How to Start an Online Pet Supplies Business

Online Pet Supplies Business

There’s never been a better time to start a pet supplies business. With millennials and younger generations willing to spend more than ever on their pets, there’s an unprecedented boom in the pet supply business. Tapping into this niche could prove to be profitable!

Pet products have a much greater scope than just pet food. Pet businesses that diversify by offering different products have great potential in societies where our pets are more appreciated than ever.

Why Join the Pet Industry?

There’s likely never been a more compelling time to be a part of the pet industry. According to 2022 figures published by FEDIAF (European Pet Food Industry Federation):

  • 46% of households in the EU own a pet. This equates to 91 million households.
  • The annual growth rate of the pet food industry is 5.1%.
  • Annual sales of pet food products reached €29.1 billion in 2022.
  • Annual sales of pet services and pet products reached €24.5 billion in 2022.

These figures suggest a boom in the pet supplies industry that could be very profitable for savvy entrepreneurs.

Young People and Pet Ownership

Various social and economic factors have aligned in the last decades to promote pet ownership amongst millennials and the younger generations. According to a 2019 study on dog ownership, dogs provide young people with a sense of everyday routine and stability at a time when they experience instability in many other aspects of their lives. Pets therefore fill a void that young people—for many reasons—are finding more and more difficult to fill.

The same study pinpointed some pain points associated with pet ownership that could open up possibilities for businesses:

  • Long working hours create a need for full-service dog boarding businesses and dog-walking services. Your pet supplies business could consider partnering with businesses that offer these types of services.
  • Limited disposable income amongst young people could suggest a need for local budget pet-food businesses.

Your pet business idea should take both pets and their owners into account. In the end, pet supply stores need to cater for animals but appeal to their owners.

How to Set Up a Pet Supplies Business Step-by-Step

Though some physical stores can offer dog grooming or double as a dog training or pet sitting business, most online pet stores will focus on pet supplies like cat or dog food because this is a basic need for all pet owners. If your ambition is to sell pet products online, focus on pet lovers and what they may want for their four-legged friends.

1. Learn About the Pet Market and Your Niche

Don’t try to start a pet business without knowing the ins and outs of the business. You may have a head start as an animal lover, but it doesn’t mean you know everything there is to know about the business. Researching different products and brands will require a lot of dedicated time. You also need to think about your brand and what products fit best with your brand’s core value proposition.

Niche Products or a Bit of Everything?

Perhaps you want to start a business that sells one specific product instead of an all-purpose pet store. This will require extensive technical knowledge when getting started as well as when you face the public. The market research stage of planning your business should be exhaustive. Ask questions like:

  • What types of products are already on the market?
  • What are the differences in terms of price and quality?
  • Who are your competitors? How are you going to offer something different or better?
  • Is there a gap in the market for what you want to sell? Is there a reason other brands aren’t doing what you are thinking of doing?

2. Identify Your Potential Customers

Research the pet market and try to pinpoint an area with demand. Matching up your business to the demand—solving a problem or fulfilling pet owners’ needs in a new way—may put your business in good stead to be financially viable when it starts. Think carefully about what customers want.


  • Surveying pet owners: You can get focused information about pet owners using your own study or data from previous surveys.
  • Checking social media accounts: Find out which social media accounts pet owners follow and what content they’re interested in.
  • Researching their buying habits: How much are customers willing to spend on pet products? How do they prefer to pay? Do customers require alternative payment methods as well as credit or debit card payments?

We’ll speak more about pinpointing your target demographic later. However, at this early stage, it’s of vital importance to do the groundwork so you can decide on the nature of your business.

What Is Your Business’s Scope?

Decide the scope of your pet supply store at this point. Consider questions like:

  • Do you want to focus on dog owners or will your store sell products for all pets?
  • Will you target pet owners or pet professionals like vets?
  • Do you want to focus your efforts on selling within the EU or further afield?

Social media allows e-commerce businesses to reach customers who live all over the world. If you plan to go global, keep yourself informed of industry trends in your targeted areas. The American Pet Products Association is a good source of information for the U.S. market.

Make Solid Financial Decisions When Selecting Your Niche

Setting up a high street or online pet store often involves a significant financial investment. Doing your research before starting won’t always make your pet business profitable, but understanding the viability of your idea is a necessary prerequisite to launching a business.

Payment processing is particularly important for pet store owners, especially if you have ambitions to attract customers from around Europe or even the world. Setting up a merchant services account allows your budding business to accept payments via different payment methods. It also allows you to accept payments in different currencies.

3. Find a Pet Products Supplier

After you decide which products you want to sell, the next step will be finding a reliable supplier. At this point, you’ll have to decide if you want to adopt the dropshipping model or get a wholesale supplier.

If you choose dropshipping, you need to find a supplier or manufacturer who can deliver your products to the customer. This supplier must be equipped to guarantee an uninterrupted supply of products promptly. Many businesses choose this method because it doesn’t require storing inventory.

Wholesale supply involves purchasing products in bulk and storing them in a facility large enough to hold them. You’ll also be responsible for keeping track of inventory, packaging, and shipping. Though you won’t need to pay a third party to take care of your operations, you will have to factor in the logistics of taking care of operations yourself.

Is Making Your Own Pet Products Viable?

Alternatively, you could produce your own pet products. Think pet treats, pet clothing, pet transportation products… The list is endless!

Some pet supply businesses with niche ideas, for example, organic pet treats, focus on manufacturing and selling their own products. This could be a full-time job or even a side hustle. Some businesses are successful in this type of venture; if you believe you have a good product and the ambition to sell it, it’s something you could explore.

Remain Compliant With European Regulations

The manufacture and sale of pet products—especially food—are highly regulated in the EU. The food you sell must comply with European regulations surrounding issues like correct labelling and meeting minimum nutrition standards.

If you import food from outside the EU, or if you manufacture your own product, ensure that your products comply with any regulations; FEDIAF is a good place to start to inform yourself of anything you should take into account.

4. Obtain Relevant Licences and Certifications

Local rules regarding licences or certificates necessary to set up your business will differ from place to place. Check relevant local regulations and start any necessary formalities and paperwork to set up your business.

5. Set Up Payment Processing

Setting up credit card processing for pet supplies and products is another key step that can help your business thrive. Selecting a payment processor that understands your industry, knows the challenges you face, and can support you as your business grows will put you in a good position to become profitable as soon as possible.

Your merchant services account will offer your business many benefits like providing you with an integrated global payment gateway and the capability to track your dealings from a central dashboard. This gives you control over your transactions and sales and provides you with a complete set of data upon which to make business decisions.

6. Set Your Pricing

Your pricing will largely depend on where you’ve decided to pitch yourself in the market. Does your business offer cost-effective pet supplies, or is it a high-end business that focuses on premium products?

Your pricing will depend on the results of the research you did and your target audience. Your pricing needs to reflect the needs of your customers at the same time as making your business profitable. Think about your margins but also be sure not to price your pet supply business out of the market.

7. Attend Industry Events

Consider attending pet industry events or trade shows to network with other business owners and exchange pet business ideas. Attending this type of event gets your pet supply shop’s name out there. You can introduce yourself as a pet store owner to suppliers, distributors, and other key industry players and get your products in the spotlight. Events can also be opportunities to secure business relationships that can help you going forward.

8. Create Your Own Pet Supplies Store Online

The biggest question you’ll face at this stage is whether to set up your own website and sell your products directly from there or use a third-party platform like Amazon as a base to sell your products.

Understanding how to add e-commerce to your website is a good starting point when deciding how to proceed. This is because having your own e-commerce website can be a cost-efficient way to run your online store.

9. Create an Online Presence

You’ll need a focused online strategy—whether you’re selling locally or have bigger ambitions. Creating a marketing strategy and establishing yourself on social media will be a huge step to increasing your reach both locally and further afield.

Start Local

It may be a good idea to start locally because customers may be interested in buying their products from a local brand. Strategies focusing on getting the word out in your area could take the form of:

  • Joining Facebook groups for pet owners in the area
  • Using local media to advertise your business
  • Making good use of Google My Business, especially if you have a high street store

Establishing trust in the industry by showing your expertise is also a great strategy to find and retain customers. Customers want to know they’re buying products for their furry friends from a company that understands pets and their needs. Starting a blog could be a good way to establish your credibility in the industry.

Consistent Use of Social Media

Social media is a must for new businesses. Use your status as a pet business to create entertaining, cute, and informative posts that people will want to follow. Pets are extremely marketable and Instagrammable; use this to your advantage. After all, who doesn’t want to see posts about cute animals?

Use social media consistently to build your brand. Make sure your posts align with your brand values and present your business in the best possible light.

Blogging and SEO

Directing organic traffic to your website is vitally important. A blog could take many forms: focusing on pet care and tips, a “pet of the week” blog or information about different dog breeds could drive people to your website.

The importance of good SEO practices also shouldn’t be underestimated. Hire an SEO expert to boost your website’s rankings in organic search.

10. Launch Your Brand

You’re nearly ready to launch your brand. Once you’ve learned about the industry, chosen your niche and the products you want to sell, and created an e-commerce website, the end of the planning stage is in sight. Announce your launch on social media ahead of time to create excitement about your new business and drive sales from day one.

The Sky’s the Limit for Your Online Pet Supply Shop

Animal lovers are increasingly willing to spend their hard-earned money on their pets, opening up many opportunities for online pet store owners. A solid business plan along with a robust online presence and in-depth knowledge of the industry can put your business on a course for success.

Using various sales channels and partnering with the right payment processor are also important ways to maximise sales. With all these factors in place, plus your vision, drive, and passion, the sky’s the limit for your online pet store.