Calling all pet suppliers! Turn first-time shoppers into loyal customers with these top tips

The pet care industry is booming, projected to be worth over $200bn globally by 2025

Pet care ecommerce sales in the US alone increased by 67% in 2018, while online pet food sales in the US accounted for 17% of the market, which was pegged to rise by 23% by 2023. 

And in recent weeks, pet care products have seen a sharp spike in demand. According to Nielsen, dog and cat food sales increased by 54% and 52% respectively for the week ending 21 March. Sales of pet supplies rose 24% during the same period. 

Explaining the sudden boom in stats, James Davidson, founder of DTC dog food retailer Tails.com explains: “Just as a mother cares about making sure their child is fed properly and cared for, the same applies to how people think about their pets. And because dogs tend to eat the same food every day, any changes in foods can cause some sort of digestive disruption.”

Just like food delivery services, pet mail-order supply firms have been overwhelmed with online traffic in recent weeks, with some sites like Pets at Home seeing a 35 minute wait just to access the website. 

Now is the time for digital-first pet brands to shine, as the demand for home-delivered pet supplies is experiencing a phenomenal boost. 

With the below three strategies, you can make the most of this boom by capturing new shoppers and turning them into loyal, long-term customers that will return and repeat purchase. 

1️⃣ Encourage one-time shoppers to become loyal members

It’s crucial to provide an ecommerce experience that is helpful, informative and easy-to-use. In fact, 78% of shoppers are likely to create an account if the sign-up process is easy. Therefore you need to encourage potential members to join your program by making it as quick and simple as possible. To encourage them to become a member, you can also award loyalty points for account creation.

For example, TruDog first briefly explains the benefits of their loyalty program on their landing page.

Then, to encourage guest shoppers to create an account, they offer 500 points in return.

In order to prevent shoppers from losing their interest, they use a simple form that requires basic information.

When guest shoppers become a member of your loyalty program, you can unlock insights about their unique buying patterns to deliver more personalized communications and offerings.

As a result of their approach, TruDog have turned over 30,000 new customers into members, who spend 74% more than guest shoppers. They have also increased their members’ repeat purchase rates by 66%.

2️⃣ Increase loyalty through shared values and community 

Beyond the quality and price of your products, social responsibility and shared values are key to securing customer loyalty.

68% of customers have said that they are loyal to the brands who share the same values as them. Customers see brands as an extension of a friend or family member and as such, want to know that the brand understands what’s important to them. 

In fact, 89% of shoppers said they would switch to a brand that is associated with a good cause, given similar quality and price considerations. 

The customer needs to know what role the company plays within society at large. Overwhelmingly, they want it to be a positive one. Your loyalty program is an incredibly useful tool to help you build a community with shared values at its heart. And, now is the best time to reflect your brand values to your community.

For example, Edgard Cooper highlights their brand values directly through their home page.  As animal welfare is at the heart of their business, they donate 10% of their profits to animal care clinics.

They also show they are aligned with their customers by offering rewards that support ethical causes customers care about. For instance, they encourage their customers to exchange “Belly Rubs” – loyalty points – for donating meals to dog shelters or planting trees.

You can also show your customers how aligned you are with them by giving them opportunities to earn points for completing thoughtful actions, such as returning packaging to be reused.

3️⃣ Incentivise UGC as social proof

One of the best ways to build trust in your product is with online reviews. Recent research shows that 91% of consumers check online reviews to guide their purchasing decisions, and 85% of those trust those reviews as much as they would trust recommendations from their friends or family.

Trustpilot’s Peter Simpson, Global Head of Partnerships, advises brands “to look at how reviews can be used across the entire funnel, really helping to distance you from the competition.”

Use your loyalty program to encourage customers to leave a review about your product or store. You can then use these reviews on social media as genuine proof for how great your products are. Not only that, but you can give your SEO rankings a fantastic boost too.

For example, here you can see that Dogs Naturally uses their loyalty program to drive user generated content, incentivizing members with 250 points for every product review they take the time to leave. This approach has helped them to collect over 11,000 reviews

You can also send referral prompt emails to all those customers who have left a 4 or 5 star review, asking them to take that advocacy one step further and refer a friend or family member in exchange for more points. This is a great way to build longer-lasting relationships with your customers whilst acquiring new customers in the meantime.

? Key takeaways

Online pet suppliers have certainly seen an unanticipated spike in sales, but the key is to keep those new customers returning online rather than heading back to brick and mortar suppliers. 

You can use the below three tactics to turn one-time shoppers into long-term customers: 

  • Encourage guest shoppers to sign up to your loyalty program
  • Communicate your shared values to increase loyalty and create a community  
  • Incentivise customers to create user generated content as social proof to others 

By following the above three strategies to convert one-off customers into loyalty members, you can pursue steady growth for your business by increasing the customer lifetime value of the customers that already know and trust your brand. 

If you’re a pet supplier and you’d like to talk about any of the retention strategies outlined in this post in more detail, then get in touch with one of our team – we’d be happy to show you some more examples or talk through your store’s unique challenges.

About the author

Willow

Willow is our CTO, Dave's best friend, and a valued member of the LoyaltyLion team. She is a very good doggo and she keeps us in good spirits. She also gives us the inside scoop on all things pet supply related and is a loyalty expert.

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