Penny and Pixie – our Bernedoodles! My family is blessed to have them and we would do anything for them. There’s a lot to do and buy when you have two large dogs. We visit the pet stores to purchase supplies, but more often we buy the products we need online. This is a growing trend. Pet e-commerce is growing at a rapid rate and is expected to hit 48 billion by 2027.

I have been on the big box and specialty websites to order products for my dogs. My experience varied widely. Some sites were easy to use and gained my loyalty. Others were bad enough that I abandoned my cart in frustration. Users are finicky. Every usability issue encountered results in some users abandoning the site – this could be a cumulative effect of smaller issues or 1 big issue.

Foxgroove specializes in evaluating the usability of websites, apps, and software. We wanted to get a handle on the state of e-commerce in the pet industry. We started our research by evaluating 5 sites: Best Bully Sticks, PetSense, PetSmart, Pet Supermarket, and Pet Supplies Plus.

Our evaluation focused on the usability of search, one of the foundations of e-commerce.

The Competitive Landscape

Every site has usability issues that can be addressed to optimize key metrics like conversion.

The use case we evaluated follows the path of a user as they search for a product, select an option from the search results, and review the product details. There was a wide variation in overall usability across the 5 pet e-commerce sites in our study. Best Bully Sticks had the lowest usability impact for the scenario (-36). Pet Supplies Plus had the highest usability impact (-96), which is 2.6x worse than Best Bully Sticks.

Competitive Landscape: Site Rankings

Usability matters – increase conversion by fixing your site’s issues. Contact us to learn more.

Opportunities for Improvement

Users expect an intuitive and seamless experience.

Optimizing the usability of an e-commerce site can bring significant benefits. Collections of small, related issues can have the same or greater impact as a single, larger issue. As we assessed each site, it was clear that each one had its stronger points and weaknesses. Many of the issues we found can be solved easily. We always recommend assessing the usability impact against development effort to prioritize fixes that have the most impact first.

With dozens of e-commerce sites available to pet owners, businesses that invest in experience design will win brand loyalty and increase marketshare. In our study, PetSmart and Pet Supplies Plus have the most work to do, but all sites can make significant improvements.

Highest and Lowest Usability Impact per Feature

The usability impact for the Search Feature ranged from -6 (Pets Supplies Plus) to -24 (PetSmart), a 4x difference. PetSmart had 6 issues including ‘Bully Sticks’ not appearing in the autosuggest bar despite that feature being available:

The usability impact for the Search Results ranged from -10 (Best Bully Sticks) to -45 (Pet Supplies Plus), a 4.5x difference. Pet Supplies Plus had 11 issues, 8 of which were accessibility/contrast violations:

The usability impact for the Product Details ranged from -13 (Best Bully Sticks & Petsense) to -45 (Pet Supplies Plus), a 3.5x difference. Pet Supplies Plus had 4 intersecting issues around the Dimension and Product Size dropdowns that made them look inactive:

Interested but not in the pet industry? We conduct usability evaluations for any vertical.


The pet e-commerce vertical is in a huge growth spurt and competition is high. Companies can differentiate themselves through great products and a great user experience. We found huge disparities in the types and usability impact of issues across the 5 sites in our study. High ROI opportunities exist to improve the user experience in each site.