Question: I suppose I could just Google my question. But I really enjoy your street smart insight (and sense of humor). What's your take on the pet supplies market as an online business?
R.R. Nashville TN
Answer Marc Charles:
I like the pet supplies market......a lot.
I've helped a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs in this market.
We're in a Depression....we passed a recession several months ago. But the pet supplies market online is still going strong. People will always take care of their animals and pets.
Here's an article I wrote for Early to Rise on the topic:
People are crazy about their pets. I see it in our house every day. We spent more money this year on special pet food, toys, and treats than we spent going to the movies ... but I didn't realize this was a $34 billion market!
There are several ways to profit in this market. One of the best is by selling pet supplies, toys, and/or specialty foods directly to consumers.
You'll make even more money by targeting pet lovers who regularly shell out big bucks for these items without hesitation.
In today's issue, I'll focus on three opportunities that will enable you to take advantage of this incredible "pet lovers' market."
Here's a short list of products and services that are hot sellers (online and off):
* Pet Pages (pet websites and hosting)
* Toys (Forget about squeaking bones, PetCo.com has more than 10,000 different toys to choose from.)
* Pet Insurance (I'm not kidding. Premiums start at $1 a day.)
* Pet Yellow Pages
* Pet Adoption Services
* Pet E-mail Newsletters
* Pet Charities
* Pet Grams (sent via e-mail)
* Pet Gift Cards (huge!)
* Pet Shows (Everybody knows how big dog and cat shows are - but horse and bird shows are even bigger.)
* Pet Vitamins and Supplements
* Organic Pet Food (Our cat won't touch it - but it's a hot rising trend.)
If you want to launch a business and profit from this market in the offline world (via direct mail), here are 3 simple steps to take:
1. Obtain a mailing list of recent repeat buyers who have purchased pet supplies via direct mail that are in the price range of the products you want to sell.
2. Obtain the names of a pet food manufacturer and/or supplier who is willing to process your customers' orders and drop-ship them for you. Here are two such companies: CarefreeVet and Great Eastern Pet Supply.
3. Obtain preprinted catalogs that you can send to qualified prospects. Most pet supply wholesalers, drop-shippers, and affiliates make these available for you to use.
If you don't want to handle telephone orders yourself, you can retain a call center to do it for you. You'll find dozens of call centers that specialize in this type of thing at DMNews.com, or you can do a quick search on Google.
If you prefer to market pet products and services online, I've got great news. It has never been easier to sell these things on the Internet. Neeps.com, for example, is a specialty pet products retailer that has been very successful in "niche retail." They are ranked among InternetRetailing.com's Top 500.
The primary mechanism for selling pet products and services online is to attract or drive qualified traffic to your website.
You don't have a website? No problem! There are hundreds of companies online that offer instant e-commerce sites or storefronts.
What's more, sites like eBay, Yahoo! Marketplace, and Amazon.com Marketplace can deliver mind-boggling targeted traffic to your site. Or you can just post an instant mini-store on these traffic monsters.
Pet supplies affiliate programs are another great option.
Affiliate programs offer one of the fastest and easiest ways to profit from the pet products bonanza.
With an affiliate program, all you do is post a unique URL link in search engine keyword advertisements, on targeted high-traffic websites, or in targeted e-mail newsletters. When someone clicks on that link, they're brought to a pet supplies website. If that person makes a purchase on the website, you receive a commission.
The Petco.com affiliate program pays an 8% commission on sales up to $3,000 per month, and a 14% commission on sales over $15,000 per month.
PetsMart.com pays 15% on monthly sales over $16,000.
The beauty of an affiliate program with strong companies like Petco and PetsMart is they usually stick by their commission structure. (Unlike many small-time operators that revise the commission structure once you start selling like crazy.)
What's more, companies like Petco carry name brands and offer thousands of products.
Be sure to check out affiliate management companies like Commission Junction and Linkshare too. These guys make it super-easy for entrepreneurs like you and me to make money. Think of them as one-click affiliate superstores.
Two other concepts in the pet market that I like are pet insurance and pet pages (websites for pets).
PetCarePals.com offers pet insurance for $1 a month. You could either start your own company or joint venture with PetCarePals.com as an affiliate. If you choose to go the joint-venture route, your job would be to drive traffic and qualified prospects to their website via your unique pet insurance URL.
And here's the deal with pet websites ...
You could offer your customers dozens of website templates. You can design these pet pages yourself, obtain copyright-free templates on the Web, or hire a freelance designer to do them for you.
You could give the templates away to pet lovers but charge a small annual hosting fee. Or you could give the hosting away and charge for the templates. It's up to you.
If you give the hosting away, reserve the right to post advertising on the pet websites to get extra income.
And that's just for starters ...
Take a look at MyPetPages.com. They offer free pet websites and memorial pages to an active community of like-minded pet lovers. Plus, they make money on advertising by selling pet products as affiliates and with other value-added services.
As you can see, the profit opportunities in the pet lovers' market are enormous - online and offline - and nearly endless.
Determine which niche of the pet market you want to sell into.
If you want to sell pet food, products, insurance, and/or toys online, you'll need to build a simple (e-commerce friendly) website. Use successful websites as a guide.
If you're not making or developing your own products, you'll need to locate a manufacturer or supplier that will process and drop-ship the orders for you. A quick search on Google will provide hundreds of pet supply drop-shippers.
Your marketing efforts will be concentrated on attracting and driving qualified prospects to your site. And there are many ways to do this. You can advertise your products in pet-related e-mail newsletters and on high-traffic pet-related websites. You can also purchase keywords and phrases in the top search engines (like Google, Yahoo!, Lycos, MSN, AOL, and LookSmart).
Hot Tip: Prepaid keyword advertising is becoming even more popular than pay-per-click (PPC). PPC can be very expensive - especially when you're testing dozens or hundreds of keywords. Prepaid keyword ads enable you to determine the cost of your ads upfront. Two leaders in the prepaid keyword advertising area are ExactSeek and ISEDN.org.
Another option is to become an affiliate with a company like Petco.com. Petco.com offers thousands of brands, a streamlined affiliate program, brand recognition, and a good reputation with customers and affiliates.
If you prefer an offline direct-marketing approach, you'll need to get your hands on mailing lists of recent repeat pet-product buyers, a manufacturer or supplier to process your orders and drop-ship your products, and a full-color catalog that you can mail to prospects.
As I said, most pet supply wholesalers, drop-shippers, and affiliates make preprinted catalogs available for you to use. Just make sure the order form in the catalog includes a key code so you are credited for all sales.
You could also partner with veterinarians and provide them with pet products on a wholesale level. You can purchase thousands of top-quality pet products from China for pennies on the dollar.
Check out my China Wholesale Secrets Program while you're at it. This is the best program of its kind on the market - bar none!
If you live near a top pet supplies direct marketer, consider going to work for them on a temporary basis. If you're lucky, that will put you in a position to receive a million-dollar hands-on education. There may also be an opportunity for you to start or develop a new channel for the company, whereby you would receive a percentage of the profits if it's successful.
There you have it!
Now you have everything you need to know in order to profit from the $34 billion+ Pet Lovers' Market!
Responsive mailing lists
Pet Products Affiliate Programs
Doctors Smith and Foster
Pet Supply and Food Manufacturers (that offer drop-shipping)
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