Amazon catching up to Chewy in pet supply market

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Amazon is gaining a foothold against Chewy in the pet supply market. (Pixabay)

Although not jumping into the pet supply game until recently, Amazon is already rivaling online giant Chewy.com. Amazon is close to Chewy in unbranded searches on Google and Amazon, like Chewy, launched a private label of pet products earlier this year.

As Chewy fights to dominate the category, the marketplace has prioritized spending on Google and has been able to dominate text and shopping ad visibility. 

According to the latest report from GartnerL2, Amazon now gets 38% of all organic hits on pet care, just 1% less than Chewy. And in some categories, such as high-volume products and natural and grain-free, Amazon has surpassed Chewy in organic searches. The only space where Chewy is not currently being threatened by Amazon is the dietary space. 

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Almost half of Amazon's organic searches result in shoppable product pages. And 71% of Chewy's organic results drive customers to category pages, which then enables comparison shopping. Therefore, Chewy is behind Amazon on leading customers down the easier path to purchase. 

On the flip side, Chewy beats Amazon on text and shopping ads, appearing in 69% and 76% of unbranded search results. 

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In early May, Amazon officially launched Wag, with an initial focus on dry dog food. While the company mostly supports the brand through headline search ads, the private label brand is not yet significant on organic visibility. And Chewy's private label, American Journey, shows up on the company's homepage and curated lists, highlighting deals and discounts that stand out. Brands looking to get ahead on Chewy should be looking to American Journey for merchandising ideas. 

Nicolas Bureau, senior associate at L2, said the battle for the online pet category is fought first and foremost on Google. And although Chewy currently dominates search visibility texts ads and shopping ads, Petco, Petsmart and Amazon stand out organically.

"Many retailers lack features or content that help brands with informing consumers about their products," Bureau told FierceRetail. "Chewy excels in that aspect by providing an immersive, conversion-oriented experience with instructions for product use, and its own high-quality promotional videos that highlight products and build brands’ equity."

Therefore, Bureau recommends that retailers willing to get noticed online must invest in SEO and SEM to attract online shoppers, build merchandising features on their sites to help brands engage with pet owners, and convert site visits into sales.

The pet care industry is seeing tremendous growth and will continue to grow as pet ownership is increasing in mature markets. 

"An increasing share of these sales are occurring online, where consumers are investing in product research," Bureau said. "Small brands have capitalized on health and wellness trends to capture online sales, and large CPG firms have started noticing. The entrance of big players—such as General Mills that acquired pet food brand Blue Buffalo for $8 billion earlier this year—suggests that the pet care industry will continue to flourish in the foreseeable future."