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Adding e-commerce to your brick-and-mortar pet supply shop? Here’s how to drive traffic

May 04, 2020

Getting through the COVID-19 pandemic creates obstacles for many small businesses. The big one for independent pet suppliers is the fact that foot traffic is down. It’s true that the feeding of pets still falls under the category of essential business in many states and locales. While customers turn to online ordering for their pet food and other supplies to keep their distance, that hurts your bottom line.

In response, independent pet retailers have quickly adapted to contact-free shopping, with convenient options like online ordering and curbside delivery. Some refer to this hybrid of brick-and-mortar commerce with online shopping as click-and-collect.

Why offer e-commerce?

If setting up a click-and-collect solution sounds counterintuitive and too much work, hear us out. First, let’s walk through what people love about buying online. Pre-COVID-19, it’s all about shopping and choosing products in the comfort of their homes, and quickly finding what they’re looking for. With social distancing, online offers a safe and convenient alternative to shop.

What’s the downside? Waiting for delivery. When a brick-and-mortar store offers both, customers get the best of both worlds (and you get the sale). That’s because when customers click purchase, they can drive right to your store and collect their items. That’s the beauty of click and collect.

What does it take to set up an e-commerce solution? NutriSource Pet Foods recognized early in the pandemic that e-commerce was going to play a significant role in consumer behavior, so we have a special offer to help you. With eTailPet, you can get e-commerce up and running quickly. Sign up, and NutriSource will pay for your second month of service. As you start the process, provide the promo code “NutriSource – Support Local.”

Nonetheless, click and collect isn’t a silver bullet to a retailer’s cash flow worries. Retailers have noticed once they implemented this feature, it can also be a struggle to make up for the lack of impulse purchases now that foot traffic is down due to COVID-19. When pet parents are missing out on your displays of dog jackets, colorful collars and cat toys, they spend less money.

Now that you’ve established a click-and-collect solution for your brand, you’ll want to drive traffic to encourage people to shop and ensure its success. Review this checklist and see if you discover something you need to add to your strategy.

Reward your email subscribers

Is email still relevant? Very much so. Some 91% of people check their email account at least once a day. As people shelter in place, online activity has only increased, which can only mean more frequent check-ins with email. Stay in touch with your customers during the pandemic by continuing to deliver email content.

As for people reading it, the odds are in your favor right off the bat, because people are far more likely to open emails that pertain to their hobbies and passions.

So once you have e-commerce up and running, reward customers for reading and encourage them to buy with an exclusive discount or coupon. Even better, pair the deal with the purchase of a high-margin item. If social distancing has kept some of your customers away, a good deal paired with a contact-free option might inspire their return.

[Click for more tips on building your pet-themed newsletter and your audience.]

Add a referral program

Hands down, word-of-mouth has always reigned supreme when it comes to promoting a brand. So you’ll want to enlist your customers in making your e-commerce option known far and wide. Once e-commerce goes live, make it easy for your brand loyalists to make your launch known to fellow animal lovers. Incentives to share, such as a voucher for a percentage off, will motivate them to share email addresses or tag friends on social media.

Showcase customers reviews

To a customer, online reviews serve as a shopping guide because they answer those fundamental questions hanging in the air before they hit buy: Will this work? Is it worth the money? Will I be happy with this purchase? With online reviews, there’s an element of trust because they’re hearing from customers like themselves.

When it comes to your top-rated products, putting out those top reviews can help you close additional sales. According to statistics cited by Inc., 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation. Once the click-and-collect transaction is complete, follow up with happy customers, and ask them to take a minute and post a quick review on your website.

If you’re looking for fun and useful social content to drive engagement with pet parents, NutriSource Pet Foods has you covered. Visit, set up your free account, and we’ll deliver great, ready-to-publish pet content to your inbox.