Valued at approximately $133 billion in 2016, the global dietary supplement market is projected to accelerate at a CAGR of 9.6% until 2024. Health-conscious consumers and a considerable shift in lifestyles and eating habits can only push these figures higher.
Selling health supplements online is increasingly popular due to its low cost and high consumer reach model that promises significant profit.
Before we even talk about selling supplements online, let’s take a quick look at the important things to aim for when starting a supplement line – and that comes with its own set of challenges
- Investments in infrastructure
- Setting up a distribution channel
- Understanding and implementing federal and administrative guidelines.
- Setting up a strong customer service infrastructure.
- Putting a comprehensive sales plan in place.
Devising and implementing an effective marketing strategy is the key to the success of your supplement business and focusing on the following aspects can make a huge difference:
- Identify your target audience and their pain areas that you can address. Find out where they go for their information; map their buyer journey to understand their shopping behavior.
- Design a cost-effective customer acquisition model.
- Perform a comprehensive competitor analysis. It will make your product stand out in the market.
- Base your formulation process on the insights from all the analytics that come before this.
- Identify the right supplement manufacturer with relevant experience, expertise and
- Design compliant, quality and eye-catching label and packaging.
- Decide on short, relevant and unique brand and supplement names.
- Work on an effective supplement marketing plan — leverage influencers, fans and social media, etc.
- Work on an effective fulfillment plan.
- Create a sales strategy and pricing structure and start selling. Your brand and marketing should be effective enough to make your supplements stand out in the crowd and create a strong online presence.
The kind of customer experience you offer can also give you a competitive edge and considering minute details can go a long way:
- Quick loading of the site on a mobile device and a computer is the first desirable experience you can offer your clients.
- Then comes the ease of navigation and site search.
- A picture is worth a thousand words - and it is especially true for online shopping!
- Less is often more – too much text, images or videos can clutter customer’s screen and distract them from making a purchase.
- According to experts, customer reviews are trusted 12 times more than a marketing piece. Studies have revealed that 86% of consumers check reviews before buying, while 56% specifically seek out websites with reviews.
- Make it easy for your customers to contact you. Offer multiple contact channels. In case you want customers to sign up for email, make it obvious.
- Follow up immediately. Make it more personal than just a sales pitch.
- Make the check-out process as simple as possible.
Quality holds utmost importance, as, a high-quality and dependable product builds brand awareness and grows customer-base.
When it comes to creating your product, working with a contract supplement manufacturer is more advantageous than attempting to create your product on your own. It’s important for you to know that dietary supplement products need to be manufactured in accordance with guidelines mandated by the FDA.
When selecting a contract supplement manufacturer, be sure to ask how long they’ve been in business and confirm that they manufacture their products in facilities that are GMP Certified. Aside from the legalities, you’ll save a significant amount of money on machinery and infrastructure by partnering with a manufacturer.
Additionally, most supplement manufacturers these days provide turnkey solutions including:
- Labeling and packaging design
- Order fulfillment
In an industry where a broad range of factors like the complexity of formulation, order size, raw materials availability and more, dictate the amount of lead time, contract supplement manufacturers are convenient partners.
Selling Supplements Online
How to Sell Nutritional Supplements Online?
There are a variety of ideas for accomplishing this:
- Form an affiliation with a larger nutritional supplement company to sell their products.
- Utilize an auction site for selling supplements.
- Alternatively, you can build your own website for nutraceutical selling. There are a range of online store builders available in the market that can help you build your own website easily with just an internet connection and a great business idea. Some of them are Shopify, Wix, BigCommerce, Wordpress, SquareSpace, Weebly and many more.
- Leverage the e-commerce boom - Sell your supplements on online retailing sites like Amazon, eBay, etc.
- Become a direct-marketing supplements company distributor and let them create a site for you.
How Do I Sell CBD Supplements Online?
How can an aspiring or current dietary supplement brand owner, like yourself, legally make the most of the burgeoning CBD market opportunities that have been created by the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill? We asked our internal team and several external industry experts for their opinion on the subject and based on their feedback, we created the following infographic:
Why Making and Selling Your Own Supplements Online is Profitable?
- You don’t need to invest in a brick and mortar store.
- Online channels are not bound by limitations like time and are available to their customers 24 x 7.
- Online channels are easier and cheaper to maintain and the revenue earned through them continues to rise.
Legal/Regulation Issues: Legal Compliance for Selling Supplements Online
Taxes - A business's tax consultant can handle tax implications that arise out of online sales.
International Sales - While working with international markets, you need to check the product compliance with the country’s laws concerning imported products, customs, sanitation and other important factors. A business attorney who is familiar with the country’s market can help you check the regulations that must be met.
The process of importing from other countries into the USA involves prior consultation with the quarantine department, preparation of import notification documents, arrival of goods, important notifications, quarantine inspection testing (as required, as product should pass testing to be allowed into the country), issuing of the receipt of custom clearance, and domestic distribution.
Partnering with a cGMP manufacturing facility that can supply the necessary quality documents can help you secure international distribution.
Do You Need a License to Sell Supplements Online?
With an increasing number of Americans taking dietary supplements each year, nutraceuticals are subject to comprehensive regulations to safeguard quality and safety.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stringent regulations for selling dietary supplement products under the Supplement Health and Education Act 1994. As regulations applied to dietary supplements differ from those applicable to conventional drugs and foods products, supplement manufacturers are legally bound to meet all the rules and guidelines set up by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act 1994 (DSHEA) and FDA.
If you plan to create your nutritional formulas and manufacture your supplements on your own, you need to obtain you own certifications, additional insurance and may want to consult a business attorney beforehand.
Alternatively, you can go through a supplement manufacturer that is already certified and the required resources for manufacturing and labeling your line of supplements or your nutraceutical brand. This allows you to completely forego the need for licensing and logistics.
Rules of Selling Supplements Online
- Misbranded or adulterated dietary supplements and ingredients are prohibited from being marketed. Manufacturing firms are responsible for the safety evaluation and correct labeling of products before marketing them.
- Post its introduction into the market, the responsibility for taking action against any adulterated or misbranded dietary supplement lies with the FDA, and they don’t take even the most minor slip-up lightly. FDA actively sends out warning letters to companies that mislabel their products – intentionally or unintentionally. In the years 2016, 2017 and 2018, FDA sent out 312, 219 and 226 warning letters respectively to various organizations for misbranding their products. The numbers speak a lot!
- In the US, you need to abide by the laws and regulations for selling the supplements and also adhere to their manufacture and labeling guidelines.
- Accurate labeling of supplements is imperative to avoid violations. Making false claims should be avoided as by doing so, you violate the regulations set by the Federal Trade Commission.
- Under DSHEA, the onus of determining whether the ingredient is a new dietary ingredient and notifying the FDA about it lies with the manufacturers and distributors who are responsible for proving the safety of the new ingredient.
What is Allowed to be Claimed on a Supplement You Sell Online?
If you own a supplement business, label and packaging design should be your highest priority. FDA does not allow any misleading statements. You cannot claim that your product will help your client achieve a certain thing unless you can back it up by conducting relevant scientific studies and trials.
You would be surprised by the exhaustive research and study that the FDA conducts around ingredients. As a result of this research, they allow certain claims on certain ingredients like saw palmetto, fiber, etc., and say no to others. There are three different types of claims - health claims, nutrient claims and function/structure claims. Please check out the FDA website for more information on the claims that are allowed. Check out this infographic for the top things to remember when designing FDA-compliant label.
Another safe alternative is partnering with a company that has cGMP warehousing, distribution, customer support and sales systems in place. That way, you can completely focus on customers and drive more demand.
Selling Supplements on Amazon
A product can taste success only when it reaches its target audience. Amazon, with its reputation for selling anything and everything, offers you the farthest reach, the biggest online platform to sell your supplements.
In spite of the growing competition on Amazon, data reveals that it is still one of the best places for your supplements to be found and bought. Third party sellers contribute to about 50% of sales on Amazon. In 2016, Amazon shipped over two billion third-party items and in 2018, around one million small and medium-sized US businesses sold their products on the site. After all, who doesn’t want to take advantage of the tremendous reach and influence of the brand name!
Without a strong digital presence and a good e-commerce platform setting in place, starting any business is a difficult option. Sell your supplements on Amazon for a wide customer-reach and ever-increasing profits.
How to Sell Supplements on Amazon?
To start selling your supplements on the Amazon Marketplace, all you have to do is:
- Sign up to be an Amazon seller - You need to set up an account.
- Know all you can about Amazon’s dietary supplement policies.
- Learn the basics of fulfillment by Amazon.
- Get started!
Managing accounts on Amazon demands time as well as knowledge on the part of the seller as it has specific requirements for its marketplace. Marketers are also urged to publish authentic content, including product reviews, on their pages - trying to cheat the system by using "black hat" tactics could have catastrophic consequences.
Leverage Social Media: Selling Supplements on Other Social Platforms
Today, leveraging social media is as important as having a great website, smooth checkout experience and a solid hold on search engine optimization and marketing! Now, with people spending a significant amount of time on and within social networks built around their interests, even the buying process has transformed. It is now more based on customers coming across things within the experience they have already created for themselves. Using social media effectively can be the magic key to your supplement business success. Here are a few tips for selling supplements on social platforms.
- Involvement of fans and community can go a long way. Remember that 80% profit comes from the 20% loyal customer-base.
- Leverage stars and influencers, especially the rising ones. It is a way to increase your customers with their loyal followers.
- Identify a specific audience for your product.
- Look outside the obvious markets; you might hit the jackpot!
- Think like your target audience, make it theirs and turn it into something fun.
Here are a few handy social media platform-specific tips:
How to Sell Supplements on Instagram?
- Sell directly through shoppable posts.
- Add a CTA in your Instagram bio that links to an Instagram landing page.
- Preview upcoming supplements in your posts to pique interest.
- Add your customer’s photos – let them sell your supplements for you!
How to Sell Supplements on Facebook?
- Focus on not over-promising the health benefits of your supplements.
- Aim to get page likes first. Use a campaign to create a following for your page.
- Create half a minute videos about your supplements with Facebook Live. It plays automatically when people see your video post and help you get more followers.
How to Sell Supplements on eBay?
- Choose your words wisely.
- Start your auction at night. It has been observed that evening times are when more users are online on eBay.
- Ship smartly and don’t inflate the costs.
How to Sell Supplements on Pinterest?
- If you’re already an e-commerce platform user - Shopify, Demandware, BigCommerce, etc. - you can use Buyable Pins – an easy to spot and simple way for pinners to purchase.
- Connect Pinterest’s Rich Pins code to your website and Pinterest account. It makes it easier for both – you and your customers to pin your supplements.
- Use Promoted Pins – purchase ads based on awareness, engagement - drive traffic to your website.
- Utilize keywords effectively on Pinterest. Use them from your social media/e-mail marketing and search engine optimization. Test them by looking them up on Pinterest. Also, check for additional keywords that are used on the pins you get as a result and add them to your list.
Some general tips:
When devising your selling strategy on online platforms-Remember, not every social network is going to be a fit.
- Identify your customer-type and select the social network accordingly.
- Create original and engaging content. There is no harm in re-posting or tweeting third party material if it’s worth sharing. Bear in mind that the right type of material plays a crucial role.
- It is good to always be updated about and aware of expectations and norms of the community - opening a personal account can do the trick.
- Build your network with set timely goals. Search relevant social sites and find people using relevant keywords or discussing supplements. Start contributing by responding to their questions, sharing or retweeting them. By the nature of social media, it is usually friends of your customers who can wield the most influence. If they like what you have to say, they can do some selling for you.
When it comes to selling via social media, networking is more important than leads. If you take time to listen to what people are saying, you can strike meaningful conversations with the right people and offer just what they want at that moment. Winning the hearts of your audience always offers you an upper hand in the fierce competition of selling supplements online!
Selling supplement online is the next biggest and perhaps the most crucial process to put in place after setting up your own supplement line. Fulfilling the legalities and finding out the most profitable and hassle-free selling option online are the prime challenges in this phase. With a careful review of our guide and considering various factors, you can decide what suits you the best!
About the Author: Andrew Goldman
Andrew Goldman is the Vice President of Marketing for NutraScience Labs. In this role, he leverages his 10+ years of experience to develop cutting-edge initiatives for our firm.