Hey there my pet loving Sea Changers and welcome back to my series covering some of the ways that we can make money online. Today I want to discuss with you the processes around how to sell pet supplies online. This is a highly competitive yet lucrative market if you can find a good niche and provide serious solutions to the pet related problems of the world.
Why is it so lucrative? Because there are literally thousands of sub niches that you can get involved in and people spend money on their pets. What’s more, they are usually happy to do so online – my neighbour even bought her kids some hermit crabs online at Christmas time – yep, crabs, tanks and sand delivered to her door. So if you are interested in pets of any type, then this could be a good one for you as you look to fund your sea change. Anyway, let’s have a look and see what we can find out about pet supplies online.
How do we get started?
Now, I mentioned earlier that this is a potentially competitive market, but also one large enough that you can find so many sub niches that you really can make a decent amount of income – we will discuss this more soon – but before we begin we also need to confirm if there is actually is a market for it. So let’s use this section to see where interest lies…
What are people looking for?
To start let’s just confirm our market numbers:
1. Number of monthly searches
Now, I can confirm for you that pet related product searches are high so let’s start by checking out a few of the more common enquiries to see where we are at. You will need to find yourself a good keyword tool (I use Jaaxy) and enter in the keywords that best describe your market. In this case, let’s start with the basics:
Not bad – 33500 plus searches per month shows a definite interest – which we already kind of knew as it is such a large niche. From the list above however, we can also see some ideas on the other search types that are undertaken so let’s dig a little deeper :
There are some good numbers there (the results for varying search commands scroll a fair bit further than shown) and definitely shows that people are at least looking for information in regards to pet food. This also starts to show us other avenues or specifications we can concentrate on such as food for cats or dogs, natural foods, organic foods and so on. What about a different area:
Again, a good number of searches – I would be happy with the amount of searches undertaken per month here as it again shows that people are willing to at least consider this sort of thing online – there are also ample angles that could be investigated such as pet grooming supplies, services or how to’s.
2. Growth trends
Another important aspect of online sales and niche selection is to check that interest is maintained or increasing over time. To gain an insight into this let’s check out how pet supply related searches are trending online.
So what does this tell us? Well let’s break it down:
- Interest in purchasing these products has been well maintained, if not risen slightly over the past 5 years.
- Pet food is the most popular search.
- Interest is popular all year round – i.e. it is not seasonal.
All in all, I see a really good opportunity here.
What is our niche?
Ok, now the fun part begins – we need to start looking at breaking down our market into a niche. We have already discussed that the size of this niche is huge and, at least in my opinion, too large to manage on its own. Now you may already know what it is that you are going to look at but if not, here are some options that I have come up with off the top of my head and from looking into keyword searches as above…
- Pet food – for specific animals, for health, organic, keto, live food etc.
- Pet grooming – for specific animals, products, services, how to’s, for showing and so on
- Pet health – for specific animals, generalist, age, specific diseases or breed related issues
- Aged care – how to care for older animals
- Showing – variations as above
- Breeding – variations as above, legalities, permits, newborn care etc.
- Exotic/unusual pets – handling, permit requirements, care, grooming – there is a big market here!
As you work through narrowing your targeted niche, consider the following:
- Are you able to solve a problem – Most people undertake searches on the internet to solve a problem – see next section.
- Is it a subject that you have an interest, or knowledge in– I am guessing that you are in this post as you know about, or have an interest in pets or animals. If you don’t have either of these, maybe consider another market as, to be honest, you might struggle to produce solid content if you don’t know much about them – or worse, have no interest in them – and trust me, people will know immediately if your information is not up to scratch.
Let’s investigate this a little further by discussing the problem solving elements of niche selection.
What problem are we solving?
As we discussed earlier, you may already know what it is that you are trying to sell. If not, then maybe start to look at it from the perspective of solving problems.
Think about your own search behaviours when you are online – I would hazard a guess that most searches you do are in order to solve a problem. These can be in a number of ways such as:
- You know that you want to groom your poodle but don’t know how to do it.
- You have a problem and need a solution – i.e. “I want to buy a pet for my 6 year old but don’t know which type is best”.
Your goal here is to determine just what problem/s you are trying to solve for your readers. This may be one problem that spans your site or differ for each post that you write. For example, if you have chosen dog grooming for your niche, then problems might be:
- Equipment choice – they have a poodle and want to know which equipment is best for grooming it.
- Which to buy – they want a puppy bath- but which is best?
- Grooming techniques – they have a specific type of dog – how often should they groom it and what should they be doing?
In these cases, people would be searching for those topics based on having a problem and needing a solution. Your site would outline and review the best options for them.
Alternatively, if your site is about pets for children for example, then you would be addressing problems such as the fact that I know I want to purchase a pet for my six year old but don’t know which is best. You would then be outlining the best pets for children based on:
- Location size
- Care requirements
- And so on
Note: You do not need to identify every possible problem that your readers may have straight away. In many cases, the more you write, the more ‘problems’ will present themselves so initially you really just want to make sure that there are some that may need solving as we have found here.
How are you going to convince them to buy?
Now that we know our niche (or are at least working on it) and have an idea of the types of problems that we want to solve, there is one last thing to consider which is the issue of consumer buying habits. The beauty of this niche is that it not only classifies as a hobby, but also health and well-being and making money as well depending on what you readers are after.
The thing to be aware of here however is if your niche is in any other field than “what type of pet should I buy?” then you have to assume that your readers are generally quite knowledgeable and passionate about their pets. They are family so if you are not writing with great authority, you will lose your readership very quickly.
You need to write with passion, commitment and do your research. This is definitely a niche where there is a high level of online purchase behaviour but only if they trust you. Yes, people will purchase online, but they will not put their pets at risk – especially if that risk entails a potential vet bill.
So at the end of the day, we need to find ways to convince people that you know what you are talking about and that they can safely purchase from you. Here are some ways that you can do that:
- Provide information without sales – That’s right – write your posts in a way that actually makes it easy for people to do their research without having to purchase from you – by doing this, you are solving problems and helping readers out. If they trust you, they will be more likely to return next time and buy from you then – especially if you follow up with posts on making life easier for them and their furry little friends!
- Provide the intangibles – In many cases, potential buyers will go to the store so that they can touch, feel and see the item they are interested in. Now obviously there is not way for them touch it when it is online, but you can describe it, show it and let them see it work – via video. Shoot demonstration videos and add them to your posts. That way, you might be able to give them the info they need without them leaving your page.
- Highlight advantages – Are you cheaper, does your vendor provide a good warranty, free shipping or a bonus discount? You will be surprised how many will suddenly not need to go elsewhere if they are saving money. Also, be clear to outline returns policies etc.
- Know your audience – A big mistake many make here is to not target the real needs of the buyer. This is especially important when dealing with pets in different sub niches. Family pet owners looking after a family dog are going to be looking for information on a completely different level than professional groomers or dog showers. Breeders and showers may usually want specifics such as specs and features – whilst family pet owners may just want to know how you can make their life easier, or their pet healthier to avoid expensive vet bills.
Tip: Still not sure? Have a look and see what others are doing. It might just help you with some ideas.
What do we need to do?
Ok, so now that we have an idea in regards to our niche and know some of the problems that we can investigate, we need to choose and setup the media that we intend to use to sell our product. This can include:
Build a Website
Websites allow you to solve problems via blog posts, videos and/or ‘how to’ demonstrations that people can view in order to identify the solutions that they need. Usually, this process is fairly straight forward in that you build your website, write posts (on the best food for overweight pets for example), then provide links so that they can view/purchase the relevant food online.
Promote on Social Media
Social media is a powerful platform that can allow you to get your message out there into the big wide online world with the ability to reach thousands. It also allows you to target specific segments if you choose the correct platform. In terms of selling pet supplies online, as we have discussed earlier the obvious social media platform to start with is YouTube so that you can demonstrate products with pets. There are other video platforms out there but as YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, then my suggestion would be to start there.
Demo videos can also be posted to FaceBook and Instagram and are great for brand building and exposure.
Join like-minded groups
The beauty about the world of pets is that regardless of the sub niche you have chosen, you can really get amongst your target audience quickly as there is usually some sort of social media group, online forum or membership page that you can join to gain you exposure to potential visitors and sales. FaceBook for example is a great place to gain access to hobby, show and professional groups alike and can not only allow you to interact with customers but also gain more information and education in terms of content ideas for your posts or products.
Alternatively, Instagram and Pinterest may work well if you wanted to demonstrate your grooming expertise with pictures of your work, or of you with your pets.
Note: Many of these groups will not allow you to spruike or promote your sites directly, however if you can interact and demonstrate your knowledge then people will ask you privately for the information. At the very least, as above, it is a great way to get ideas and insight into what people in this area really want to know about and what they are buying online.
How do we sell them?
Ok, so we have an idea that we want to sell pet supplies, that there is a market and that we need some media within which to promote them. So now we need to consider what products we are going to promote. Let’s have a look at some of the best avenues for selling within the Pet Supply niche:
Affiliate marketing, in short, this means that you will write about pets and supplies by solving problems and then referring your readers to a link where they will purchase directly from the vendors. You then make your money via commissions from those vendors. Affiliate programs are setup directly by companies or marketplace platforms (Amazon, Ebay etc.) that allow you to join and then refer traffic to them via customised affiliate links.
To find affiliate programs in the pet space, simply type “affiliate: pet ‘niche’” into your search engine (where niche is the specific area that you are working in). Below is an example for pet food affiliate programs:
Note: search results tend to be geographically based to search results will differ depending on your location.
From here you can search through and find programs that:
- Relate to your niche/problems that you are solving.
- Have quality products – your brand can be severely damaged if you promote poor quality products or fake brands.
- Have solid payment and customer service arrangement.
- Pay decent commissions.
- Have good testimonials covering commission payouts and quality of product.
In most cases, you will need to apply for the program before you are allowed to promote their products – don’t take this step lightly or you will be rejected. Affiliate programs will generally want to know:
- Your website name.
- Traffic levels.
- Why you want to join – (so I can make money by selling your pet snake tanks is unfortunately not generally a good enough answer).
- How you plan to promote their products.
One thing to be aware of here I guess is to keep in mind the issues we discussed earlier in regards to selling anything pet related online. You need to make sure that the programs you choose can be trusted and that the consumer is comfortable that they not only have recourse if something goes wrong, but are not putting their pets at risk. For this reason you will need to make sure that your chosen programs are going to resonate with your readers and your niche.
That said, some marketplace programs such as Amazon and EBay can give you access to these types of products and as they are more trusted, then they may be worth a look for sure. Some Amazon examples are as below:
Dropshipping is similar to affiliate marketing in that you are generally promoting the products of others without the need to actually hold any inventory. With affiliate marketing, you are paid a commission on whatever price the vendor sets but do not manage any customer service, sales processes or post sales requirements. The main difference with dropshipping, is that you perform the following (there are a number of variations to this but this is the guist of it):
- Strike a relationship with a wholesaler.
- Promote the product for whatever price you see fit – often via a marketplace site such as Shopify, Amazon or Ebay.
- Manage the sales processes and customer service.
- Send the final order and payment to the wholesaler for packaging and shipping.
The money that you make is effectively the different between whatever you managed to sell the product for and the wholesale price that you owe the vendor. The other advantages of dropshipping over affiliate marketing is that:
- You own the customer list – which is another means of building an effective email list.
- You control the cost of the product and hence the profit margins.
- You can control when you put things on ‘sale’, group them in packages or increase the price for high demand items.
The disadvantages however are the extra workload in handling payment and any ongoing customer service requirements.
To find dropshipping suppliers online, you can enter “pet ‘niche’: supplier” into your favourite search engine:
Note: Again, these results will usually be based on your geographical location.
From here you can search through and find programs that:
- Offer dropshipping services – Not all product suppliers offer dropshipping as a service.
- Have experience and are helpful – If they are not helpful and/or appear inexperienced then you can expect the same when you are trying to process sales.
- Have acceptable fees – most dropshipping wholesalers will charge a small fee for the dropshipping service – just make sure it is not so high that it eats into your profit margins.
- Provide fast shipping – One disadvantage with dropshipping when dealing with vendors is that the customer is yours, not theirs hence sometimes shipping priorities are not where they should be – make sure shipping times are acceptable.
- Have quality products – as with affiliate marketing, don’t sell rubbish.
- Have a good name – do your research and see what others are saying about them.
Sell your own
If affiliate marketing or dropshipping are not your cup of tea, maybe you could try sourcing and selling your own products. This process is especially popular with those selling pet accessories (collars, jackets, toys, bedding etc.) and commonly referred to as White Labeling. Here you actually purchase your product from a vendor or wholesaler, add your own label and then on-sell them via your website or platforms such as Amazon etc.
This process requires a much higher setup costs as you will need to purchase your products, create and affix your labels and manage orders and shipment. Some wholesalers/vendors however will affix the labels that you send them and then manage the packaging and shipment for you (see dropshipping above). This will cost you less to set up but obviously you will make less on the sale once they take their processing fee.
Again, to find out where to acquire your product, do a search for “white label: pet niche”:
From here you will need to follow the same processes as with affiliate and dropshipping programs in determining whether they are a good fit for your business plans including:
- Relate to your niche/problems that you are solving.
- Have solid delivery and customer service arrangements.
- Have good testimonials covering service and quality of product.
Alternatively, keep your eye out in your local area for pet related exhibitions and trade shows. These are a great way to find and purchase your products at good prices – you never know, you might even find a solid supplier for future sales as well.
Tip: This method can be very effective in driving online traffic and sales via the implementation of more traditional sales methods such as kiosks and market stalls etc. As people get to know you, they can purchase from you there and then be directed to your website for future sales.
And there it is – How to sell pet supplies online. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, need some advice or have any experiences to share.
Do you want further assistance with any of the above or need help to build your own pet based website?
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Until next time
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