Animals Matter starts selling omnichannel and sees a 45% increase in year-over-year sales
Multi-channel and omnichannel, Growth and scale, Upgrades
Scott and Nancy Avera turned their love of dogs into a successful business that not only provides luxury pet products—such as high-end dog beds, blankets, and car seats alongside accessibility items for less mobile pets, like ramps and steps—to canine companions but also donates to charities that help save dogs from kill shelters and find them forever homes. “We couldn’t find high quality products. So we decided to make our own. We wanted non-toxic, high quality, American made,” Scott says.
For years the company made a good living selling direct to retailers through catalogs. But the couple began to see catalog sales dwindle as more consumers began to buy directly on the web from online retailers like Amazon. They started to sell omnichannel directly to its consumers, using Shopify Plus and the Merchant Growth Model (MGM) to help them make the switch. Since essentially reconstructing its business model, Animals Matter has seen:
- A 45% year-over-year increase in sales
- Its number of returning customers grow 46%
- A 36% increase in conversions
- A 75% return on ad spend
For more than a decade, Animals Matter depended entirely on selling its product to retailers wholesale through catalogs, with nothing to worry about other than manufacturing and shipping. But in 2014, Scott began to take note of how Amazon was changing the marketplace. He was also concerned when traditional catalog sales began to slip and some exited the pet category altogether. He began to think about offering products directly to consumers.
The Animals Matter website was set up for ecommerce with ProductCart, but didn’t actually offer any products for sale. Aside from its website, the company had no online presence: no ecommerce, no social media feeds, no SEO or Google Ads strategies. Scott began experimenting with free trials of ecommerce solutions, eventually settling on Shopify.
“I loved that platform and I had a great experience with the people I talked to,” Scott says. “Shopify had an established app store, and I could accomplish everything I wanted to on the platform. I could be a non-web developer and still develop my own website.”
For the first time, Animals Matter was thinking about Google Ads, search, and social media, and sales began to grow. After a little more than half a year on the platform, Scott was contacted about upgrading to Shopify Plus, which would allow the company to take advantage of the Merchant Growth Model, a level of expert counsel offered to all Shopify Plus merchants.
Scott was intrigued and signed on. “I got personalized handheld guidance,” says Scott. “They helped us go from just thinking we should sell direct-to-consumer to having social media channels, a Google integration, a Shopping integration, and email integration—they helped us get all these things in place and educated us.”
Animals Matter began working through the MGM framework. Because Scott and Nancy were starting from scratch in nearly every area, Animals Matter set aggressive goals to help grow its sales, improve its marketing, and simply understand all the things that are possible with ecommerce sales.
We wanted to turn a corner and rev things up. All of the benefits that came with Shopify Plus hit our buttons. I felt like it was really going to help us.Scott AveraCo-founder, Animals Matter
Because Animals Matter was new to ecommerce, Shopify Plus took it through every channel, one by one. “We have followings now on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube, and we’re posting daily,” says Scott. “Google Ads, Search, and Shopping, display ads—we’re doing all of that. That was huge.”
Shopify Plus also showed Animals Matter the importance of staying in touch with its customers and keeping them engaged. It helped the company set abandoned cart emails, newsletters, and promotions.
While moving through MGM, Scott and Nancy even accidentally discovered they’d been sitting on a valuable piece of marketing for years. “I was telling our rep about all these great pictures our customers sent us every day of their dogs using our products,” says Nancy. He said, ‘These are gold. These are hard to come by.’ And we were getting these pictures left and right. We were clueless. The catalogs used to do everything for us.”
Signing up with Shopify Plus felt like the front door opened up and we were part of the family.Scott AveraCo-founder, Animals Matter
Leaving behind the catalog business was hard, but Animals Matter knew it had to make a change in order to survive.
“We used to do no marketing at all,” says Scott. “All of a sudden, the phone starts ringing so much we have to hire a customer service staff. It’s completely evolved into a whole other business.”
Although Animals Matter had no pre-Shopify ecommerce sales to compare to, it’s numbers are still impressive. Sales have been increasing 45% year over year, conversions are up 36%, and its number of returning customers are up 46%. The company has also seen a 75% return on ad spend for its branded Google Ads.
Animals Matter not only survived in the face of a changing market, it used the challenge to its advantage and is now thriving more than ever.
Shopify literally held our hand. Without Shopify, there’s no chance in hell we’d be where we are. We were clueless. We didn’t even know what we didn’t know.Scott AveraCo-founder, Animals Matter