Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Pet Expert: Micro-stores on the Forefront of Pet Industry Growth

The pet industry is a pretty remarkable entity. Consider the fact that during times of economic instability, recession, and even a global pandemic, the pet industry simply kept growing.

In particular, the Canadian pet industry has had impressively positive growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. In large part, this is due to the uptick in pet ownership during lockdowns, as well as a vast increase in remote-working arrangements.

As shoppers continue to become more comfortable with online shopping, the estimated percentage of North American households buying their pet supplies through e-commerce retailers has jumped from 13% to an estimated 25%+.

While the multinational pet brands take the largest slice of the pet industry pie, it is the independent micro-pet retailers leading the charge in gaining the loyalty of internet-savvy pet owners. Known as micro-businesses, micro-enterprises, or micro-stores, these pet-boutique retailers usually have a staff of less than 10, including the owner. In fact, they’re often run entirely by just one person.

As pet owners increasingly seek more personalized advice regarding their beloved best friends, micro-stores offer a unique service that is nearly impossible to recreate by the multinational big box stores.

There are three fundamental channels that enable micro-stores to grow at such a rate:

Affiliate Marketing

While this term is loosely used, affiliate marketing typically refers to programs where one can earn a commission from online sales that result from sharing links. For example, a dog walking blog might share an affiliate link to another site that sells dog leashes, and when a sale is made they will earn a commission.

Affiliates market through a number of different avenues, which can include websites and blogs, social media, online forums, email lists, and more.

Charities and non-profit organizations often use affiliate sales for fundraising initiatives.

In 2016, the global affiliate market was valued at $13 billion. Only five years later, it is now worth an astonishing $17 billion. As you can imagine, the pet industry takes up a large chunk of those revenues.


In a drop-shipping partnership, a website owner sells products through their site, and a third party company warehouses and ships the orders. The website owner is then paid a percentage of the sale. This is an excellent option for shrewd webpreneurs who do not have the capital, or the desire, to purchase, warehouse, and ship physical goods on their own.

Canadian Pet Connection is launching drop-shipping services for smaller websites in the summer of 2022.

Both affiliate sales and drop-shipping have become popular due to the relatively simple nature: one can set up an online store, with the low costs associated with starting this type of business, and the ability to make your own schedule. The downside is that, in an already heavily saturated market, it can be quite difficult to gain traction.

Brand Stores

The push for buying locally has benefited largely from the pandemic for two main reasons: Canadians have begun to understand the realities of the fragile global supply chain, and also the importance of growing our economy from within.

Because of this, an increasing number of online shoppers are venturing into a number of small brand websites, placing micro-orders rather than using an all-in-one shopping solution like Walmart or Amazon. This has given small Canadian pet businesses the capital they need to grow and develop their online presence, develop new products, and give more back to their communities.

Some of Canada’s finest boutique pet brands, such as Wanderlust Creatures, Shades of Gray Indigenous Pet Treats, and Legendary Canine are leading the way in online user experience and design, serving customers directly from their websites.

As the economy continues to evolve throughout the pandemic, e-commerce entrepreneurs are paving the way for online pet industry growth both today, and in the future.

Brandon Forder, known as The Pet Expert, is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, an industry leader in healthy pet lifestyles. Brandon is certified in pet nutrition, and has more than twenty-five years’ experience specializing in pet health and behaviour. He has written hundreds of informative pet-related articles for newspapers, magazines, radio, and the popular Ask the Pet Expert Blog. Brandon is highly skilled in pet problem solving, and enjoys teaching others about smart and responsible pet ownership. To learn more, visit

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