A Short Guide To Shopping Online For Your Dog

With so many choices for Fido, what’s a savvy online shopper to do?

Photography ©Pekic | Getty Images

Dog mom and social media influencer Rosalyn Acero spends a lot of time shopping online for her Golden Retriever, Koru Bear, and readily admits to spending about $150 a month on “fun stuff” for her pooch.

Photography ©shorrocks | Getty Images

She is typical of a growing number of pet parents taking advantage of the Internet’s “endless aisles” and enjoys the shopping high when merchandise arrives on the doorstep by the box load. And of course, there’s the added bonus of surf-shopping with your pooch curled up alongside you on the couch.

“I am always looking for fun, new accessories such as collars, leashes and bandannas,” Rosalyn says. “I shop on Etsy when I’m looking for something unique and different, and on sites like Chewy.com and Amazon.com if I am looking for competitive pricing,” she adds.

Some of the stuff Koru Bear shows off to over 28,000 followers on Instagram @Goldenwoofs. Other times, Rosalyn admits she just likes to be prepared for every occasion. She also subscribes to a subscription box service for her spoiled pooch.

“It’s a great way to get really fabulous stuff that is not easily found in stores or online sites,” she explains.

Photography ©cynoclub | Getty Images

Click on these benefits

Typical of pet parents, Rosalyn initially started off shopping online for the convenience factor with regard to heavy items such as large food bags and crates. Then came the really fun stuff.

“It’s more economical to purchase food in bigger bags,” confirms consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. “And, when it comes to being a really savvy shopper, I suggest signing up for autoship programs. Retailers offer a discount for signing up to receive the autoship option because they know they now have you as a regular customer,” she explains.

Autoship is another name for a loyalty program as you earn discounts for repeat deliveries.

Andrea also suggests making use of coupons and discount gift cards to maximize savings.

“Consider GiftCardGranny.com to find discount gift cards,” she says. “This site aggregates deals across all the discount gift card sites in one place to help you find the best deal. You can then find coupons at sites like CouponCause.com or CouponSherpa.com.

“Many pet stores also offer coupons through their e-newsletters, apps, loyalty programs and social media, so sign up wherever feasible. You may even consider creating a separate email account for such e-newsletter subscriptions so your regular email doesn’t get bombarded with promotional content,” Andrea advises.

Avoid scammer sites

Many well-known manufacturers have their own website stores as well as an Amazon storefront. That way, you know you are shopping at a secure site. Often, they display a secure site badge, too.

“But always double-check the spelling of the online retailer,” Andrea cautions. “Some fraudulent sites operate on common misspellings of popular online stores. Also, look for HTTPS (with the S). It keeps your information safe from hackers. Never click on a link from an email you aren’t familiar with offering a deal that’s too good to be true; it usually is,” she adds.

Sizing issues

Often manufacturers have different ideas when it comes to listing sizes advertised as small, medium and large.

Always have your pooch’s measurements handy. Accessory and clothing websites usually have detailed size charts and indicate how to measure to find the correct size pertaining to your dog on their site. This way, you stand a
good chance of ordering the right size the first time around.

Alternatively, take advantage of online chat services or customer phone lines for assistance.  The same goes for ordering larger items such as crates, beds and outdoor doghouses.

Quality matters

Customer reviews can be very helpful because regular shoppers usually say it like it is! If several reviews say a pet bed is “lumpy” or doesn’t have enough padding, the onus is upon you to further investigate by checking the specifications supplied by the manufacturer.

“And find out what the return policy is for products that don’t meet your quality expectation,” Andrea urges. “You may be able to return something even after it was opened.”

Often online retailers will allow products to be returned or exchanged at one of their brick-and-mortar retail locations. While some online pet e-tailers suggest you donate the unwanted product, and they will replace it. Always ask!

Right time to shop

Typically, email blasts alert to special offers and sales. In particular, online stores usually grab your attention — and your dollars — over long weekends when you have free time on your hands. Think Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and, of course, Black Friday or Cyber Monday!

Signs of the E-Commerce Times

According to the Packaged Facts U.S. Pet Market Outlook Survey 2019-2020, the number of households purchasing pet products online nearly quadrupled from 3.5 million in summer 2013 to 13.3 million as of summer 2018.

The survey also shows that 26% of pet product purchasers are buying more pet food online than they used to, 23% are buying more pet treats, 20% are buying more pet medications and 27% are buying more durable pet products.

During 2018, approximately $9.5 billion worth of pet
products were sold online. That figure represents 18% of overall pet product sales and is expected to climb to 23% by 2023.

Thumbnail: ©Pekic | Getty Images

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About the author: Sandy Robins is an award-winning multimedia pet lifestyle expert, author, and spokesperson. She is the 2013 recipient of the Outstanding Journalism and Contribution to the Pet Industry award, presented by the American Pet Products Association, and has authored three books, the latest one being The Original Cat Bible. She is also the co-host of the popular web series Pet Product TV. Sandy lives in southern California with her family and fur kids, cats Fudge and Ziggy, and has been voted “favorite auntie” by every dog on the block. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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