Ralf Majer-Abele
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The hype around pet subscription services

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Subscribing to a newspaper or magazine and having it delivered to one’s home is a centuries-old tradition. In the digital age, companies like Netflix and Hello Fresh are now latching onto this business model, providing customers with products and services on an ongoing basis. By doing this they hope to secure brand loyalty, but are also focused on customer retention.

Direct-to-consumer pet food sales had already started to gain momentum prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, pet food subscription services quickly grew in importance and made a significant contribution to the success of online retailing in the pet supplies sector. Even following the pandemic, the boom in subscription commerce, as this fast-growing distribution channel is termed, appears to show no sign of abating. In fact, people are seeking more convenience options and shopping from home seems to be a huge part of that.  

The idea of supplying subscription boxes containing dog and cat products to consumers was first hit upon by a number of start-up companies in the sector. Leading pet store chains soon began to get involved in this area, however. The UK chain Pets at Home was quick to recognise the growth potential of subscription commerce and has made subscriptions a firm feature of its multichannel strategy: in its report on fiscal 2023, the company was able to announce the impressive figure of 1.6 million pet care plan subscriptions – up 8 per cent year-on-year.

The leading pet store chains have long since realised the growth potential of ­subscription commerce, incorporating it as a firm ­feature of their multichannel strategy.

The Fressnapf Group also launched a subscription model back during the pandemic. Since March 2022, it has been offering pet owners in Germany, Austria and Luxembourg “Woof Boxes” and “Miaow Boxes”, which can be ordered on subscription under the Fressnapf Box brand. The chain announced in August that it had passed the milestone of 20 000 subscribers, propelling it to market leader in surprise boxes in the German-speaking region within just a year.

Europe’s leading online retailer of pet products, Zooplus AG, is also seeking a slice of these sales in future. The Zooplus subscription model is already up and running in Germany and Austria. It is expected to be extended to more than 20 European country shops in the next few months.

Ralf Majer-Abele

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