These days we buy just about everything online. Not only do we find great deals that way, it’s so much more convenient than heading out to the mall in all manner of weather. Recently, I purchased a 52-inch smart TV, and instead of having to have it loaded into my car, and then schlep it into my house, I had it delivered right to my door.
I can’t even remember the last time I set foot in a clothing store – why would I, when I can get a better selection online, and usually at a fraction of what I’d pay in a brick and mortar store? I also buy books, toys for Janice and Leroy, seeds and shrubs, and more, all on-line.
One thing that I don’t buy online is dog food, but that’s only because I feed my guys store brand foods. If I were disposed toward buying more expensive dog food, and feeding the same kind all the time, though, I would definitely consider buying online, because again, I know I’d get a better deal than I would in a pet supply store.
One of the most cost-effective, convenient ways of handling your dog’s nutritional requirements online is by dealing with a subscription dog food company, like PetFoodDirect.com, or by using Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” service.Of course, there are plenty of other options, so let’s talk about what to consider when it comes to subscription dog food.
Choosing the Right Subscription Dog Food Company
The companies I’ve just mentioned are two of the biggest, and both enjoy an outstanding reputation – they’ve been around a long time, and enjoy favorable customer reviews. In fact, customer reviews are one of the most important things you should look at when choosing a subscription dog food provider. After all, a company isn’t going to tell you that they’re known for shipping late, delivering damaged or substandard products, or screwing up on your billing, but you can bet that their customers will tell you!
Research the company before you commit, and also make sure to take a good look at the customer reviews.
Also, take a look at pricing. It’s a given that you’ll always find a better deal online than you will in a store, but even so, there can be huge variations in pricing from one company to another. Large companies are able to hold a lot of inventory, so they’re able to buy in bulk. Then, they pass the savings on to their customers. Smaller subscription dog food companies don’t have this advantage, so you can expect to pay more.
Beyond the actual price, you should also look at shipping costs. Some subscription dog food companies will offer a very low cost on the food, but then when you look at the shipping, you’ll see that the costs involved to get the product to you take a deep gouge out of the amount you’re saving. Always look at price plus shipping when making your decision.
You’ll also want to look for coupons and special offers. Not all subscription dog food companies offer incentives, but many do. Search out the name of the company you’re considering and add “coupon codes” to your search criteria. That way, you’ll find out what’s immediately available, and you can use these additional savings when you sign up for a subscription. Also, once you’ve settled on a company, make sure to sign up for emails and newsletters – often, you’ll find additional savings for special occasions like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, etc.
Of course, you also have to consider the products that the subscription dog food company is offering. If you have a particular food that you’re looking for, it really doesn’t matter how great the savings might be if your choice isn’t available. Alternatively, if you’re a bit flexible and really focused on trying to save money, you can always take a look at the nutritional content of the food, and select one that’s similar to what you’re already feeding.
Benefits of AutoShipping
The main benefit to subscription dog food is, of course, that your food is shipped automatically. You can set up an initial purchase, and then simply instruct the company to repeat that same order at specified intervals. The benefits of auto shipping are as follows:
1. Better Pricing
In addition to the cost savings outlined above, many companies offer “bonus” savings when you choose auto shipping. This can be as little as 5%, or as much as 15% on each shipment. Also, when you factor in not having to spend money on gas to drive to the store to get your dog food, you’re keeping even more of your hard-earned cash in your pocket.
2. Regular Delivery
You know how much food your dog goes through in a typical period of time, so it should be easy to determine how often you want your dog food subscription company to ship. You simply set the intervals, and then your purchase is sent out automatically, and automatically charged to your credit card or PayPal account. You’ll never again have to worry about running out of dog food, and having to head off to the pet supply store when it’s least convenient.
3. No More Schlepping Heavy Bags!
If you have large dogs, or several dogs, you’re probably always having to move heavy bags from store shelves to a shopping cart, and then from the cart to your vehicle, and finally from your vehicle into your home. Subscription dog food eliminates a good deal of the difficult work. This can be an absolute godsend to people who are elderly or who aren’t as strong as they used to be.
4. No More Forgetting!
We all try to do the best we possibly can for our dogs, but the reality is, once in a while, stuff happens and life throws things at us. Then, we might fail to notice that we’re getting a little low on dog food. That’s not usually a problem if your dog eats a common brand of food, but if you’re feeding a specialty brand, you might find that your regular store has run out and that other stores don’t carry that brand. Then, you end up struggling to find a comparable product, and also having to accustom your dog gradually to the new food so that he doesn’t experience gastric distress.
With auto shipping, you can expect deliveries on a regular schedule, so if you’re getting low, forget to go to the store, or forget to order more dog food online, it’s a total non-issue. Your dog food subscription means that you no longer have to worry about forgetting.
If you’re going to be taking a vacation with your dog, and buying your dog food “on the road,” subscription dog food companies simply need to be notified to suspend shipments until you return. By the same token, if your dog’s dietary requirements should change, and you need to receive food more often than you did before, or you need to receive less, you can adjust the shipping intervals accordingly. You won’t have to worry about running out, or conversely, ending up with a surplus of dog food.
If you live in one location during the summer and another during the winter, again, you’ll find subscription dog food companies will be very responsive to your needs. Just let them know when you’re changing locations, and they’ll make sure that your dog food arrives at the new address until they’re advised to switch back to the former address.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? You’ll find that subscription dog food companies are very willing to accommodate your requirements, and they’ll usually also be very willing to answer any questions or concerns you might have.
I’ll try to deal with some of the more common questions in the material that follows.
Auto Shipping FAQ
The details can vary depending on which company you’re dealing with. Most seem to follow the PetFoodDirect model, so I’m basing this FAQ on information I found at PetFoodDirect.com.
1. How does pricing work?
Prices on dog food can fluctuate a bit. If your dog food is on sale, you will get your next shipment at the sale price, in addition to getting the regular discount for auto shipping.
2. Can I cancel auto shipping?
Yes, you can cancel at any time simply by notifying the company.
3. What happens if my dog food of choice is out of stock?
If your dog food is out of stock, the company will notify you via email, and you will have the opportunity to choose another type of dog food for your next shipment, or to have shipments suspended until your dog food is once again available.
4. Can I change my selection?
You can add or delete items from your subscription at any point before your next shipment is sent out.
5. If I subscribe when the dog food I want is on sale, will that price apply to future shipments?
No. As previously mentioned, dog food prices do fluctuate, and sometimes items are offered “on sale.” However, a reputable subscription dog food company will always make sure that you get the lowest possible price. So, when your dog food comes on sale again, you will get the sale price.
6. Is auto shipping always the best option?
Auto shipping is almost always the best way to go. Auto shipping is probably right for you if:
- Your dog has a certain food that he enjoys and has always eaten;
- Your dog has special dietary needs, and you have to be sure of being able to get a food with a specific combination of ingredients;
- You often forget to re-order your dog food online;
- Your lifestyle is such that you find it’s frequently not convenient to get to a pet food store;
- Getting the lowest possible price is important to you.
On the other hand, auto shipping might not be the best option for you if:
- Your dog is a picky eater, and appreciates it when you switch out brands from time to time;
- Your dog needs a special type of food (perhaps a medical variety that you buy from your veterinarian) that isn’t available online;
- You have access to coupons or local sales that actually offer discounts that are better than those offered by the subscription dog food service.
Clearly, there is much to appreciate when it comes to auto delivery for subscription dog food, and very little that would make it a less than desirable choice.
The Final Word
From everything I’ve been able to learn about subscription dog food, I think the concept has a lot to recommend it. Certainly, a dog food subscription takes a lot of the leg-work out of buying dog food. It also almost always is a better deal than what you’d find if you shopped around at various pet supply stores.
If not for the fact that I feed Janice and Leroy store brand dog food, I’d definitely go with the convenience and cost savings of having their food delivered directly to my door at regular intervals. So, if you’re looking for a specific type of dog food and want to save money, check out subscription dog food companies online, choose the one with the best deals and the best customer reviews, and set up a subscription!