Around the world, consumers are turning their attention to their health, with 42% of people across six countries reporting that wellness is their number one priority. And that’s led to a surge in demand in the dietary supplements industry.
With impressive growth of over 6%, and an estimated category value rising to $210.3 billion by 2026, this market is set for healthy expansion.
Supplement and wellness ecommerce companies have a specific set of challenges in ecommerce. In this article, we’ll take a look at those challenges in more detail and how to overcome those challenges with the strategies that can help your business thrive.
Challenges for supplement and wellness companies
New brands are entering the health and wellness supplements space all the time and jumping on the current trends (which right now include supplements that are designed for each individual and subscription-based services). But existing supplement businesses are not only competing against new entrants to the market — they are also competing against the service category.
It’s estimated that around 70% of the value of the health and wellness market is currently spent on products (such as supplements), with around 30% being spent on services (coaches, trainers, etc.), according to a survey by McKinsey & Company.
The demand in this market is positive, but it is becoming more competitive. Because of the competition, companies should place emphasis on customer engagement, with a focus on innovation, serving customer needs, anticipating demand and delivering on customer promises for brands to succeed in the long term.
Subscription-based services are growing
An increasing number of wellness supplement businesses are now moving towards a subscription-based model. This brings benefits for both consumers and businesses.
From a consumer perspective, it’s the ultimate convenience — they get their chosen supplements delivered directly to their door, whenever they need them. No missed doses. No trips out to the shops.
From a business perspective, it can help turn what was once a ‘one off’ supplement purchase into more stable and predictable monthly recurring revenue. It also increases loyalty and retention, reducing the likelihood of customers shopping around with other competitors. The increase in loyalty means businesses must deliver on their promises with the right product, delivered at the right time.
Expanding into other sales channels and territories
Another way that many businesses are taking advantage of the current industry trends and protecting themselves against any upcoming shifts in the market is by diversifying their online sales channels and territories. And with 76% of customers expecting the convenience of being able to buy products through social media or marketplaces — this expansion is necessary.
A good thing to note is that for many online marketplaces, supplements are classed as a ‘restricted product type.’ This means that while you can sell health and wellness supplements — you need to abide by strict criteria. Different international markets have differing criteria and requirements about the labeling of supplements and what can and cannot be included in labels and product descriptions.
As a result, different platforms (and even different regions on the same platform) have varying guidelines. Take a look at the difference between the ‘Dietary Supplements’ guidance for Amazon in the US and the ‘Food Supplements’ guidance for Amazon in the UK.
If businesses decide to sell health and wellness supplements internationally, they should have a robust inventory management process in place, to make sure that products being shipped abide by all labeling requirements of the local markets. You want to make sure handling inventory runs smoothly. It’s also important to be able to easily manage product listings across different territories, and to abide by differences in legal requirements for product descriptions for supplements.
Delivering excellence is key
With the health and wellness market becoming increasingly competitive, it’s important that businesses focus on delivering excellence to their customers. Even when customers are on a regular subscription model for their supplements, they shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Modern customers expect fast, reliable delivery that can be tailored to suit their schedules. They also expect transparency on the progress of their order – being able to track the location at any point in time. And if customers do need to return a product, they expect a process that doesn’t involve waiting on hold for customer service. The businesses that are going to succeed and thrive in the health and wellness space are the ones with an automated inventory and order management process.
Automating health and wellness ecommerce operations: a case study
If businesses in the health and wellness sector are looking for growth, they may benefit from investing in proven automation technology to help them scale. One example of a company that did just that is Superfood Market. This brand started as a small part-time business, helping consumers find natural alternatives to their daily essentials. The founder of the business, Gemma, ran the business through eBay and managed all order fulfillment herself.
It was an enjoyable part-time business, with a passionate and loyal community — but it wasn’t scalable. After meeting with the Linnworks team at a Birmingham trade show, Superfood Market began having their orders processed by our commerce technology, and with the power of automation behind them, decided to develop their own ecommerce store.
Gemma says, “That was a pivotal moment. Looking back, that moment was the fork in the road where I decided to chase my dream.”
Fast-forward to today, and Superfood Market is due to hit 2.5 million orders processed through Linnworks across multiple selling channels. The business will soon move into a new 38,000-square-foot warehouse facility. Automating commerce and fulfillment enabled Superfood Market to scale, and the same strategies can work for your business, too.
How automation can help your health and wellness business
Managing multiple sales channels, while also adhering to international guidelines and correctly forecasting demand might sound like a lot to handle. At the same time, you also need to deliver a smooth customer journey that encourages loyalty. Luckily, it’s possible to achieve all this and more, by automating your inventory and order management processes.
Manage products across multiple sales channels
Amazon is one of the biggest vitamin and supplement marketplaces, but you may also decide to list on others including GNC and Vitamin Shoppe. Social media, in particular Instagram, is also a good place to combine marketing with celeb-wellness or influencer trends.
Accuracy of content is also critical when it comes to the health and wellness industry. A business must provide the required information in their product description for a health supplement.
This isn’t an industry where you can set up one product description and roll it out internationally. Operating in the health and wellness supplements sectors needs an advanced, robust solution like Linnworks, that allows retailers to easily manage listings across a wide range of international sales channels, and easily tailor their listings based on the requirements of each country.
Stay on the right side of international guidelines
The health and wellness space can also be complex when it comes to international fulfillment, with each different country having different requirements for the labeling of food or dietary supplements. It isn’t something you want to leave to chance or human error.
With an automated inventory management solution from Linnworks, you have the peace of mind of being able to maintain an accurate picture of your global inventory across the business, and you’re also able to see in real-time the location of stock destined for different locations.
An additional benefit of the real-time nature of automated inventory management is that it also helps businesses to make sure they are not ‘oversold’ as they expand their business into different marketplaces and territories.
Deliver excellence to customers
In increasingly competitive industries like health and wellness, delivering excellence to customers is a critical factor in delivering long-term business success. Using an automated order management system allows businesses to connect their website, marketplaces, warehouses, and logistics partners to ensure that customers can be kept up to date at every stage of their order.
This might include confirmation emails, estimated delivery dates, options to track and rearrange delivery, and post-delivery confirmations. Businesses should also be mindful that an easy returns process is also important for a lot of consumers – in recent Linnworks research, 72% of consumers said they were influenced in their decision to buy based on a retailer’s return process. An automated order management system can make sure the returns process is as seamless as possible for all customers, from all marketplaces.
Use insights to forecast demand
The health and wellness industry can be surprisingly seasonal, with different products seeing popularity in the winter months when people may catch colds more often, and other products being more popular during spring and summer. Use the insights from historical sales data to predict what products will be in demand when, and then create a marketing strategy based on these insights. For example, you can focus your marketing budget on running a paid ad campaign for the products you know are popular during a specific season.
Trends can also be started quickly in the health and wellness space, based on the commentary and recommendations of celebrities, influencers, and social media personalities. It’s important to stay on top of movements in the market so that you can make sure you’ve got enough stock to cope with demand, so you can keep your customers happy.
Grow better, sell better, with Linnworks
The health and wellness sector is currently an exciting space to be operating in, with huge opportunities for growth. On the flip side, there’s a lot of competition and complexity when it comes to the international guidelines for the supplements category.
Linnworks inventory management automation helps simplify the management of your inventory across multiple sales channels and optimize your order fulfillment processes. This helps you gain a competitive advantage while maintaining customer satisfaction at the same time. Create an even more effective strategy by using insights and data analytics to help ensure you’re always ahead of the game.