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Walmart targets millennial shoppers by offering pet care

Julia La Roche

Walmart (WMT) is launching its first online pet pharmacy, the retail giant announced on Tuesday, in a new effort to appeal to millennial shoppers through their fur babies.

Called WalmartPetRx.com, the online health hub for animals expands its current footprint of in-store veterinarian clinics. The new site will offer premium pet foods and prescription medication for cats, dogs, horses, and livestock that treats everything from fleas and ticks to arthritis and lower prices.

"By working directly with veterinarians to receive and fill prescriptions, we’re able to save busy pet parents time,” Kieran Shanahan, Walmart’s senior VP its U.S. eCommerce unit, wrote in a blog post. That means more time for pet owners to spend with their furry loved ones.

Walmart plans to open 100 in-store retail veterinary clinics over the next 12 months.
Walmart plans to open 100 in-store retail veterinary clinics over the next 12 months.

“And with Walmart’s low prices and free two-day shipping on orders over $35, we’re able to save them money, too," Shanahan added.

For those who prefer a brick-and-mortar experience, Walmart also plans to stock its in-store pharmacies with the top 30 most prescribed pet medications.

Walmart shoppers can buy prescription pet medications at WalmartPetRx.com.
Walmart shoppers can buy prescription pet medications at WalmartPetRx.com.

According to a 2018 report from TD Ameritrade, seven in 10 millennials own a pet—and they shell out big bucks for them. On average, millennial dog owners spend $1,285 per year, while millennial cat owners spend $915, TD’s data found.

Pet food, followed by veterinarian care and vaccinations, garnered most of that wallet-share, the report added.

One of the significant trends among millennial pet parents has been the move toward more health-conscious pet foods. That’s prompted Walmart to increase those offerings, both from its suppliers and its private label brands.

“...We’ve expanded our pet assortment online with more than 100 new pet brands over the last year, including more premium and health-conscious brands like Blue Buffalo, Greenies, and Hill’s Science Diet," Shanahan wrote.

"We’ve also developed more premium and 'free-from' options with our private label brands, Pure Balance, Golden Rewards and Vibrant Life, which offer premium ingredients, like farm-raised chicken, at three-fourths the price,” the executive added.

Walmart, which operates 4,500 stores nationwide, is also bolstering its in-store veterinary clinics. In May and June, nine clinics will open in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with plans to open 100 clinics in the next 12 months.

The clinics will offer vaccines and "minor illness packages and exams" at prices that are 40 to 60% lower.

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.