by Shannon Brown
June 4, 2021
Although veterinarians remain the main source for buying pet medications, e-commerce has cornered all the growth momentum. In 2019, the pet medications market entered a new, more Internet-driven era as Chewy and Walmart opened up online prescription pharmacies and Petco teamed with Express Scripts for online pharmacy fulfilment.
Enter 2020, with pandemic-driven online sales spiking across all pet product categories, pet medications included. On top of the ramped up activity of Chewy, Walmart, and Petco, last year saw:
Packaged Facts survey data show that online shopping rates for pet medications notched up in the wake of COVID-19. In our February 2021 survey, 23% of dog and cat pet product shoppers had purchased flea and tick medication online in the past 12 months, compared to 18% in the previous-year survey. As of February 2021, similarly, 19% had bought heartworm medication online in the past 12 months, compared to 11% the year before.
(percent of dog or cat product shoppers)
Based on online survey panel of 2,000 U.S. adults 18+
Contributing to this online shopping boom are autoship and subscription delivery services, which have long been a strategic focus for pet products generally for Chewy as well as Amazon. Autoship rates for flea/tick and heartworm medications—at 8% each in 2021—doubled since 2020.
Of the major brick-and-mortar-based pet retailers, only PetSmart has yet to (re)launch online pharmacy access in the wake of its separation from Chewy/Chewy Pharmacy. And while Amazon has not yet announced any intention to enter the pet pharmacy space, the e-commerce juggernaut is a potential—and likely—prescription pet medications behemoth, given its launch of its Amazon Pharmacy and PillPack services for people.
Whatever the timelines and tactics of key pet market competitors, pet medications e-commerce will for years to come continue to out-perform sales growth through all other vet, pet specialty, or retail store channels.
For more information on the pet medications market, see Packaged Facts’ just-released Pet Medications in the U.S., 7th Edition, which covers historical and projected retail sales from 2016 through 2025, competitive strategies of key players, marketing and new product trends, retail/e-tail channel dynamics, and opportunities for growth.
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