People love their pets. In fact, many pet owners treat their furry friends like their own children, buying endless toys, beds, treats, you name it.
Cat owners especially are known for their deeply-rooted feline obsessions, earning monikers like “crazy cat lady”. But despite how “crazy” they may seem, they could be your next loyal customers.
So if you haven’t considered selling cat products online, you might want to change your tune. After all, the market is huge — and largely recession-proof. Let’s look at some numbers:
- Millions of people love and/or have cats.
- According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are 58.4 million pet cats in the United States. (source)
- Do a quick search on Instagram and you’ll see that cat-themed accounts have huge followings. For example, @cats_of_instagram has 11.5 million followers and @catloversclub has 3.8 million followers.
- Cat-related hashtags are used millions and millions of times on Instagram alone, meaning they reach that many people (and more): #catsofinstagram, #cats, and #catstagram all have tens if not hundreds of millions of posts.
- The pet industry as a whole is “famously recession-resistant, coming through 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2008 relatively unscathed.” (source)
- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and global stay-at-home orders, dog and cat ownership is on the rise. (source)
- A recent study by Cat Person found that 80% of cat owners feel overlooked when it comes to food and products made specifically for cats, and “that cat owners aren’t getting what they deserve from the pet industry or pet store chains.” (source)
Needless to say, cat ownership is not going to end anytime soon — and cat people want more and better products for their feline friends.
Talk about opportunity.
To help you sell cat products online, we put together the following guide with ideas on what to sell, where and how to sell it, how to market to cat owners, and more. Let’s begin.
Why Niche Down?
Before diving into all things cat eCommerce, let’s talk about niching down.
In eCommerce, this means focusing on a very specific and unique market segment or category. Using the topic of this post as an example, you could sell broadly to the pet owner market, or you could niche down to focus only on cat owners. You could niche even further and focus on a specific cat breed or cat product.
Even though your market would be smaller, there are a wealth of possibilities:
- Advertising costs will be lower since your audience will be smaller
- There should be less competition
- You can market more efficiently with messaging that is more tailored and specific to your target market
- You’ll attract a loyal and engaged customer base from the start
All in all, picking a niche category and creating a solid strategy for it will allow you to sell a lot of goods and keep your marketing costs down.
The Best Cat Products to Sell Online
By now, you understand the benefits of niching down and the opportunities within the cat space. But what should you focus on selling?
A great strategy for finding high-demand cat products is by doing keyword research to see what people are searching for the most. You could also use a third-party product research tool to find cat products that sell well.
As a starting point, here are five top cat products to consider:
- Novelty cat beds: Apparently floor pillows and basic cat beds aren’t enough. Instead, cat owners are investing in novelty cat beds — i.e. cat beds that come in fun shapes, bright colors, or silly designs.
- Cat litter mats: Like doormats for a litter box, cat litter mats help collect and trap stray litter that splashes out of a litter box or off of a cat’s foot as it’s leaving its bathroom.
- Grooming tools: Products like cat nail clippers and slicker brushes are always in need for owners who don’t want to get scratched by sharp cat claws and/or who want to minimize shedding.
- Premium food & cleaners: These days, pet owners are prioritizing the long-term health of their pets by looking for food made with human-grade ingredients and household cleaners that are deemed safe for pets.
- Dental toys & cat toothbrushes: Dental hygiene has become an area of focus for pet owners — perhaps because our recent stay at home orders are bringing pet owners more time and opportunities to finally take care of their cats’ plaque.
And don’t forget to do some competitive research, too — sites like Amazon, Chewy, and Petco often highlight top-selling products in a given category and niche cat-specific stores should as well. Checking there should give you a sense for what people are buying most for their cats.
Where & How to Sell Cat Products
Okay, so you know what you’re going to sell. Where are you actually going to sell it — and how will you manage inventory and orders?
There are a number of ways to get your cat product sales off the ground:
- Create your own online cat product store: Use a platform like Shopify to build an eCommerce website that is 100% devoted to your cat products.
- Use your existing eCommerce business: If you already sell on a marketplace like Amazon or Walmart, or have an existing eCommerce store through Shopify, for example, you could simply start there.
- Look into niche marketplaces: Look into third-party selling opportunities on pet-specific sites like Chewy, or create a shop on Etsy, which is known for its niche makers and sellers.
When you actually get orders, you’ll need to have a fulfillment and shipping strategy in place. You could own this yourself by storing inventory and shipping orders yourself or by using a third-party fulfillment company.
Or, you could opt for drop-shipping. There are several inventory strategies to consider — and each one has its own requirements when it comes to order fulfillment and shipping.
Learn more in our inventory sourcing guide.
How to Market to Cat Owners
“If you build it, they will come.”
If only it were that easy!
To let cat enthusiasts know about your eCommerce store and/or product, you need a solid marketing strategy. Here are a few tactics to try:
- Cross-sell your own products: Make sure that your product listings include a recommended product section with “More from this collection” “People also liked” or “Frequently bought together” headline. This should encourage buyers to add more to their carts.
- Partner with influencers on social media: Engage “cat influencers” to run special promotions or content swaps.
- Create a blog: Find out what cat-specific information your customers want and/or enjoy, then create a blog where you can post engaging content and plug your products as appropriate. You can share blog content on social media, in email marketing, and more.
- Build an email list: Encourage website visitors to sign up for your email list by offering perks like discount codes for first-time shoppers. Then market to them — as well as existing customers — with email campaigns, special promotions, abandoned-cart reminders, etc.
- Run online ads: Run Facebook Ad campaigns or Google Ads for popular cat-related keywords.
- Partner with veterinarians: See if a veterinarian in your area would be willing to share marketing materials or recommend your products to their cat-owner clients. They will likely expect a referral fee, but if they drive enough business your way, it could end up being worth it.
- Work with cat rescues and breeders: You won’t find anyone more passionate about cats and the products they love than people who run cat rescues or breed cats for a living. Not only will they be your biggest product advocates, but these “cat people” are also an excellent source of product ideas or product improvements. So you can look to them for feedback and ideas.
- Launch a loyalty and/or referral program: Encourage your customers to keep shopping from you and/or telling their friends by creating a loyalty and/or referral program with special discounts, etc.
- Partner with Subscription Boxes: There are subscription boxes for just about every niche and pet niches are very well-represented. Work with someone who has a cat or pet subscription box and see if they are willing to feature your product in one of their boxes. In addition to the product, you can also include a coupon for a percentage off their next purchase.
The great thing about these marketing tactics is that you can get real-time data on performance, thus allowing you to see what’s working and what’s not so you can optimize quickly and save money.
At the end of the day, eCommerce niches provide a lot of opportunity — especially for cat products. If you need help scaling and funding your online cat empire, Payability can help. With our Instant Advance solution, you could get a capital advance on your future sales as soon as tomorrow. Use the funds to invest in inventory, launch marketing campaigns, and more. Approval is based on account health and sales performance, there are no credit checks and no complicated paperwork. Plus, you can get approved for up to $250,000 in just 24 hours.
Sell on Shopify? Learn more about Instant Advance for Shopify and get a pre-qualified offer in 10 minutes when you connect your Shopify API. Instant Advance for Shopify works well alongside Shopify Capital or other financing solutions you already have in place. Unlike Shopify Capital, we offer a fee rebate for early repayment. For more on how Instant Advance compares to and works alongside Shopify Capital, check out this side by side comparison.
If you want to get paid faster for your Amazon or marketplace sales, our Instant Access product gives you accelerated daily payouts on marketplaces such as Amazon that pay on terms. So you’ll always have money in the bank to reinvest in inventory, marketing, and more. You’re not doing yourself (or your cat) any favors by letting your money sit with Amazon for 14+ days. So grow and get paid faster with Instant Access. See for yourself how longtime Instant Access customer Affordable Allergy Test uses next-day Amazon payouts to take their business to the next level.