In a battle of Chewy vs Amazon, who wins when it comes to pet products? This in-depth review highlights the pros and cons of each. As when it comes to food, toys, and accessories, many pet parents choose to order online for reasons such as lower costs and a greater variety of options. Online stores help you quickly find the products you are looking for and deliver them directly to your door.
Two such stores are Amazon, with their designated pet care section, and Chewy, a newer, smaller pet niche website. Despite carrying the same kinds of items, they differ in some significant ways.
Chances are you already have your favorite, but there’s always room for change… Here we will take an in-depth look at both these sites, touching on everything from the availability of pet products, to pricing, shipping, and the website’s user experience to help you decide which one is right for you.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of decades, you will already be familiar with the e-commerce titan that is Amazon. Many of you have likely been ordering electronics, household products, clothes, books, toys, and gifts from them for years.
Amazon is the largest retailer around, and for good reason. With an extensive array of products and reliable shipping services, there is no doubt that Amazon’s popularity is much-deserved. A multitude of third-party vendors sell directly through the site, keeping prices competitive and making it all that less likely that the particular item you want will be out of stock.
Fewer people are likely to be familiar with Chewy, an online pet store founded in 2011 and based out of Dania Beach, Florida. Purchased in 2017 by the chain superstore PetSmart, Chewy has been growing in leaps and bounds and is fast becoming the go-to site for pet parents in the know.
Given the company’s exclusive focus on pet products, their website is set up to offer the best possible experience for owners. With over 65,000 brands of pet foods, supplements, accessories, and medication on offer, they are certainly giving Amazon a run for their money in this department. Chewy also offers a few additional side services that will be detailed later in this article.
Chewy vs Amazon: Let’s Break it Down
Amazon is Like a Box of Chocolates: You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get
Having scoured oodles of product reviews across both sites, Amazon certainly seems to come out worst in the pet food category. Common complaints on food orders include dried-out, dusty, foul-smelling, and even pest-infected kibble – not good! For canned goods, items were sometimes damaged in transit, leaving the food inside open to the elements and essentially spoiled.
For accessories such as beds, toys, and grooming equipment, some Amazon users commented that the item they received looked nothing like the one displayed in the listing. Others mention that it didn’t live up to the brand’s usual standards in terms of quality or durability. Such issues have made buyers question whether their product was the real deal.
One such example of Amazon’s quality assurance issues is they’ve made buyers question whether their Chris Christensen product was genuine. As such, we recommend purchasing Chris Christensen products from Cherrybrook.)
This highlights issues with purchasing goods from third-party sellers – it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting. While Amazon generally does a good job of policing their merchants, given the company’s size, a few bad apples are bound to slip through the net.
Chewy Eliminates QA Concerns
Chewy, on the other hand, fulfills all of its orders directly. This effectively eliminates quality assurance concerns. Reviews on the quality of received items compared to expectations were found to be overwhelmingly positive. The company has even gone so far as to create a unique product that can be slipped over the top of wet food to protect them while shipping.
Chewy vs Amazon: Price Comparison
Pets are a costly business, so the price of items, especially ones that need to be bought regularly, such as food, is a valid concern. A natural assumption is that Amazon, as the larger company, would have the best deals.
In a recent live comparison of three of our top-rated products, here’s what we discovered:
Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin and Stomach: Salmon and Rice Formula 41 lb Bag
- Price matched + Free Shipping on both Amazon and Chewy
FurHaven Ultra Plush Luxe Lounger Pet Bed Jumbo
- Price on Amazon: $$$ + Free Shipping
- Price on Chewy: $$ + Free Shipping ($30 cheaper)
Adventure Medical Kits Adventure Dog Series: Me & My Dog First Aid Kit
- Price on Amazon: $$ + Free Shipping
- Price on Chewy: $$ + Free Shipping ($8 cheaper)
Rather than Amazon being the clear winner, Chewy undercuts them on two of the three products and matches them on the final one. Very unexpected!
Disclaimer: Prices were correct at the time of writing (Jan. 2021). Free shipping applies to regions within the United States.
Variety of Products Available
This is where Amazon really comes into its own. The pet supplies department includes everything you could possibly ever need for your dog, cat, fish, rabbit, bird, lizard, and even horse. Amazon even provides personalized recommendations based on details you provide on your pet(s). We can honestly say that we have never found Amazon to be missing anything.
Yet, in our eyes, Chewy more than makes up for this by allowing customers to purchase prescribed medications (with the correct authorization) from their pet pharmacy. These are often available at much lower prices than from the vet.
Psst! Check out Chewy’s current deals here.
Shopping Experience and Customer Service
In terms of usability, we would say that the sites are neck-and-neck. Type “dog food” into either one of their search bars, and instantly you’re offered a range of filters – everything from brand to price to health benefits and food texture. From there, it’s easy to navigate through the products to find the perfect one for your pup.
Interestingly, although Amazon beats Chewy in terms of sheer number of listings (3,900 for Chewy, more than 30,000 on Amazon), Chewy’s filter lists a much greater number of pet food brands – a staggering 297 to Amazon’s measly ten.
Likewise, they both offer stupendously efficient customer support with representatives available around the clock through a range of mediums, including email, chat, and phone. Website users can access experts to support them with listed products. Although with Amazon, this service is only available for “eligible items” after purchase.
Chewy customers can not only chat with knowledgeable staff whenever they choose, but also with a licensed veterinarian who can help them with more general health questions such as “which food is best for my dog?” They can even get referrals to local vets and emergency clinics.
Shipping – Chewy vs Amazon
Shipping is a little more clear cut for Chewy than Amazon – this is where that pesky issue of third-party sellers once again raises its ugly head. While many options ordered directly from the site that exceed $25 are eligible for free shipping – not to mention free “2-day” shipping for Prime members – this might not necessarily be the case for the specific item you are after.
Amazon, likewise, can’t guarantee the speed of shipping and date of delivery for third-party vendors. Unfortunately, not every product is Prime-eligible. Our experience has generally been pretty good, but on a couple of occasions, we have been left waiting past the delivery date for the item to even be shipped – not ideal!
Chewy, in fulfilling all their orders directly, can be a lot more specific about both of these. Everything ships for a flat rate of $4.95 except when the order exceeds $49 – those items ship for free. As for delivery, according to their website, “most customers can expect to receive their food and supplies within 1 to 3 days.” To date, this has been the case for us.
Returning items can be quite tricky with Amazon. Products purchased directly from them can be returned within a 30-day window for a full refund, and they do make it relatively easy where you can drop off your return item at a nearby UPS Store, who handles the packaging and shipping.
However, third-party sellers on Amazon have individual return policies that can vary quite considerably. It should also be noted that Amazon does not accept returns on food products. Still, they may be refunded or replaced depending on the issue.
Chewy not only provides a more transparent returns service, they massively outdo Amazon, letting customers return purchases they are not “100% unconditionally satisfied with” up to 365 days later! The exception to this is prescription medication unless there was a problem with the initial order.
Repeat Order Services
Both companies also offer repeat order services. These are convenient for ensuring that you never run low on food, supplements, or medications. They benefit return buyers by offering incentives such as price discounts on selected brands.
With Amazon’s Subscribe and Save, many of the included products are sold at better prices. One of the great things about this particular service is that you will always be charged the initial price – great if it happened to be on sale at the time! Chewy’s Autoship offers those that register a 30% initial discount and up to 10% off selected products after that.
Chewy vs Amazon: The Trust Factor
Many of us are heavily influenced by customer ratings. For this reason, you want to be able to trust that reviews are actually written by customers with no vested interest in selling the item and who provide an accurate representation of it.
Sadly, this is not always the case on Amazon, where accounts of fake, paid, or solicited reviews, and even instances of new retailers purchasing pages with existing reviews, are rife. While Amazon devotes significant resources to sniffing these out and deleting them, the problem is so widespread that they don’t always get there in time. As a result, new customers are often fooled into buying inferior products.
On Chewy, the absence of third-party vendors vying for business makes fake reviews much less likely. However, they do allow anyone with an account to leave a review, even for products they haven’t purchased – which is a bit dodge! According to a customer service representative, all reviews are checked before being posted, but we think both companies could do more to protect their customers here.
Giving Back to the Community
The values that a company has says a lot about who they are. One that supports philanthropic projects cares about more than making a profit. The good news here is that both Amazon and Chewy both support charitable causes, but each in their own unique way.
Amazon Smile lets customers select their favorite from over one million local and national organizations and donates 0.5% of the cost of their purchases to that charity at no extra cost to the customer. To date, they have donated more than $237 million on their customer’s behalf.
As might be expected from a pet-focused store, Chewy has a Rescue and Shelter Network committed to supporting non-profit organizations that help animals in need. This year Chewy donated $7.2 million in pet food, healthcare supplies, and other essential products to animal welfare organizations impacted by COVID-19 throughout the US. A win for both, I feel.
A Personalized Approach
There is no doubt that Amazon is an excellent company as far as large retailers go, and we will continue to purchase a variety of products from them. However, when it comes to pet care, Chewy just seems to offer that little bit more. And it’s not just about brand options, prices, or shipping reliability, Chewy opts for the more personalized approach, and that is important when it comes to pet care.
Chewy bases its entire customer service philosophy on making the experience more intimate for customers. They often mail handwritten notes and holiday cards. They even send flowers to people when their pets die. Beyond that, each week, they select more than 1,000 of their customers to receive a free oil portrait of their pet – what could be more personal than that?
So, there it is, our little rundown of the two biggest online pet supply providers. For us, Chewy has come out very firmly on top. Honestly, we’re as surprised as you are. We thought that Amazon would knock Chewy flat across the board, especially for prices and product options.
However, Chewy combines the best of both worlds. They offer all the benefits of a large-scale retailer with the friendless that you could previously only hope to find down at your local pet store.
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