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PetSmart steps up online investments as web sales grow
The chain says the web influences $700 million a year in store sales.
Senior Editor, Research
The online channel represents a very small portion of total sales for pet products retail chain PetSmart Inc., but its e-commerce revenue is growing rapidly and web research is increasingly influencing in-store purchases, company executives told investors at a company event for investors and analysts last week.
“About 10% of our store sales, or about $700 million per year, are driven by shopping trips that start on PetSmart.com,” said senior vice president and chief marketing officer John Alpaugh. “Our e-commerce business is growing faster than the online industry, which we believe is growing at about 12% to 14% per year, so we continue to profitably grow market share by expanding our offerings and increasing our capabilities.”
PetSmart, No. 341 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, does not break out its e-commerce sales publicly, though Internet Retailer estimates it brought in $39.2 million in online sales in 2012, or less than 1% of its total sales, which were $5.98 billion.
That investment in the web includes several new initiatives aimed at growing online sales and driving web shoppers into stores.
In recent months, the merchant rolled out a feature that allows web site visitors to check in-store availability of products. PetSmart also launched an online pet pharmacy in September and is now including QR codes on its signs and product packaging, which link consumers to videos or extended product assortments online.
PetSmart is also filling online orders from an additional West Coast fulfillment center owned by eBay Enterprise Inc., formerly known as GSI Commerce, which is helping to reduce delivery times, PetSmart executives said. That eBay unit provides the e-commerce platform for PetSmart.
Plans for 2014 include making shopping via mobile devices easier for consumers, though the retailer did not provide details at its company event. About 30% of traffic to PetSmart.com comes from smartphones, Alpaugh said. Mobile commerce technology provider Usablenet built the merchant’s current mobile-optimized site.
PetSmart is also testing iPad minis in 19 stores, where associates can access PetSmart.com to assist in-store customers with placing online orders.
In addition, the merchant is planning to launch a new web site with eBay Enterprise. “This new platform give us enhanced natural search capabilities, better item comparison tools for our shoppers, as well as presentation of content for things like video and images,” he said.
The merchant is also testing buy online, pick-up in store capabilities, which is one of the features customers most often request, he said.