Helping Pet Supplies Brands Grow through fulfilment

In this Pet Retail guide, you’ll discover valuable industry data and expert advice on how to achieve success and thrive through efficient fulfilment strategies.

  • $246bn in 2023
    The size of the global pet care industry
  • $368.8bn in 2030
    Projected growth (1)

The size of the global pet care industry was $246.66bn in 2023 and it is projected to grow to $368.8bn billion in 2030(1), making it one of the world’s fastest-growing market segments. Since the pandemic, people have increasingly turned to their pets to help them through hard times. Pet ownership in the UK rose by 21% between 2020 and 2022(2), and the number of people who regard their pets as “one of the family” stands at a whopping 95%(3). A post-Covid(4) survey found that 86% of people felt they had bonded more with their animals since being in lockdown.

Today’s consumers are willing to leave no expense spared to ensure that their pets stay in top condition. It’s creating a thriving ecosystem for pet-related brands, ranging from those specialising in pet food right through to grooming, hygiene, or training products.

However, make no mistake – the pet industry is a particularly challenging market for brands to flourish. Pet owners, governed by the powerful emotional ties they share with their pets, want the best for them. That means that achieving cut-through in this jostling category quite simply requires eCommerce brands to be the best – through product innovation, exceptional customer service, relevant and engaging marketing, and, of course, responsiveness to changing consumer/pet habits. Here are a few of the latest trends we’ve observed at Huboo.

1 According to Fortune Business Insights

2 From Statista data

3 Findings from the Human Animal Bond Research Institute

4 Research from pet charity the Waltham Foundation

Get to know your customers (and their pets)

Personalisation is becoming an essential way for eCommerce brands to build relevance and differentiation with customers. In the case of pets, it makes perfect sense – every customer is unique, and so is every pet, hence owners are keen to receive bespoke services tailored to their pets’ specific needs.

Brands that invest more time in understanding their customers’ pets have an opportunity to establish meaningful long-term relationships that will directly improve their bottom line. Some companies are doing this by introducing short questionnaires at the start of the customer journey, enabling them to pull together customised communications and product recommendations for each customer/pet going forward. It also means brands will have more information at their disposal – for example, including the ability to add pets’ names on delivery notes or send out birthday emails with discounts or rewards.

This point around ongoing engagement is particularly pertinent for the pet category, given that many items – such as treatments, food, and supplements – are repeat products with a monthly or quarterly cycle. It’s handy for brands to devise clear strategies between purchase cycles to keep customers engaged, for example, through follow-up emails that contain tips on how customers can make the most of their new purchase and better care for their pets.

But as you try to keep up with ever-mounting product lines and cater to more personalised buying patterns, it inevitably results in more SKUs to manage and keep track of. This, in turn, increases the potential for confusion and delays to creep into the picking and packing process, and of course, the possibility of frustrating customers if problems occur once the order has been placed. Capable warehouse management systems are essential if these issues are to be avoided. It’s not about piling up products in huge warehouses, but about using smaller, self-contained hubs to easily store and manage multiple SKUs, all belonging to one brand, all in one accessible space.

Sustainability gives pause for thought

Despite growing strains on consumer budgets, a staggering 92% of pet owners (5) want the brands and products they purchase to be environmentally sustainable and ethically made, leading pet companies to reshape their business operations and product lines to ensure that their credentials stack up.

For example, brands are moving towards plastic-free packaging to increase their appeal to eco-minded consumers, and incorporating natural, cruelty-free ingredients into their product lines. And sustainability doesn’t stop at the product. We’re also seeing brands proactively seek out greener fulfilment services so they know that their door-to-door delivery is as carbon efficient as possible, by using hybrid and electric vehicles and route optimisation software. Other factors to bear in mind include storing products in zero-waste warehouses and taking a paperless approach to picking.

It’s important to note that the cruelty-free ethos extends to people working in fulfilment too. Many warehouse roles are incredibly physically demanding, repetitive and involve employees walking long distances to locate products, all while being timed and monitored, which can lead to intense stress and strain. This is why brands need to choose fulfilment partners that treat their people well, take health and safety seriously, operate flexible hours, and encourage regular breaks.

[5] According to Nielsen data

Our flexible fulfilment solution helps Pet Supplies brands all year long and also during seasonal spikes

Achieving fulfilment success: Eight simple rules for pet brands

If you’re a pet brand selling products via multiple channels such as online shops and marketplaces, you’ll soon discover that as your sales increase, the storage, packaging, and shipping of your items can quickly feel overwhelming. So, what’s the solution? Here are eight simple rules to help you achieve fulfilment success for your brand.

Keep your fulfilment journey simple

Simplicity is key to a fruitful fulfilment journey, even if your brand sells via numerous channels. When a customer places an online order, whether via your website, a marketplace, or a social media platform, it should automatically feed through to your warehouse team. The chosen items should then be carefully picked, scanned, and dispatched on the same day to ensure prompt delivery and a first-rate customer experience. A reliable system will also update your inventory levels so you’ll never sell a product that’s not available while alerting you when stocks are running low.

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Consider outsourcing some or all of your fulfilment operation

The logistics journey for your offering is likely to be complex and hard to keep track of without the right support, particularly if you’re selling multiple variations of a particular item – such as pet food or toys. Outsourcing this time-consuming process to a trusted fulfilment partner will enable you to save money and focus on other key aspects of your brand, safe in the knowledge that your customers are privy to a timely, seamless, and satisfying service.

And don’t simply accept a one-size-fits-all approach to fulfilment. Your fulfilment partner needs to understand your specific requirements and create a bespoke plan that will best serve your business and its plans for growth into new territories and marketplaces and subsequent increasing order volumes going forward.

For example, at Huboo our Continuous Improvement Team analyses all client processes to optimise the service we provide, working in tandem with operations, finance, supply chains, and future projections departments to identify untapped opportunities and make improvements. This enables the team to fully collaborate with you throughout your Huboo partnership to guarantee scalable growth while maximising efficiency.

 

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Make sure your fulfilment is flexible

A frictionless fulfilment process affords brands the time to be more agile as new pet trends – and subsequent commercial opportunities – emerge. You need to be able to react quickly to meet sudden spikes in customer demand and, while this will inevitably pose challenges to inventory planning, this can be overcome if you’re using software that offers real-time insight into omnichannel sales and warehouse inventory levels. Assessing current sales data alongside historic data makes it easier to spot patterns and ensure that you aren’t left with expired or leftover products once a spike has passed.

This is equally important to bear in mind when preparing for peak-season eCommerce events, such as National Pet Month. A fulfilment provider needs to have the tools and account managers in place to meticulously forecast orders so that warehouse teams can flex in size to serve different needs across various marketplaces while making sure there is unlimited scalability to order volumes with zero breakages or customer complaints.

On the flip side, your fulfilment also needs to be flexible enough to adapt when things don’t go to plan. Whether it’s industrial action, an economic downturn, supply chain issues, or a product recall, you need to work with your fulfilment provider to ensure that there are clear contingency measures, with your provider able to act as an extension of your brand and communicate what’s happening to your customers.

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Take storage seriously

Your warehouse should incorporate a dedicated area for your pet products so that they leave in the same condition they arrived. Not every warehouse will be up to spec. You need to make sure you have clean, temperature-regulated ambient spaces and, of course, that any pet food products or supplements are kept out of direct sunlight and, preferably, in a cool, dry place.

In addition to this, your fulfilment provider needs to demonstrate that it has batch control, stock checking, and quality assurance measures to ensure products don’t exceed best-before dates. This is particularly important in the case of perishable products or those that contain organic ingredients. One example of best practice is adopting a first-in-first-out method so that older products are picked, packed, and shipped as a priority, minimising the risk of waste and items reaching expiration or best-before dates.

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Ensure your packaging is on point

Unboxing is the first physical interaction that your customers have with your product. So it’s vital that customers experience products and packaging as per your instructions and, crucially, without any damage or breakages. Sustainable packaging using protective insulation materials – such as Flexi-Hex – as well as appropriate sized boxes are all helpful when it comes to achieving this. Some fulfilment providers can even meet more targeted packaging requests so that your products arrive complete with a sample, branded note, or other marketing collateral of your choosing.

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Store your products in the best possible location

Brands need to consider the optimal locations for getting products out to customers effectively. Geographic proximity means faster, more cost-effective, and more environmentally friendly shipping, so try and choose a fulfilment partner that has a proven presence in the locations that matter most to your business – and that can boast easy access to major transport networks, allowing for cohesive and effective distribution further afield.

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Offer optimum delivery outcomes

A good delivery experience encourages customers to order again. But this doesn’t always mean the same or next day. Customers want high levels of service at a reasonable cost and transparency throughout the fulfilment process. In a nutshell, they want to know where the item is, when they can expect it, and a guarantee that it will arrive at the time stated when they made the purchase, all from reliable couriers.

In addition to this, customers are becoming more eco-conscious, so it’s important that you’re fulfilling orders in a way that’s as sustainable as possible. Pet brands can clearly demonstrate their ESG credentials to customers when they have the relevant accreditations in place.

As part of this process, fulfilment providers should have teams dedicated to achieving relevant industry standards. This isn’t merely a box-ticking exercise, it ensures that your products are managed, fulfilled, and delivered – from eco-friendly warehouses – with integrity.

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Set clear KPIs and sales targets

KPIs and sales targets are more than just about numbers and metrics. They help you to understand how a fulfilment provider is performing and the impact of this on your business. Putting KPIs in place with a provider will allow your partner to make continuous adjustments to achieve your strategic goals faster. This is why at Huboo we adhere to a clear service level agreement that has the potential to yield the best possible customer experience.

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Huboo: where it all started

We emerged six years ago on a mission to revolutionise eCommerce by creating a more efficient, simpler and more transparent approach to fulfilment and logistics.

We’ve taken the traditional warehouse format and transformed it into smaller, more scalable service-led hubs, where each area – and every product placement – is optimised by tech. Since then, we have continually refined our hub model, which massively reduces the distance walked by warehouse teams, driving efficiencies and cost savings, and allowing us to put people – and a personalised approach – at the heart of our fulfilment proposition.

Our 700+ strong team has a wealth of pet industry expertise, having partnered with a host of brands – from household names to innovators and category disruptors like Vet-AI – to help them successfully scale their businesses.

Today, we offer a higher quality, dynamic, and competitively priced service offering with a UK and European fulfilment model that has a global reach. This is carefully tailored to Pet Supplies brands of all sizes and categories and is underpinned by a human-centric approach to customer service, end-to-end fulfilment operation technology, and a commitment to continuous improvement in everything we do.

United Kingdom
Netherlands
Spain
Germany

How we do it

People

We’re not like other fulfilment companies. Our empowering company culture means that our staff are passionate about delivering our goal – enabling your pet supplies brand to grow. Within our warehouses, we replicate the processes that occur in traditional fulfilment in more controlled, manageable spaces. Dedicated hub managers understand that your customers will have made a considered purchase from a brand they trust and can successfully communicate your requirements to all departments across the business to ensure you get the wraparound service you deserve.

Technology

Our bespoke, tech-driven operational solutions integrate with all major sales channels, giving your brand access to a host of potentially untapped markets, while allowing you to manage your entire inventory from a single platform. It’s more reliable this way, because we’re in control of every element and stage in the fulfilment process. Our strategic approach to fulfilment is perfect for all types of pet supplies brands, meaning that our solutions can help brands of all sizes, while you can be safe in the knowledge that our certified, zero-waste hubs are underpinned by a world-class Warehouse Management System.

We provide you with real-time order and inventory data and accurate tracking, alongside customised reports that include buying habits, sales metrics and customer insights which help to fuel your business growth. We also have a fully integrated and automated returns management system in place, saving you processing time and providing clear reporting and full visibility on the status of all returns.

Growth

We’re only successful if you are too. Whether we’re supporting new product categories, adding sales channels or helping you break into new markets, we’re here to help our customers grow better and faster. From our technology to our warehouses, to our people, we channel our expert in-house knowledge to help your business expand in the right way, at the right time and in the right places.

How our approach helps emerging pet supplies brands

We ease the complications that fulfilment brings with it, effortlessly integrating with the pet industry’s most popular sales channels and marketplaces. We do this by harnessing cutting-edge technology, in tandem with people who care, to enable a more productive fulfilment network.

We also let you monitor every stage of the fulfilment process, in real-time, from your Client Dashboard. Our intuitive platform gives you the power to track your goods, manage transactions, monitor sales and listings by each channel, carry out quality control inventory, and keep on top of costs. We provide full visibility of where your valuable stock is at every step of its lifecycle.

Equally, we recognise that a one size fits all approach doesn’t suit every pet products business when it comes to couriers. We let you integrate with the right international courier partner for your needs and, in return, you’ll receive Huboo Express rates. We have clear pricing, fair terms and don’t charge for setting you up. Nor are there any charges for integrating with your existing sales channels and systems and the same goes for storage.
In a nutshell, we’ve got everything in place to help you reach more pet owners on a global basis and grow with confidence.

How we extend this approach to larger pet businesses

We transform multi-million-pound turnover pet brands into digital commerce market leaders by deploying customised solutions that are forward-thinking and future-fit. This means that they can adapt to the speed and scale that large businesses demand, in turn driving efficiency and growth, while staying loyal to each brand’s ethos, values and heritage.

We build and manage our own technology because it’s more reliable that way and allows us to remain in total control of your products at all times. Our technology speeds up ongoing operational processes and brings greater clarity to the status of every order. We can also tailor it in a way that maximises exposure to your pet brand, taking full advantage of our extensive partnership network. Our team of 50+ software developers is on hand to support, update, and innovate, harnessing their tech know-how to make sure you stay ahead of the curve. This includes developing and creating tailored integrations that drive efficiency and growth, such as automation and targeted reporting.

As soon as you sign up, we assign you a Key Account Manager whose goal is to look after your brand. They do this by ensuring the smooth running of your dedicated hub while providing great customer service and dealing with any unforeseen or unexpected issues as and when they might arise.

We let you manage your entire inventory from a single dashboard and observe aggregated data across all your eCommerce channels, territories, and customers. Simply put, our insights empower your decision-making, by letting you know which sales channels are delivering, how product lines are performing, and everything else you need to keep growing your business.

We don’t franchise our tech model, meaning that whichever warehouse your customers order their pet products from, the quality will be exceptional and consistent, and you’ll have lower packaging and posting overheads on account of the expert fulfilment methods we incorporate into our supply chain solution.
Our dedicated warehouse team then acts as an extension of your business to help achieve your commercial goals, no matter what they are. In addition to this, we have global solutions and a support team of 3PL experts on hand 24/7.

Searching for a bespoke 3PL solution for your Pet Supplies business?

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How we extend this approach to larger pet businesses

We transform into digital commerce market leaders

We help you adapt to effective growth

We let you manage your inventory from one place

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