It’s more than just love and companionship we seek in pets, it’s also stability. A familiar face to greet us when we get home or wake up; a constant to anchor us throughout other turmoils. That consistency extends to pet owners’ shopping behavior as well, making ecommerce pet products a stable market in any circumstance — even the turbulent 2020.
While most other industries have seen unpredictable upheavals this year, the pet market has remained reliably reliable. The U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2020-2021 said directly that “the pet industry stands out as famously recession-resistant.” How? They attribute more time spent at home with pets incentivizing more “gifts,” as well as the heightened priority of online shopping over public stores.
But what, exactly, are pet owners buying for their pets? Pet product trends change frequently, and 2020 has its own unique “best-sellers” and popular searches. For online retailers who need to tap into that stability, we poured through market reports and SEO data to compile this list of the 9 best pet products to sell online in 2020.
1. Dental Care Toys, Treats, and Toiletries
Maybe all this extra time at home is giving extra attention to our pets’ breath, explaining the rise in searches for pet dental care: teeth-cleaning toys and treats, not to mention dog toothbrushes.
One of the advantages of pet toys and treats for dental health is that they improve upon the standard toys and treats. They do everything normal toys and treats do, and more, making them more attractive to shoppers than “normal” toys and treats. They’re perfect for upsells or even replacing poor-performing pet toys and treats.
2. Novelty Pet Beds
Pet beds have been trending for a couple of years now, so much so that they birthed a submarket in novelty pet beds. Going beyond just a “floor pillow,” modern novelty pet beds have fun shapes and themes with anything from pop culture references to extra cuteness. More good news for online retailers is that these bigger beds come with bigger price tags as well.
More than any other item on this list, pet beds cater best to niche markets. Health-conscious pet owners can buy orthopedic pet beds, stylish pet owners can buy modern-style pet beds, sci-fi pet owners can buy Star Wars pet beds. The better you understand your target shoppers, the more you can cater to them.
3. Multifunction Biting Toy
Pet toys generally have a steady demand, but one of the newest types of pet toys is gaining popularity quickly at the moment. Referred to as “multifunction biting toys,” these dog toys combine different types of biting toys into one. While they look simple enough to humans, for dogs they promise a variety of entertainment options.
Multifunction biting toys are easy to market: you can promote them as multiple toys for the price of one, or you can highlight how dogs love them more than traditional toys. While the name is not yet well known and somewhat disputed (it’s commonly referred to as “molar bite toy”), you can use other popular keywords like “interactive pet toys” or “self-playing dog toy.”
4. Hamster Cage
Interestingly, search results show an increased interest in hamsters lately. And while we don’t recommend sending live animals through the mail, hamster cages fit perfectly in recommended ecommerce products.
Like pet beds, hamster cages can come in different styles to cater to niches. However, before you invest heavily in obscure hamster cage accessories, test the waters with more general and mainstream products with low risk.
5. Cat Litter Mats
It’s not surprising that cat litter mats are becoming so popular in recent months — what’s surprising is that they haven’t been this popular until now! It’s such a no-brainer concept; cat owners hate the run-off mess outside of litter boxes, so why not employ the same solution as we do for our shoes before entering the house.
Cat litter mats can be personalized to fit certain niches, both in terms of style (cute shapes, fun colors) and practicality (leak prevention, better litter trapping).
6. Personalized Collars
Pet collars are popular. Personalized products are popular. Pet owners feel a personal connection to their pets. See where we’re going with this?
Pet collars, in particular dog collars, are a “stable staple” in pet products, but you can go the extra mile by personalizing the collars yourself. Giving the nature of collars, which are supposed to display the pet’s name and owner contact details, chances are the owners will go elsewhere to get at least part of the collar personalized — why not offer that service yourself and spare customers the extra trip?
7. Dog Harness
More dog owners are opting for harnesses when taking their dogs for walks. Harnesses provide an equal distribution of force, making it more comfortable for the dog and easier to manage for the owner.
The beauty of dog harnesses is that almost every dog will need one — at least one. Just as babies quickly grow out of their clothes, dogs often require multiple harnesses as they grow from puppy to adults.
8. Car Seat Protectors
A long-time Amazon bestseller, dog car seat protectors are becoming a must-have item for owners who take their dogs for frequent car rides. These seat covers are nothing more than protective fabrics with attachments in all the right places for easy installation and removal in cars. For people sick of having dog hair all over their back seat, no price is too high.
One of the best parts about car seat protectors is that they belong to not one but two of 2020’s most lucrative ecommerce niches: pet products and car accessories. To see a review of the top brands, read this review from Dogs Recommend.
9. Pet Food
Citing data from a recent Nielsen report, Petfood Industry wrote that 2020 pet food sales are “soaring.” In March 2020, dog food sales grew between 37.5% and 54.7% and cat food sales grew between 38.7% and 52.8%, compared to March 2019.
More good news: pet food comes in almost as many varieties as human food. That means you can cater offerings to your target customers. Are you a naturalistic or environmental brand? You can offer organic pet food. Are you a fitness or health-centric brand? Offer special diet pet food.
And because pet food is consumable and needs to be bought periodically, it makes a perfect addition to subscription boxes or services.
Pet products have always been kind to ecommerce, and lately, the ties are only getting stronger. Both general and niche retailers see profits from pet products, especially when selling popular and trending items like the ones on our list above. If you’d like to get a piece of these profits, check out our guide on how to start an online pet store of your own. The success of pet products also means more choices for selling, including plenty of dropshipping and private-label options. It’s worth looking into which methods may work within your existing business model.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published November 2018 and was updated in June 2020 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.