Tips for Selling Dietary Supplements on Your Website
According to a report published by IBISWorld[i], online sales of dietary supplement and vitamin products have gained momentum in recent years. With a market size of approximately $18.3 billion, the U.S. supplement industry has grown at an average rate of 17.4% between 2015 and 2020.
While I've published numerous articles over the years on this blog that tout the benefits of starting a nutraceutical brand, I've never touched on the topic of selling supplements online -- until now.
Over the next few minutes, I'll discuss why new supplement brand owners should sell off their own website instead of popular platforms like Amazon. I'll also share my tips for creating a top-notch website and address some of the most common questions first-time brand owners have about selling and marketing dietary supplements.
Why Should You Sell Supplements on Your Own Website?
Many brand owners prefer to sell their supplements on their own websites for more than one reason.
Preference for Spending Online
eCommerce sales in the United States have consistently increased year after year. According to a quarterly report published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, consumers spent $601 billion online with U.S.-based merchants in 2019, an increase of nearly 15% compared to the previous year. One would expect (although it is not confirmed as of this writing) that this upward trend will continue in 2020, due in large part to the global COVID-19 pandemic.[ii]
Consumers can quickly and easily order whatever they want with less effort. This makes online shopping an ideal option for most consumers, especially when they are busy, tired, sick, or simply don't feel like leaving the comfort of their homes.
Cost Effective Option for Brand Owners
Selling a product online eliminates several costly expenses such as rent, furniture, cleaning companies, and selling supplies such as cash registers and point of sale systems.
Being Present Wherever Your Target Customer Is
With two-thirds of online purchases completed on either a smartphone or tablet, your audience has the ability to purchase your products anywhere and at any given time.[iii]
Why Should You Sell Your Supplements on Your Website Instead of Amazon?
Full disclaimer - I love Amazon.
This section of my article is not meant to bash Amazon in any way, shape or form. Truth be told, Amazon is an excellent platform for small supplement brands. I can even cite several cases where our customers decided to exclusively sell their products on Amazon and achieved monumental success. Other brand owners we've worked with have built their own websites to attract prospective customers and then send them to Amazon to close the sale.
However, as great as Amazon is, there are also a few advantages to selling products on your own website that I urge all new dietary supplement brand owners to consider:
- You have complete control – from product page design to checkout process.
- You don’t have to face the fierce competition with price wars that is often the case on such platforms where there is no assurance of listing your product on the first page. About 64% shoppers don’t even check beyond the first three search results.
- You can build a better rapport with your customers – resulting in higher customer loyalty and repeat sales.
- Selling off your own website allows you to build your email database faster. There are even plugins you can install on your website that build your lists for you in popular email distribution platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact.
How to Sell Supplements on Your Website
Now that we've addressed Amazon, we can get into the meat and potatoes of this article. Follow these six easy steps to reap the benefits of selling supplements on your website.
Designing Your eCommerce Website
Having an eye-catching and professional website design plays an integral role in guiding your visitors to make a purchase.
Either you can hire a professional designer, which can be a more expensive option, or you can build it yourself with an intuitive website builder.
Here are some of the platforms (in no particular order) that I personally recommend due to their ease of use, the features they offer, and the user experiences they deliver:
I'll close this section with two important website design tips:
- Your website NEEDS to be mobile-friendly.
Remember what I said earlier? Two-thirds of all online purchases are completed on either a smartphone or tablet device. The good news is that all of the platforms I listed automatically convert the desktop version of your website to mobile. Once you become comfortable with your design platform and review your site metrics, I encourage you to adjust your website layout and features based on what the data tells you is and isn't working.
- Don't forget your SSL certificate
An SSL - or secure socket layer - is preferred by most online shoppers, as well as Google, and thus, increases your site's authority in the eyes of the world's largest search engine. Some web hosting plans offer a free SSL certificate, and you can select the provider accordingly.
- BONUS TIP
Your website is a living, breathing document that can be changed over time. What you believe will work may not be accepted by your website visitors and customers. Make a plan and execute it, document what does and doesn't work, and adjust your strategy as time goes on.
Still not convinced? Check out this handy infographic and learn the 8 REASONS why you should be selling dietary supplements on your own website:
Setting Up Your Merchant Account
A merchant account enables credit card payment processing to take place on your website. You can expect your merchant provider to charge a fee for every transaction they process, as well as a percentage of the amount charged.
Additionally, there can be setup fees, monthly fees, statement fees, and more, which need to be factored into any online business budget. It’s a good idea to research various payment options and find the best one as the specific fee structure varies across the merchants.
Here are a few popular credit card merchant processors you may want to investigate:
Sell Dietary Supplements that Meet the FDA's Requirements
According to the FDA, labeling includes all printed, written, and graphic matters on instructions, packaging, product inserts, promotional materials, and also websites. It's critical to have your dietary labels comply with the stringent FDA label requirements. Working with an experienced dietary supplement manufacturer that employs a skilled in-house art department can come in handy in this regard.
Create a Plan for Packing and Shipping Orders
Time is a vital factor in online shopping. You need to devise a system to quickly fulfill orders by working on an efficient supplement delivery strategy. The amount of time customers spends waiting on order can adversely affect customer satisfaction. An efficient shipping system can better prepare you in this case.
You need to also determine where you're going to store your products and how your can pick & pack them as efficiently as possible. Besides warehousing, climate-controlled storage is an important aspect when it comes to vitamins and dietary supplements. The primary reason behind it is the sensitivity of the supplement ingredients towards temperature and humidity. Thus, a GMP certified, temperature-controlled warehouse is a must for securing your supplements in an ideal condition.
Once again, working with a contract supplement manufacturer that offers turnkey warehousing, and inventory management could be quite advantageous.
Promoting your website is crucial for helping people find you, and online marketing enables you to achieve this with some of these measures –
- Buying ads that show up on other sites and search engine results page (PPC advertising)
- Starting accounts on different social media platforms to develop your presence on these platforms
- Building trust and enhancing SEO by creating quality content for your target audience
- Sending promotional offers and marketing emails to your subscribers
- Affiliate marketing
What are Some of the Most Common Questions Brand Owners Have about Selling Dietary Supplements Online?
As someone who has worked in the nutraceutical industry for nearly 15 years, I've had many brand owners ask me questions about selling dietary supplements online. Here are two that I'm asked fairly often:
Do You Need a License to Sell Supplements on a Website?
Under Supplement Health and Education Act 1994, the United States Food and Administration (FDA) has established strict regulations for selling dietary supplements – you need to understand these to make sure you don’t face any legal setbacks while proceeding with your business. As a brand owner, you need to obtain your own certifications, additional insurance and may want to consult a business attorney before starting the manufacturing process. Alternatively, you can work with an experienced contract supplement manufacturer that is knowledgeable about and complies with all industry requirements.
What Types of Nutritional Supplements Can You Sell on Your Website?
You can sell various kinds of supplements on your website including but not limited to:
- Pre - and post-workout supplements
- Cognitive support supplements
- Weight management supplements
- Vision support supplements
- Bone and joint support supplements
Again, I can't stress how important it is to work with your contract supplement manufacturer when it comes to the claims you can and cannot make about your product. Taking a risk and subsequently receiving a warning letter from the FDA can do irreparable harm to your brand.
Final Advice for Selling Supplements on Your Website
Besides the steps to sell supplements from your website, you may find these additional tips to be helpful:
- Target the right visitors. Supplement demand varies with demographics and buying habits. Hence, defining your target audience is most important for online sales success.
- Supplements can increase or decrease in popularity significantly based on new medical research, media coverage, market trends, and seasons. Change your inventory accordingly.
- Make sure to get real testimonials that you can showcase on your website. Create backlinks of the testimonials from major health and fitness websites to your site. It gives credibility to your supplements.
- Partner with renowned supplement order fulfillment and warehousing companies for reliable and timely delivery.
NutraScience Labs would love to learn more about your dietary supplement idea and how we can help you turn it into a reality.
We have over 120 years of contract manufacturing experience and have custom created high-quality capsules, powders, and tablets for more than 2,300 dietary supplement brands. We also offer in-house packaging, labeling, and fulfillment services that can save you time, money, and stress - allowing you go to the market faster with your product.