Online shopping vs traditional shopping

1000 respondents - Trends and habits - April 2020
An extensive survey in North America to find out what pet owners think of online shopping as opposed to traditional shopping.

General behaviour

The first, significant finding of the survey was that there is a large difference in pet owner shopping behaviour in Canada versus the US. When asked about their shopping behaviour, a mere 14% of Canadians indicated they primarily use online channels, versus 28% of the US pet owners. Not surprisingly maybe, therefore, is that 51% of Canadians said they prefer traditional shopping, whereas that percentage is only 33% of pet owners in the US. The remainder of the respondents answered they use both channels. Furthermore, 61% of US pet owners say they buy online using their smartphones, while only 44% of Canadians say they buy online in this way.

Why not?

When asked why pet owners prefer to purchase at traditional pet retailers, more than half of the respondents in both countries cite as main reasons the added value of seeing what they are buying and getting personal advice and information about a product.A third of all respondents – again in both countries – say they need to do their own research on the internet before buying online, because e-commerce websites fall short as far as sales support goes.

Spending habits

There is a notable difference between the amount of money people from both countries spend on their pet products. As can be seen in the graph, US pet owners more often spend a higher amount on purchasing pet products than their Canadian counterparts do. The reason for this could be the larger number of products that Americans buy per purchase.We also asked to what extent the weight of pet products influences the decision to buy online. Only 26% of Canadian pet owners say weight is of influence, compared to 47% of American pet owners. However, time saving and convenience considerations for opting for online purchases are equal amongst pet owners in both countries.

Brand loyalty

Brand loyalty scores low in both countries. Around two thirds of both groups of respondents say they are not held to one retailer. This means that a third of both groups say they actually are loyal to a certain brand. This particular trend can be seen in couponing as well. When asked whether coupons or online reductions motivate the pet owner when choosing where to buy pet supplies, respondent percentages were almost the same: 60% of the Canadians say coupons influence their shopping behaviour, as opposed to 65% of US pet owners.


It is safe to say that pet parents from both countries are increasingly likely to use online platforms for buying pet products, but mainly for pet food, treats and toys. This is possibly due to the fact that consumers already know which pet food they want. Moreover, treats and toys are a small and a not so specific purchase and therefore safe to buy, without having first seen or felt it. Leashes, bedding, playpens, strollers and other products, however, are purchased less online as pet owners prefer to feel and experience such larger purchases before buying.

Last but not least, North American pet owners are not particularly loyal to a single brand. They generally do not mind who produces their pet’s food, as long as the quality is good, and the price is right