Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review: MrChewy.com!


I was thrilled to be asked last week to do a review of MrChewy.com, an online dog and cat food website.

From what I hear, Mr. Chewy is a pretty popular guy and many bloggers have met him already.  But, if you don't know the basic facts about Mr. Chewy, here they are:
  • They boast a selection of 70+ dog and cat food brands
  • They offer free shipping on orders over $49 
  • They donate to pet charities like Best Friends Animal Society and Bide-A-Wee for every new customer referred
  • They will gladly accept items back up to 1 year (365 days) since the date of sale.
Here are some of my thoughts on my shopping experience on MrChewy.com.  I was given a $50 gift certificate to use to buy items in exchange for my review, and that is the only way in which I was compensated for this review.

Site Layout
The site layout is plain and clean, with no advertisements and simple menus.  From the second you log on to the page, you can tell that MrChewy is clear in their focus to serve dog and cat owners.  I think the narrower focus is a good thing - companies that try to cater to every type of animal couldn't possibly stock a large array of brands and items.

They have lots and lots of different sorting options, ranging from sorting items by brand to sorting them by the form of the food (dry, canned, etc.).  This is definitely appreciated, as there would have been NO way for me to navigate through the 70+ brands without sorting them all different ways as I decided what I wanted to splurge on.

I would have liked to see an option for sorting by main ingredient or protein source, but I accomplished what I wanted just as easily by entering "duck" in the search bar.  Up popped all of the duck-containing products on the website.

The verdict? No major complaints about the site layout.  Lots of menus for sorting things is essential when so many different items are stocked. I would welcome seeing additional optional sorting menus as well.


Product Offerings
Now, let's get to the meat and potatoes (no pun intended) of what Mr. Chewy sells.  There is a lot of stuff on there.

My goal was to buy lots of different things to try rather than taking the easy way out and stocking up on Marge's or Layla's food.  I was pretty successful in that regard, because of the six items I purchased, five were things I had never tried before.. mostly because many of them aren't carried consistently in the pet stores here.  

After several hours of perusing (yes, I am a VERY careful shopper), I decided to buy the following products:
  • PureBites Freeze Dried Duck Treats
  • Stella & Chewy Carnivore Crunch Duck, Duck, Goose Flavor Cat and Dog Treats
  • Sojos Good Dog Treats, Blueberry Cobbler Flavor
  • Stella & Chewy Freeze Dried Chicken Patties
  • Nature's Variety Instinct Grain-Free Duck & Turkey Dry Dog Food
  • Merrick Wishbone Treat
The first four aren't carried in the pet stores I frequent (and I live in NYC, for goodness sake, so I can't imagine my rural readers see a lot of these brands).  The fifth is carried sparingly (and when it is carried, it's EXTREMELY expensive), and the sixth item I purchased with the last few dollars of my gift certificate.

Overall, their selection of brands is pretty exhaustive.  They stock lots and lots of high-end kibbles, including Orijen, Taste of the Wild, Nature's Variety, and Wellness.  I was tempted to buy and try a lot of them. They also carry some dehydrated raw products from Stella & Chewy and The Honest Kitchen.  These are all well known, well respected brands, and I was excited to get to try them.

The treat selection is endless.  Zuke's, Natural Balance, and lots of gourmet/raw brands I had never heard of before.  I left the site wishing $50 could buy it all!

The prices on all of this stuff were very competitive, some of them beating the pet store prices by a pretty significant margin.

As I continued browsing, I did see some supermarket brands... Iams, Beneful, Pedigree.. even a couple of products made in China.  I didn't appreciate that these brands were being sold alongside their much-higher-quality counterparts.  This made me question the focus or mission of MrChewy.com a little bit.  I understand that their goal is to have a large selection of brands, but if they dropped the crummy brands and let the supermarkets handle those, perhaps they could have an even larger supply of high-quality foods.  Maybe they could consider stocking pre-made frozen raw and not just dehydrated raw (since I can't find frozen raw in ANY of the stores around here).  I'm sure those who live in rural or secluded areas and want to feed their pets high-quality diets would really appreciate another online buying option.

Still, virtually every large pet food company sells this type of stuff.. so I certainly wouldn't hesitate to order from them because of it.  I am a careful consumer and check the ingredients and country of origin of everything I buy for my pets, regardless of what site it comes from, and I urge everyone to do the same.

My verdict on product choices? There's tons to choose from, including lots of top-notch brands and a plethora of different treats, but I think Mr. Chewy needs to drop the stuff that's packed with corn and fillers and can be picked up at just about any store.  Replace the supermarket foods with even more offerings in grain-free and raw diets and the site will have a much clearer focus.  

Product Information/Options
I absolutely loved being able to read the ingredients of just about any product right on the product page on MrChewy.com.  This is particularly useful for people like me, who own animals with specific diet needs (Layla, I'm talking about you!!!!).  It allowed me to reasonably narrow down which products I was interested in buying without having to go to the company websites.

The "Mr. Chewy's Recommendations" widget just underneath the product info was a nice touch, too.  On a website so big, it can be easy to miss some of the products similar to the one you're looking at.  In fact, I bought the Stella & Chewy's Chicken Patties after seeing them on the Recommendations widget while looking at another item.

There are also lots of reviews from customers, which a lot of pet food sites lack.  I'm not sure whether this reflects positively on Mr. Chewy, its customers, or both, but I appreciated it.

One bone I had to pick with the website was that the product information itself was often incomplete.  I, personally, would have appreciated being able to see which country each product was made in, since I do not feed my animals any products manufactured in China.  I could have sworn that I saw something that read "Product of China" on one of the item pages, but I then never saw it again.

I also found that some products were miscategorized or incompletely categorized on the site.  For example, there are some foods and treats that are appropriate for both dogs and cats, but I only found them under the dog food and treat menus, despite the fact that the product name clearly reads "For Dogs and Cats."  I saw probiotic product clearly described as being helpful for digestive health listed under "Calming" supplements, which led me to not buy it because I wasn't sure exactly what it was.

Lastly, though I wanted to try a couple of different canned cat foods for delicate little Layla, I did not order any, because they only came in bulk sizes.  I suppose this is part of Mr. Chewy's mission, to be a continuous supplier of dog and cat food to its customers (hence their repeat delivery options), but I thought it was worth a mention.

The verdict? I like the ingredients list, product recommendations, and customer reviews.  Actual organization of products needs work, and I think the product descriptions can be beefed up a bit, with countries of origin added for all products in the interest of full disclosure.



Shipping
I ordered my items the night of March 27. I received my order March 29.  So, they kept their promise of quick delivery times - all for free (since, even though I had a $50 gift certificate, shipping is free on orders over $49).

So, no complaint there whatsoever.  I'm super inpatient about getting things quickly, so I was happy to get my order that fast!

The verdict? Shipping speed from PA to NY was very quick, as promised.


Now comes the really fun part - getting to try out all of our stuff :)


Over all, I really enjoyed my shopping experience on MrChewy.com and am very grateful that I was given the opportunity.  The selection was huge, prices competitive, and the shipping times were great.

I think I'll use them occasionally for food and treat orders, especially because shipping is free on larger orders, since many of the products they carry are not found in all of the stores here (particularly, the raw foods).  However, I don't plan on exercising their multiple shipments option, since I'm OK with going to the store if I need to in a pinch (I live in New York City, after all - the store's about a half mile away!).  I urge you all to check them all out if you haven't already, particularly if you live in an area where some of the better brands might be hard to find.

Thanks for the experience, Mr. Chewy!

(Disclosure: I was given a $50 gift certificate with which to buy products.  This review is based off of this experience.  I was compensated in no other way for my review).

6 comments:

Sue March 29, 2012 at 9:25 PM  

I find the Mr Chewy staff very helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions, I'm sure they'd like to hear them. We used them a couple times but then they raised the prices over the local price. We like to spend locally when possible so for now we'll order only hard to find treats.

Two French Bulldogs March 29, 2012 at 11:26 PM  

We Chewy really rocks!!
Benny & Lily

Jo's World March 30, 2012 at 2:47 AM  

A good, well thought out review, Sam!

My local pet food store has a great selection and they will deliver to me at no cost, so right now that isn't an issue for me, but two years ago it would have been a welcome answer.

Cheers,
Jo, Stella and Zkhat

Bassetmomma March 30, 2012 at 2:14 PM  

Great review! Everybody loves Mr. Chewy! :)

Kathy April 2, 2012 at 6:22 PM  

Absolutely thorough and well thought out and balanced review. Really like your suggestion of including country of origin. It is strange when the cheap food is so easy to find that mr Cheney would also include those....but I sure like being able to get origins. Did you like the solos blueberry?

LauraK April 4, 2012 at 8:01 AM  

I have yet to order from them, but we will be ordering our new cat food from them because of the price and free shipping. It is also nice that we don't have to drive all over town for it! What a fun website to review for you- they have a great selection! I'm sure your animals were excited to receive their package :)

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