivery (32%), a complimentary gift with the purchase (31%), product reviews posted on a product’s website (31%), and the option for “green” or sustainable delivery (30%).

On the flip side, there are a few e-commerce tactics UK pet owners are likely to ignore. For example, 61% said they do not find free returns for an annual fee appealing, and would likely ignore those products. Additionally, while a wide swath of this audience is active on social media, 61% said they are not interested in influencer product endorsements on social media, and 56% said they would not buy a product directly from a social media site.

Read more about Whistl’s eCommerce Consumer Research here.

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