Shipping Vitamins and Dietary Supplements for Your Ecommerce Business
March 13, 2020
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The ecommerce health and wellness market is booming. Vitamin and supplement sales have increased by 40% in the last year — and ecommerce is playing a big role. Online vitamin and supplement purchases are growing at a rate 12% faster than the overall ecommerce average. It seems like there are always new supplements coming to market and gaining popularity; it’s no wonder that the online market is growing quickly to keep up.
However, with an increase in market size comes increased competition. New players are constantly entering the market, especially online where barriers to entry are relatively low. Consumers are finding themselves with nearly unlimited options for vitamins and supplements on-demand. If you want to capture their attention and loyalty, you need to go above and beyond consumer expectations.
One way to ensure that your online vitamin and supplement store offers the best experience possible is by partnering with an experienced third-party logistics (3PL) provider. An experienced 3PL will know the ins and outs of the industry and be able to offer you the right fulfillment solutions to meet customer expectations and grow your vitamin and supplement business.
What to look for in a vitamin and supplement 3PL
Choosing a 3PL to outsource your fulfillment isn’t easy, especially in the world of vitamins and supplements. Keeping track of expiration dates, monitoring inventory levels in real-time, and ensuring seamless order processing are likely on the forefront of your mind. Along with those things, the right 3PL for your vitamin and supplement business will do the following:
- Automate shipping and fulfillment for your online store.
- Provide data you can leverage to discover trends.
- Meet customer expectations around deliveries.
1. Automate order fulfillment for your online store
Rather than having to manually send orders to your 3PL, look for an order fulfillment provider whose technology integrates with your online store with just a few clicks. This means that orders are automatically sent from your ecommerce platform or marketplace (such as Shopify, WooCommerce, or eBay) to your 3PL’s fulfillment center.
This helps speed up the retail fulfillment process, making sure that your customers’ supplement and vitamin orders are processed, picked, packed, shipped, and delivered as quickly as possible.
“We offer subscription orders on our site with the choice of delivery every 30, 45, or 60 days. ReCharge and ShipBob work very well together for this.”
Michael Peters, VP of E-Commerce Operations at TB12
Part of automating the fulfillment process includes a two-way push of data between your ecommerce store and your fulfillment provider’s software. This two-way push includes tracking information, order details, inventory levels, and ship option mapping.
The 3PL’s technology should be able to automatically select the carrier, service, and even fulfillment center that can ship each order to your customer in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Once an order has shipped, the 3PL’s system can automatically send confirmation back to your ecommerce platform, which in turn will forward tracking information to your customers.
Overall, automating the ecommerce fulfillment process provides a better customer experience and gives your team more time to focus on growing your vitamin and supplement business.
“From day one, I felt like ShipBob was a partner on our team. Having confidence in scaling fulfillment is hypercritical for us. With ShipBob, we find comfort in knowing we can scale and have orders fulfilled in a quick manner.”
-Tim Fink, Co-Founder of EnduroSport
2. Provide data you can leverage to discover trends
As mentioned before, the supplement industry is rapidly changing, with new products and trends emerging constantly. It’s important that you not only stay on top of industry trends but trends in your own sales and customers as well.
The right 3PL for your vitamin and supplement store will provide in-depth inventory reports and analytics that allow you to see which products seem to resonate with which customers, and tailor your marketing and manufacturing accordingly.
Approaching ecommerce supply chain decisions from a data-driven perspective can help you compete in a crowded market. Your 3PL’s software should offer reports that showcase both past performance, as well as help you improve inventory forecasting.
Distribution metrics and analytics on sales, orders, shipments, and inventory allow your business to identify trends, pinpoint areas of improvement, and celebrate success.
3. Meet customer expectations around deliveries
With 73% of shoppers expecting affordable, fast shipping, meeting customer expectations around delivery speed and cost is vital to your success as an ecommerce merchant. Today’s customers expect Amazon Prime-level shipping wherever and whenever they shop online. Working with the right 3PL can help you offer 2-day shipping to your customers at an affordable price.
“Customers get accustomed to a certain service level at a low price — often free — and want it faster over time.”
-Michael Peters, VP of E-Commerce Operations at TB12
One way to offer faster, more affordable shipping options to your customers who purchase your vitamins and supplements is by distributing inventory across multiple fulfillment or distribution center locations. If your customers are geographically distributed across the country, we recommend choosing a 3PL with fulfillment centers in or near major cities across different regions of the US.
“We now save a lot of money and ship faster based on distributed inventory. So far, we are shipping out of two of ShipBob’s fulfillment centers. We use the locations that optimize and reduce the distance traveled to get our products into our customers’ hands faster.”
-Lindsay Louise, Fulfillment & Retail Manager at Synchro
This puts your inventory closer to your customers, meaning you can offer affordable 2-day ground shipping for customers in surrounding areas instead of only offering costly expedited air shipping.
ShipBob’s vitamin and supplement fulfillment services
ShipBob offers best in class supplement fulfillment services for ecommerce businesses looking to scale. Their automated order management systems along with their network of fulfillment centers strategically placed around the country allow them to provide unrivaled vitamin and supplement fulfillment.
“50% of my time spent was packing boxes. Not only that, but it was a constant interruption. I would sit down to do an email marketing campaign, have to attend to new orders, and completely lose my train of thought and flow. I spent about 3 minutes per order on fulfillment. I almost didn’t want orders to come in. ShipBob was the exact solution I was looking for.”
Leonie Lynch, Founder & CEO of Juspy
Need help with vitamin and supplement fulfillment? Request a pricing quote from ShipBob to see if we’d be a good fit for your business.
Along with doing everything mentioned in the previous section, ShipBob also offers the following supplement fulfillment services.
Customers expect fast shipping. Some 3PLs offering outsourced supplement fulfillment are only able offer 2-day shipping to regions near their fulfillment center (singular). ShipBob’s network of fulfillment centers (plural) allows ecommerce companies to distribute their inventory around the country, thus providing fast 2-day shipping to more of your customers.
“With ShipBob, we are able to offer 2-day shipping via ground to 80% of our customer base, which is much cheaper than expedited air.”
Lindsay Louise, Fulfillment & Retail Manager at Synchro
ShipBob believes in the value of growing your companies brand. That’s why we don’t stick our name and logos all over YOUR packaging. You have the option to use your own custom packaging when shipping with us. Of course, you can also use our free plain brown packaging if you’d like.
If you’re looking to outsource your supplement fulfillment, you’re likely already using at least one ecommerce software. ShipBob’s cloud based fulfillment software seamlessly integrates with the top ecommerce softwares like Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and more! Click here for a full list of our partners.
“For our ecommerce tech stack, we use ShipBob, Klaviyo, Shopify Plus, Recharge, and Gorgias. What I love is how they all work together to manage communications and the customer experience in a streamlined way.”
-Michael Peters, VP of E-Commerce Operations at TB12
ShipBob allows you to quickly monitor your inventory with our state of the art inventory management platform. Whether you need to look at trends in customer behavior, or take a high level view of your inventory, our inventory management dashboard can do it all.
Shipping vitamins and supplements FAQs
Here are a few of the most common questions when it comes to shipping vitamins and supplements:
1. Can supplements be shipped internationally?
Yes, but there are restrictions. If shipping from the US, any supplement that is not labeled in English or does not have FDA-approved labeling cannot be shipped internationally. Also, any supplement that has been issued a Consumer Safety Advisory Warning cannot be shipped.
2. Do you need a license to sell supplements online?
Supplement manufacturers are legally bound to meet all rules and guidelines set by the FDA under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act 1994 (DSHEA). If you plan to create your own supplement formulas and manufacturer them independently, you will need to obtain certification and insurance.
However, if you work with a supplement manufacturer that is already certified and meets FDA requirements, you may forgo the need for licensing completely.
3. Is it legal to sell supplements online?
Yes! As long as you meet FDA’s rules to avoid violations. It’s also recommended that you consult a business lawyer before selling your supplements online. Be sure to market your supplements with accurate information and do not make any false claims.
All supplements sold online and in store must be marked with the following disclaimer: “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
Learn more about choosing the right 3PL
If you’re shipping vitamins and supplements for your ecommerce business, choosing an experienced 3PL can help you meet customer expectations, grow your business, and gain market share in a crowded industry. Using the criteria discussed in this blog post can help you find a 3PL that you trust to handle every part of the fulfillment process for your online supplement store inside FDA-approved warehouses.
To learn more about choosing a 3PL, download “How to Choose a 3PL for Your Ecommerce Business.” This guide goes into more detail on the questions your business should ask a potential third-party fulfillment provider to make sure you find a partner that is a great fit for your business.