Are you an animal lover? Perhaps you already work with pets or have a host of them at home. If you’ve been toying with starting a business to channel your animal instincts, an ecommerce website might be the right route for you to sell pet supplies.
We know that building a business can seem daunting and takes dedication, but you don’t have to be a marketing guru to do it effectively. We’ve compiled a selection of tips and tricks to guide you on how to set up your store and sell pet supplies online. From deciding what products to sell to which website builders to use to create your website, we’re on hand to help.
Before you know it, you’ll have a successful business running in no time!
Figure Out Which Products to Sell Online
First things first, you need to figure out exactly what you’ll be selling online. And bear in mind, you’re not the first person considering how to sell pet supplies online, so it’s worth researching your competition. Browse other websites from a customer’s perspective and see what appeals to you as a pet-owner and animal lover yourself, and the price at which you are willing to buy those products.
Figuring out your niche can help you stand out and make it easier to appeal to your target audience; those all-important pet owners. Once you’ve figured out what you can offer that’s unique, you can build a brand around that and figure out which type of buyer you’re going to attract.
Need inspiration? Our list of the Best Selling Pet Products is a great place to start!
Find Out About Any Regulations
As what you’re selling will be used for and on animals, you’ll need to do your research into regulations, which is an all-important step you can’t neglect.
For example, if you’re looking to start selling pet food or treats, you’ll need to make sure that all pet food and treats are safe, produced under sanitary conditions, and contain no harmful substances. It’ll be the same with other animal-related products too, such as shampoos, supplements, and certain types of accessories. So do your research and make sure you’re covered!
Choose a Name for Your Online Pet Supplies Store
Now it’s time to choose the name of your online pet supplies store, which is one of the vital steps in creating your business. If you get this right, people will be more likely to remember you and come back, or share your website with friends – this is the word-of-mouth marketing that can really help you grow.
Your name will also likely affect your site’s search engine rankings because it’ll impact how often people are searching for you.
Struggling to pick a name? There are various name generators available online to stir up fresh ideas – so do some browsing for more inspiration.
Register Your Business Name and Apply for Licenses
What’s next? Setting up a business can be done in various ways but all of them require registration of some sort, which will depend on the size of your business, shareholders, and legal owners. You need to do this in order to be legally recognized, and there are a variety of options for registration; such as registering as a sole trader or a limited company.
When it comes to working with live animals and animal products, you’ll also need to look into licensing and permits. Check to see if your business activities are regulated by a federal agency and whether you need to submit an application with them. It’s best to check with the issuing agency for details on the business license cost for some expert advice.
Find Suppliers for Your Products
Many entrepreneurs find themselves hitting a wall when it comes to sourcing the actual products. This part can be tricky but don’t worry, there are tons of resources once you start digging around on Google. Before you start this though, it’s worth making a few decisions. Perhaps most importantly, which type of supplier you’re looking for.
There are generally three main types people go for:
- A manufacturer who produces your product idea
- A supplier/manufacturer or wholesaler who purchases already-existing brands and products.
- A dropshipping company, which is a form of online retail where entrepreneurs sell products manufactured, stored, and shipped by a third-party company – this is great for less experienced business owners so they can focus on marketing and selling the goods.
You’ll also need to decide whether to source locally or from overseas, which can affect cost and lead-times. A lot of business owners secure two suppliers, once local and one overseas, so that they have a local backup in case there are any problems sourcing products.
Create Your Online Store
Now the fun begins – it’s time to create your online store. Which website builder you use will dictate how people see and remember your brand. It can also impact conversion and sales, so it’s worth taking your time here. We recommend looking into Wix, Shopify, and BigCommerce, which all have a mixture of pros and cons.
Wix: This builder is great for beginners because it’s easy to use. It comes with a host of useful editing tools, strong functionality, a variety of apps, and multichannel selling – plus there’s no need for coding.
Shopify: With stand-out design, wide functionality, and flexibility, Shopify is a popular choice for business owners for good reason. It offers extensive payment options and tons of apps, as well as strong customer service options.
BigCommerce: Offering loads of built-in sales tools, as well as SEO features and multi-channel integration, BigCommerce is a popular choice for ambitious businesses that are looking to grow quickly.
- Interview with Timberdog: We spoke with Timberdog, a business in the pet industry, about their experiences with Shopify.
Choose the Right Design for Your Store
It’s time to get creative! Choosing the right design for your store is an important part of establishing your brand identity and making sure you’re distinguishable from your competitors. Whichever website builder you select will offer various themes and layouts to choose from.
It’s worth considering the following when browsing:
- What features do you want your online pet store to have?
- What style of homepage do you want?
- How do you want customers to move around your store?
- What imagery do you want to be able to add?
Decide Whether to Sell Your Pet Supplies on Marketplaces
When you’re new to the online selling game, you might be asking yourself if you should start selling your products on a marketplace like Amazon or eBay, as well as your own online store.
The benefit of selling on marketplaces is that it’ll be easier for customers to find your products, although this will depend on what you’re selling, how many competitors you have, and other factors.
However, there are cons to consider too, such as your profits going to the marketplace, tons of competition from other sellers, and limitations with advertising.
Advertise Your Pet Supplies Store
Speaking of advertising, this is the next step to help your business continue to grow. Paid advertising and promotions are great ways to raise product awareness, and a popular selection is ‘pay-per-click’ advertising. This means you only pay if someone clicks on your ad.
There’s also a range of unpaid (‘organic’) marketing and advertising with promotional tools you can utilize without having to make investments. It’s often best to start with the lowest-cost options for your business, and work your way up!
Create a Solid Customer Support Strategy
Customer support is vital in building customer loyalty and trust. Remember people are very protective over their pets, so they want to be able to rely on you and your products. We’d advise making sure your business can offer proactive customer support via various methods; including phone line support, live chat, and email.
Social media is also a valuable asset as a customer service channel, where customers can report problems or ask questions, which immediately notifies your service team.
Build an Email List
Last, but certainly not least, an effective way of marketing pet businesses is by building an email list. Whether you’re offering products or services, email is a great way to speak to your customers – no social media required. With well-timed and clear messaging, you can convert the would-be customer into an advocate.
There we have it, the key considerations when selling pet supplies online and channelling your love for animals into a business venture! With our help, and a little time and commitment of your own, you’ll be well on your way to starting a successful online pet store.
Here’s a quick look at those key steps on how to sell pet supplies online:
- Figure out which products to sell online
- Find out about any regulations
- Choose a name for your online pet supplies store
- Register your business name and apply for licenses
- Find suppliers for your products
- Figure out your shipping options and return policy
- Create your online store
- Choose the right design for your store
- Decide whether to sell your pet supplies on marketplaces
- Advertise your pet supplies store
- Create a solid customer support strategy
- Build an email list
Leave us a comment to let us know how you get on with building your own pet supplies store!