According to a report, the global pet care market has grown from $216 billion in 2020 to $232 billion in 2021. In the US, the pet industry is currently worth $99.0 billion; up from $95.7 billion in 2020.
With the pandemic and constant lockdowns, pet owners turned to eCommerce stores for their pet supplies. eCommerce pet supply stores give pet owners:
- More choices
- Product information
- Pricing comparisons that make the value clear
- Focus on customer relationships and community building
However, not all online stores are seeing the boom and you’re probably in the same dog house.
If you’ve seen a dip in your pet store sales and want to change that, your conversion data is the best place to begin looking for answers.
After working with many online pet stores, we are ready to let the cat out of the bag. Here’s a list of 20 common reasons you might be getting a low conversion rate.
Let’s see how to change the narrative.
1. Your website structure confuses buyers
Most shoppers crave immediacy. So, a confusing website structure could be the cause of low conversions.
A study found that the average human span fell from 12 seconds in the last two decades to about eight seconds today. So, you have less time to make an impactful first impression.
Shoppers want clean, straightforward, and easy-to-navigate websites. Else, it’ll not only kill conversions but they might not come back.
How can you resolve it?
a) Make site navigation intuitive and fast with category pages
Most pet owners shop online for convenience and know exactly what they are looking for. If the products are not correctly categorized, buyers will have to search manually, wasting their time. Organize the products into categories to make it easy to find what they’re looking for.
Category pages curate related products, giving shoppers options. It also allows them to compare products on the fly without leaving the page. Furthermore, tagged category pages can add SEO value to your website as well.
b) Get buyers to product pages faster with drop-down menus
Organizing related products into category pages is not enough. You’ll also need to make it effortless for people to land on those pages in a few clicks.
You can use the drop-down menu to create this experience. It makes it easier for pet owners to shop in any sub-category.
c) Use site search to 3X your pet store’s conversion rate
A Forrester study found that 43% of online shoppers go straight to the search box and are two or three times more likely to convert.
The site search feature helps shoppers in product discovery match product search intent without wasting time browsing through subpages.
We love how Petsmart has set up its site search.
Look how they have prominently positioned their site search. It’s one of the first things pet owners see when they land in the store. Furthermore, it provides an autocomplete search feature that recommends search terms to guide users.
d) Make it easy for pet owners to shop their favorite brand
In 2021, nearly nine in ten surveyed pet owners in the US said they often looked for certain brands when buying pet supplies, such as food or toys. The report also found that U.S. consumers are slightly more likely to be brand loyal on behalf of their pets.
That’s why it's essential to display industry favorites to win those sales. You can streamline this experience by adding a ‘Featured Brands” section on the homepage to make navigation easy.
You could also use a “Best Sellers” section on the homepage to make it effortless for pet owners to shop for the top-moving products.
2. Your checkout takes longer than a minute
A KPMG report found that the number one reason people shop online is to buy at any time of the day.
However, they’re mindful of the amount of time they spend checking out. Data shows that 21% of shoppers abandon their cart if they can’t check out in a minute or less time.
Are your customers frequently abandoning the cart at the checkout stage?
Action these tips to sort it out.
a) Offer express or guest checkout
Even you would get impatient if you had to fill out forms, set passwords, and confirm email IDs. And rightly so, about 23% of shoppers will abandon a cart if they have to create a new user account.
Offering express or guest checkout can be a great option for customers who are shopping with you infrequently or are new visitors.
b) Assure customers with a progress bar
Eliminate unnecessary steps and use a progress bar to assure customers of how close to the end they are. It’ll encourage them to complete the process without assuming they have a long way to go.
3. You’re not offering valuable content
Pet owners are often searching for information on everything about being new pet owners to how to care for their pets, get expert opinions about pet care products, and also read industry trends.
It’s a great way to attract their attention to your eCommerce store.
A study found that 84% of consumers expect brands to create helpful content. So, pet owners don’t only want to buy from you. They also wish to learn from you.
Ignoring content creation could be the reason for your low conversions.
So action these tips to fix this issue.
a) Create content throughout a customer’s journey
Shoppers don’t often make impulse purchases, especially for their pets.
Map out your buyer journey and create a relevant content strategy. Our team put together some ideas for you below:
Consumers in the awareness stage are looking for answers, and creating content that answers all their possible questions helps you gain their attention.
For instance, you can develop content on “dog food” that attracts pet owners searching for the best dog food brands for their pets. Usually, customers in the awareness segment are not ready to buy, but providing them helpful tips makes them trust you as an authority in the field.
And don’t forget shoppers only buy from brands they trust.
Publishing helpful articles for each buyer in the journey lets them view you as an industry expert, building your brand authority.
b) Create authoritative articles to gain backlinks and traffic
Backlinks are one of Google’s most important ranking signals. Acquiring as many of them as possible helps you dominate the organic competition, but sadly, it's not that easy.
However, you could build your backlink profile and referral traffic by publishing original research-backed authoritative studies. It lets external websites link back to you when citing your articles.
These tips could get you started:
- Survey customers and publish the reports
- Interview pet industry experts and publish your findings
- Curate pet industry studies completed by other experts on your site
- Answer questions on Quora and Reddit, and add links to your blog
4. You’re neglecting the conversion boost of cross-device optimization
With more than half of the online shopping traffic coming from mobile devices, ignoring cross-device optimization is skating on thin ice.
In Google’s words:
“The consumer journey has become fragmented micro-moments that span multiple devices and media types. Advertisers across the world and in different industries have seen an uplift in conversions when they include cross-device data.”
Failing to optimize the shopping experience across desktops, tablets, and smartphones and tracking conversions across these devices could be the reason for your poor numbers.
But here’s how to fix this problem to plug the conversion leaks.
a) Optimize for mobile to capture more sales
Today, about 53% of eCommerce sales happen on mobile. Failing to cater to this emerging audience segment is tempting fate. Nearly 40% of shoppers won’t hesitate to switch to a competitor after a bad mobile experience.
So don’t give them reasons to abandon ship. Instead, make the website mobile responsive.
See how Petsmart looks excellent on mobile.
b) Implement cross-device conversion tracking
Your numbers might not be as bad as they seem.
Google found that marketers in the U.S. retail industry report 16% more search ads conversions when including cross-device data. So, Therefore, optimizing the shopping experience across devices is not enough. You also need to track their conversion data to get a clearer picture of your sales efforts.
It provides you insights into areas needing improvement.
5. You’re not leveraging the principle of loss aversion
Most customers already know the product benefits. They often hear that from other marketers or other content. Repeating the same line does nothing but bore them.
Rather than telling them what they stand to gain, let them know what they’re losing. Customers are loss averse. They rather not lose than get equivalent gains.
Failing to leverage this psychological aspect in your sales copies could make your brand stories less compelling, hurting your conversions.
How to solve:
- The web content should hint more at what customers will lose from not using the product than what they will gain.
- Most shoppers are skeptical about trying out new products. So let them know in simple and straightforward sentences that they have nothing to lose by giving it a trial.
- Offer them an easy return policy.
- Provide money-back guarantees to build customer confidence in the product.
- Offer easy cancellation for subscription-based pricing.
6. You're obsessed with vanity metrics
One million monthly visitors are impressive, but it also means nothing if they didn’t convert.
“Gaudy numbers touted as evidence of overwhelming growth only make for mildly interesting headlines and press releases—they rarely have a place within a business or project.” - Tableau
These numbers are misleading, hold little substance, and don’t often help you reach your business goals. Obsessing over them makes you miss the actual story.
Here’s how to fix this.
a) Look beyond clicks and heatmaps
Clicks and heatmaps tell you how shoppers are interacting with your website. Unfortunately, measuring store performance using these numbers, as most people do, will misguide you.
So look beyond them and focus more on on-site conversions.
The metrics come in handy during conversion rate optimization. They help you identify conversion frictions, streamline shopping experiences and improve store conversion.
b) Dive deep into funnel analytics
An ideal shopper will land on the homepage, navigate the product page from the categories, add products to the cart, and exit from the order confirmation page.
You probably have a clear idea about the page paths your buyers take during conversion.
Diving deep into your funnel analytics lets you understand where frictions occur. It also provides actionable insights into your customers' preferred buying journey, enabling you to smoothen their conversion paths.
Pro tip: Set up GA funnel tracking to understand what is killing your conversions.
7. Your store lacks personalization
No two customers are the same. So being the same thing to all your customers in an era where 71% of consumers crave personalized experience doesn’t make sense.
Companies that don’t prioritize creating a tailored experience run the risk of getting left behind. - Forbes
For instance, 72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized messaging, and 63% say they will stop buying from brands that use poor personalization tactics.
So, your store personalization strategies could be the reason for low conversion rate, but here’s how to knock it out of the park.
How to solve:
- Offer product recommendations to match shoppers’ expectations—nine in ten consumers say they’ll shop with brands that offer relevant suggestions.
- Re-engage first-time shoppers with personalized email on getting the most from their purchases and follow up at a later date with discounted upsell.
- Recommend to your active customers, bestsellers, or complementary products (cross-sells) to drive repeat businesses based on their shopping history.
- Use behavioral triggers for in-session retargeting—offer pop-up deals to shoppers based on their product browsing behavior and make it less intrusive.
8. You ignore the reciprocity principle—you don’t give before taking
Shoppers will always have options on where to get their supplies. For instance, pet owners can easily hop on to search engines to find pet stores near them.
This power yields consumers the freedom to self-direct their conversion paths. But customers have their weaknesses.
They love gifts; they want to maximize their options.
So, giving before taking makes customers feel indebted to you. Savvy brands leverage this principle to boost their conversion numbers, and you could be tempting fate not following suit.
First, offer shoppers free actionable pet care tips.
A typical shopper wants to feel appreciated. So, always make it straightforward for visitors to know that you reward customers’ loyalty.
Petsmart offers free shipping on orders above $49, and the store also awards points each time their customers shop online.
Also, incentivize purchases with discounts, and make it clear on your website. Close to one-third of online shoppers will complete purchases they didn't initially wish to if it has a heavy discount.
Petco.com offers a 25% discount on orders above $50 when shoppers buy online and pickup in-store or curbside.
The store also provides free cat toys and up to 40% discount on repeat delivery orders.
9. Your site doesn’t win visitors’ trust fast enough
If buyers don’t see you as trustworthy, that’s the end of the road. You can’t win the sales regardless of how compelling your offers are.
An average consumer has trust issues. So they only deal with brands that have a track record of delighting customers and meeting their expectations.
But how do you win their trust effortlessly?
How to solve:
- Shoppers love doing business with stores with physical addresses. So, always include your contact information on the homepage.
- Add a blog to your store and publish free informational and non-salesy content to build authority and position your brand as an industry expert.
- Integrate user-generated content like social campaigns, customers reviews, ratings, and testimonials on the homepage to encourage peer-based purchasing decisions.
- A typical human trusts authority figures. So, explore using referral programs to piggyback on people’s goodwill.
- Consider donating to charity to show you’re personable and socially responsible. Petsmart donates $1 for every $5 shoppers spend on selected products.
10. You may be out-of-stock too often
Nothing could be more disappointing than shoppers visiting your store only to find out their favorite products are out of stock. Most customers might not put too much thought into it the first time, but repeated occurrences might be difficult for them to forgive.
Customers are not that patient. Nobody wants to shop where they won’t get their needs.
Negative customer experience deters return visits. About one-third of consumers reported they would consider switching brands after one bad experience, and a typical American will tell 15 people of their poor experience.
Here’s how to ensure you don’t run out of stock too often.
- Track your stock levels regularly to know when to restock
- Use inventory management software to streamline your processes
- Consider dropping shipping to eliminate the need to hold inventory
- Reconcile lost, damaged, or stolen items to gain a true picture of your stock level
- Let customers opt-in for email notifications.
11. Your visitors feel your offers are intrusive
Permission-based marketing is the real deal. Trying to sell to customers that are not ready for sales conversations turns them off.
The truth is no marketer achieves sustainable success by invading buyers’ privacy or forcing a deal down their throats. Hootsuite found that nearly half of global internet users use ad blockers, indicating consumers’ skepticism for invasive and intrusive marketing content.
Modern brands must now figure out how to advertise to consumers who simply don’t want to see hard-sell ads anymore. - Forbes
And here’s how to safely navigate this quagmire.
a) Grab attention with featured banners
Attention-grabbing featured banners provide a natural feel when buyers browse the website, making them non-intrusive.
So use them on the homepage and above the fold to promote your offers to maximize your customers’ attention span. Include an actionable CTA, a clear headline, benefit-focused copy, and compelling image to self-direct customers’ conversion journey.
Here’s an example from Petsense.
Using suitable banner sizes makes them feel natural on your website.
b) Use pop-ups intelligently
Pop-ups can obstruct customer experience if they are intrusive.
So, use behavioral triggers and delays (wait time) to ensure customers only see them when they are most likely to act on them. It also gives them a chance to know your business first.
Here’s another class act from Petsense. The Pop-up triggers after scrolling more than 70% of the websites.
The pet store offers a 10% discount to encourage website visitors to join their email list.
c) Make your offers relevant
Making your products relevant makes them less pushy. So, action these tips to create compelling product offerings:
- Segment your audience and provide them with personalized shopping experiences.
- Use benefit-focused copies to align your offerings to customers’ pain points.
- Give buyers options with product bundles and cheaper product alternatives.
12. You’re not managing site-induced channel conflict well enough
Most eCommerce brands scale their revenue through omnichannel expansion.
However, selling on other channels like retail outlets and online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Target could lead to conflict. The channel conflict occurs when existing channels compete against each other for available customers.
For instance, opening a retail outlet could disrupt sales on the eCommerce store. Selling on Amazon might cause the DTC channels to lose sales.
Also, operating wholesale pet supplies outlets could encourage third-party retailers to buy at lower prices to resell on online marketplaces or other channels, cannibalizing your retail sales.
These conflicts can hurt your store conversions if not properly managed.
About 59% of eCommerce managers said their annual revenue would have increased by between 11% to 20% if not for channel conflict, and 40% admitted that managing conflict is their number one business concern.
But how do you ensure harmony among your distribution channels?
Let’s find out:
- Avoid sales cannibalization by selling at uniform prices across all channels
- Segment your audience and serve them via specific channels to avoid unnecessary competition.
- Eliminating channels that undermine your eCommerce store performance, or
- Learn from Nike by launching into marketplaces unauthorized third-party retailers are cannibalizing your revenue to recover lost sales.
13. You’re not promoting your holiday or seasonal shopping offers
Consumers are rational—they often wait till the holiday season to get their pet supplies.
Of course, the seasons come with incredible time-sensitive deals and discounts, making them a huge draw for most people. So failing to promote seasonal offers could cut you from the year’s busiest shopping activities. The
Despite the pandemic, the U.S. retail sales during the holidays totaled $789.4 billion in 2020, rising by 8.3% from the previous—the biggest year-over-year growth rate since 2017. And it also accounted for nearly 20% of total annual retail income.
So, the numbers are on your side. You could leverage this period to boost your conversions by using feature banners on the homepage to drive sales during holidays.
14. Your products’ value propositions aren’t clear
The Pet supplies niche is highly competitive.
In the U.S., there are over 60 million pet owners, which gives the eCommerce stores a large market to seek business from, by offering them incentives to win sales.
But Since the space is so big, you need to stand out from the crowd with a clear, distinctive, and compelling value proposition. Customers want to know why they should buy from you, what makes your product unique, and the needs they solve.
Offering them a clear value proposition could make you one of their favorites, and here’s how to begin.
How to solve:
- Use benefit-focused copies to make your offering compelling.
- Don’t just focus on the benefits; most shoppers already know them. Instead, tell them what they stand to lose by not using you.
- Focus on your most compelling benefits. Don’t overwhelm buyers with too many features. Doubt creeps in when your proposition sounds too good to be true.
- Don’t be the same thing to everyone. Segment your audience and align your propositions to their expectations.
- Use clear and short sentences to communicate your value proposition. Make your website straightforward and clutter-free. Eliminate distractions to focus on your brand messaging.
15. Your website doesn’t trigger FOMO
Most customers don’t just buy; they often need to be nudged.
The good thing is typical buyers hate missing out on good deals. So the fear of missing out drives them to make reactive purchases. A study found that 60% of millennial consumers will make reactive purchases after experiencing FOMO within 24 hours.
So you could be losing sales from unprepared customers if your website doesn't trigger shoppers’ FOMO. You could use FOMO to your advantage by offering time-sensitive, heavily discounted deals to create urgency and artificial scarcity.
You could also run periodic flash sales and promote them widely to excite your customers. Use countdown timers in your time-limited offers to trigger FOMO.
A split test by De Nieuwe Zaak found that a timer could increase conversion by 8.6%!
16. Your offers don’t honor instant gratification
Many customers cancel orders because the products don’t ship the same or within three days. They rather shop in-store and walk away with their orders than pay less to wait for ages to get the deliveries.
Most shoppers want instant gratification. We’re not that impossible. We just hate waiting to get what we paid for—we crave immediacy; we want it now!
“Your brand is not the most important thing in your customers’ life—convenience is.” Salesforce
Failing to key into this trend could be devastating for your business, and here’s how your store can honor instant gratification.
How to solve:
- Offer fast and express shipping
- Provide mobile apps for more convenient shopping
- Make your website fast loading and mobile-first
- Enable self-help with FAQs
- Provide live chat for real-time communications
- Have a responsive customers service
17. You’ve not set up effective shopper cart recovery on your site
Nearly 70% of shoppers abandon carts, meaning only three in ten visitors will buy from you. It’s disappointing but could even get worse if you fail to set up effective cart recovery strategies.
The Baymard Institute found that the three main reasons for cart abandonment are”
- high extra cost (shipping cost, fees, or taxes),
- new user account sign up before checking out, and
- slow delivery.
However, several of your customers will not check out, regardless of what you do.
About 58.6% of U.S. online shoppers have abandoned a cart in the last three months because they were window shopping, comparing prices, or saving items in their wish list.
But how do you recover lost sales from ready-to-buy shoppers?
How to solve:
- Give shoppers the option to pay on delivery.
- Use exit pop-up with discount code to re-engage cart abandoners.
- Provide free shipping. If it’s untenable, explore adding the shipping cost to the product price and split-test to selected audiences.
- Make checking out more explicit and straightforward. Eliminate distractions from the checkout page
- Offer a seamless return policy and communicate it clearly on the checkout page in a few words.
- Support different payment options
- Add customer ratings and reviews to boost customers' trust and confidence.
- Embed security symbols to assure shoppers of their online safety
- Add a process indicator during checkout to show shoppers how close to the end they are.
18. You’re not pricing right
Price is a big deal in retail eCommerce, if not the most important buying factor. As a result, shoppers often compare prices before deciding where to buy.
A study found that 63% rely on Google to check prices, 24% use price comparison websites or apps, and 4% ask family and friends.
Since customers are loss-averse, they are often drawn to sellers with better deals. The same study found that 79% will abandon a brand or store for a third-party seller offering a lesser price.
In a different study, 87% of surveyed buyers said knowing they got a good deal helps them decide which brand or retailers to buy from.
So, if you wish to win the sales, you’ll need to win the price war.
How to solve:
- Price competitively, but don’t sell your product short—ensure your costs are within the industry average.
- Use subscription-based pricing to encourage return purchases and customer lifetime value.
- Explore points system to retain customers and reward loyal shoppers
- Improve customers’ average order value (AOV) with product bundling.
19. You’re not upselling intelligently
You’ve probably heard that it's five times easier selling to existing customers than attracting new ones. So focusing on acquiring new customers instead of driving repeat businesses from your most active shoppers will only cause you more pains and tears.
A study found that businesses that upsell and offer recurring products generate between 70% and 95% of their revenue from them, with only a meager five to 30% coming from initial sales.
Upsells also increase revenue by ten to 30% on average, so you’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table if your store doesn't upsell the right way.
However, you could use a “Frequently Bought Together” section to cross-sell shoppers during checkouts to increase their average order value (AOV).
Petco does this so well.
The store also used “You May Also Like,” “Customers Also Viewed,” and “Best Sellers” sections to cross-sell and upsell shoppers or recommend their products.
20. You’re underestimating videos
You might not believe this, but explainer videos are that powerful.
A study found that 56% of consumers expect brands to have at least one video on their websites. Shoppers are also 64% more likely to buy after watching a video online.
Ignoring these stats is shooting yourself on the feet. For example, about 76% of marketers said explainer videos helped them increase sales. And if it works for them, it could work for you too.
Shoppers want to know how your products will solve their pain points without breaking their budgets. So tell them a good story in a few seconds, and you’ll be all good.
Petland has three videos on their homepage, and they are doing great engaging first-time visitors.
The other side benefit of embedding videos on your homepage is that they encourage visitors to spend over twice as long as they would have if it doesn’t have a video. Videos can also improve your Google organic ranking.
I am sure you want these, so you’ve nothing to lose by adding the videos.
Boost Your Pet Supplies Store Conversions
Action the tips here to improve your conversion numbers, of course, starting with the basic strategies to the most complex ones.
Ensure to A/B your changes to eliminate the guesswork and offer shopping experiences your customers will love. You can also dive into your top competitors' websites to learn what they are doing and improve on them if possible.