There’s never been a better time to get started as an entrepreneur. Thanks to the rise of the internet, and the increasing demand for online shopping, virtually anyone with the right idea (and passion) can launch a venture, and make a profit. If you’re wondering which market, you should be pursuing, the pet care landscape could be one of the most appealing options.
Not only do you get to build a business focused on making people and their furry friends happy, but business leaders can earn a serious profit in the pet landscape. In fact, the global pet care market was worth around $280 billion in 2022, and it’s growing every year.
Even in times of economic uncertainty, people never stop spoiling their animal friends. This is particularly true in the US, where the average annual household spending on pets almost doubled between 2013 and 2021. As sources of endless love and compassion, our pets are one of the most important parts of our lives, making pet businesses a potential goldmine.
The question is, how do you launch a successful pet company in 2023?
How to Start a Pet Business: Step by Step
There are various ways to launch a pet business, from offering pet walking services to neighbors, to designing your own doggy day-care. But few options offer more potential for growth than building your own ecommerce website. With a custom website, you can sell pet products to consumers all over the world, without any having to spend a fortune on real-estate and training.
The good news for would-be entrepreneurs, is ecommerce platforms like Shopify can make it easy to get started. With a dedicated pet theme for your Shopify store, you can get your custom business up and running in no time, even if you’re not a professional programmer or coder.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started.
Step 1: Market Research
The first step in building any ecommerce website should always be research. You need a clear understanding of your industry, your audience, and your competitors if you want to ensure you stand out from the crowd. First, think about what kind of products you want to sell. Are you going to be focused on pet care, pet food, accessories, or grooming?
Next, examine the trends in your market of choice. Find out what kind of customers are most likely to be drawn to your items. Building user personas can be helpful here. They should outline the key demographics, behaviors, pain points, and interests of the people most likely to buy your products.
When you’re ready, you can start thinking about how you’re going to position your new business. For instance, do you want to take advantage of the rising demand for luxury pet products with gourmet meals and designer harnesses? Are you going to take a mid-market approach, offering a range of solutions to people with different budgets? Or are you opting for more affordable, convenient items, intended to suit anyone?
Looking at your competitors will be helpful here, as it can help you to pinpoint potential niche opportunities and avenues for revenue that haven’t already been over-saturated by existing brands.
Step 2: Build Your Brand
Here’s where the fun really starts. Running an effective ecommerce website in the pet industry isn’t just about selling the right products. You also need to connect with your customers on an emotional level. After all, studies show customers who feel connected to a business spend twice as much.
Your brand is how you form your emotional connection with your audience, through a shared set of values, a unique personality, and an eye-catching image. Some of the key components you’ll need to think about when building your brand include:
- Your personality: How are you going to connect with your target audience through marketing and messaging? Do you want to position yourself as a pet authority, with expertise and scientific data? Do you want to come across as friendly and compassionate? A clear personality will help your brand to resonate with your customer.
- Your mission: What is your brand story? What do you want to accomplish with your business (beyond making a profit)? Do you want to provide customers with access to unique novelty items that make them smile? Are you trying to make dogs, cats, or hamsters happier and healthier? Set a vision for your brand.
- Your image: How do you want people to see your company? Your visual identity will inspire everything from the pet store Shopify themes you choose, to the colors you use in your brand assets, and even your logo design.
Step 3: Choose a Pet Store Name
Based on your understanding of your market, and your knowledge of your ideal brand, you should be in a great position to choose a memorable name for your store. It’s important to get your name right, as this is how customers will identify and recognize you.
The best names are short, simple, and evocative. Think of well-known pet brands throughout the world today, such as Petco, Petsmart, and Chewy. They all instantly provide insights into what the company sells, as well as giving us information about the brand identity. Make sure your name is easy to pronounce, and unique (you can do a trademark search here to double check for existing brands)
Once you’ve picked a name, make sure the accompanying domain is available for your store. You can purchase a custom domain name for your store directly within Shopify, or buy one from an alternative host and add it to your store.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Though you might be keen to start diving into your pet store website design process, or picking out products, it’s worth taking one additional step first: making a business plan. Your business plan is essentially a complete guide to everything your business is going to do, and how you’re going to reach your audience. It’s important to create this document not just as a resource for your team, but also to help you when you’re applying for investment and funding.
The exact elements of a business plan can vary, but for most ecommerce stores, it’s important to outline the following:
- What your company is going to do: What specific products are going to sell? How are you going to take your items to the market, and who will be manufacturing them?
- Targets: Who will your target audience be? What kind of competitors are you fighting against, and what do you want your profit margins to look like?
- Structure: What will the legal structure of your business look like? Are you working as a sole trader, a limited company, or a partnership?
- Legal requirements: Do you need to apply for any permits or licenses to sell your products? Is it important to get certain forms of insurance in place?
- Finances: How will you be funding your store, and what kind of price margins are going to set? Will you be offering one-off or subscription-style products?
Step 4: Design Your Products
This can be one of the simplest, or most complex steps of running a pet business, depending on how you approach it. You’ll need to ensure you’re investing in the right products for your target audience, so it’s worth doing some research into what kind of items are gaining interest. You can use tools like Google Trends to see what kind of items are generating the most attention.
Once you know which items you want to sell, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to produce them. If you want to take a hands-on approach, and you have a little extra cash, you could consider manufacturing items yourself. This will give you more control when it comes to producing highly unique products. If you want a more cost-effective strategy, you could consider dropshipping.
Many companies building websites with Shopify use the dropshipping model to send requests for orders to a third-party manufacturer. The manufacturer handles making, packaging, and shipping your products, reducing the amount of logistics work you need to do. Not only does this model save you time and effort, but it can also reduce your risk of over-stocking, as products are only made when customers submit an order.
Step 5: Create Your Online Store
Once you have your products, it’s time to design your online presence. A convenient pet store website builder like Shopify is extremely useful here, as it comes with everything you need to get started, even if you don’t have any coding experience. You’ll get a customizable checkout, comprehensive website, blog page, and everything else you need in one kit.
The most important part of building your store with Shopify, of course, is choosing the right theme. To save time and energy in bringing your idea to life, you may consider purchasing the Fetch Theme from Archetype Themes, a fully custom-made pet store website template specially designed for pet-related businesses. Fetch is a great solution for building a captivating and efficient e-commerce store. It comes with a vibrant design that conveys who you are and what your brand is about, as well as 35+ features that will help boost conversions. Not to mention, it's incredibly customizable, fast-loading, SEO-friendly, and mobile responsive!
Step 6: Market your Business
Finally, it’s time to get your new company in front of as many eyes as possible. If you’ve designed your pet store with Shopify, you’ll be able to leverage integrated tools for everything from social media marketing, to email advertising, built into your ecosystem. This means you can create a more comprehensive omnichannel plan for reaching your audience.
It’s also worth using the blog functionality included with all Shopify themes to help you build your presence on the web with Search Engine Optimization. Creating high-quality content targeted for specific keywords should assist you in bringing more eyes to your store.
Here are a few tips to remember when marketing your business:
- Target the right audience: Use your buyer personas to figure out where you’re most likely to reach your intended customers. Think about the social media channels they’ll use, what terms they’ll search for on Google, and even whether they’re more likely to be local or international customers.
- Go Omnichannel: Explore a wide range of channels to boost your brand reach. Don’t just post blogs and commit to SEO. Make sure you’re active on social media channels too. Options like Instagram and TikTok are excellent for pet brands because they’re highly visual. You can even share pictures of pets using your products to ramp up engagement.
- Run tests: Use analytics and insights to keep track of which marketing campaigns are driving the most attention to your store. You can find built-in analytics on social media channels and email marketing tools. Plus, there are third-party analytical tools like Google Analytics which can give you more information about your audience.
- Optimize: Make sure your site is easy to find online with search engine optimization. Use backlinks, internal linking, and keywords to boost your presence with the search engines. You can also enhance your chances of success by making sure your store runs quickly and smoothly with the help of the right pet store Shopify themes.
- Nurture: Remember, you don’t just want to collect new leads for your store, you want to turn them into advocates and fans of your business. Nurturing your customers with email marketing, regular communication across social media, and excellent customer service will increase your chances of long-term sales.
Ready to Start your Own Pet Business?
Running your own pet business can be a lucrative and engaging experience for anyone with a passion for animals, and entrepreneurship. Fortunately, it’s much easier to get started than you might think. With a website builder for small businesses like Shopify and the right website design template, you’ll be on your way to sales in no time.
Need help really bringing your new store to life? Check out Archetype Themes new Pet Store Fetch. Built specifically for the needs of pet product innovators, our theme will ensure you can stand out from the crowd, convert more customers, and send the right message to your target audience.