One of the first steps to starting an online supplement store is selecting a fulfillment partner. Choosing an experienced fulfillment company can help you meet customer expectations, grow your business, and gain market share in a crowded industry. By guiding you through the ins and outs of the industry, the perfect supplement fulfillment partner will offer you the right solutions to meet customer expectations and grow your dietary supplement business. Here’s a guide to choosing the right third-party (3PL) supplement fulfillment partner.
What is Supplement Fulfillment?
When you want to bring a new supplement to market, you need some way to distribute it after manufacturing. Supplement fulfillment deals with product distribution and handles operations such as receiving supplement orders, fulfilling those orders, and then shipping them out to customers. But the right third-party (3PL) supplement fulfillment partner won’t stop there. They’ll make sure to provide the best customer support to both you and your customers as well as seamlessly integrate into your existing eCommerce software.
Why Fulfillment Is Important for Supplement Brands
The shift to online sales is proving to be important for all businesses, but the vitamin and supplement industry is especially ripe for eCommerce. The industry is not only growing, but is outpacing the growth of eCommerce as a whole by 12% per year. Those are big numbers considering eCommerce is expected to top $6.5 trillion worldwide by 2023. This makes the industry one of the largest segments of the eCommerce market.
It’s also important to note that those numbers came out before COVID-19 shut down most of the world and left people unable to, or anxious about, leaving their homes to buy products in the brick and mortar stores. Since the pandemic hit, consumers have increasingly become dependent on eCommerce to fill the void that in-person shopping once did. In fact, COVID-19 accelerated eCommerce growth by 4-6 years.
Partnering with a third-party (3PL) supplement fulfillment partner is the most efficient way to break into eCommerce. Having a partner will reduce your business’s time to market and eliminate barriers to entry that would keep other small businesses out of the market entirely.
What to Look For in a 3PL Supplement Fulfillment Company
The ideal candidate will provide you with most of the services that are needed to sell your product and manage customers. Here are some important things to look for in a supplement fulfillment company.
FDA & cGMP compliance
Not only should your supplement fulfillment be FDA registered, but they should also be FDA cGMP compliant. When you turn your supplements over to a 3PL fulfillment partner designated as FDA cGMP compliant, you get more than just warehousing and distribution. You get a guarantee that your products are being properly handled to ensure they will arrive at your customers’ doors quickly and in the best condition possible.
Seamless Integration with eCommerce and ERP Systems
To achieve fast and accurate delivery of your products, the fulfillment partner must quickly and accurately process your orders. The best way to ensure this is to find a fulfillment provider with technology that can integrate directly into your eCommerce system.
A 3PL fulfillment company that seamlessly integrates with your systems is always in sync with your data without the need for error-prone manual data entry. The ideal partner has the orders as soon as they come in and processes these orders automatically. They manage all aspects of your order, including any returns or complaints from customers, for a hands-off approach from you.
Access to Business Intelligence
Analytics and big data are what drive modern businesses forward. Without this information, you are starting behind the curve and without the tools you need to compete. The right supplement fulfillment partner comes with a complete set of analytics data that you can leverage to discover trends and track to improve your marketing efforts.
By approaching your decisions with a data-driven perspective, you’ll be able to better compete in a crowded market. Your 3PL fulfillment company should offer reports that showcase distribution metrics and analytics on sales, orders, shipments, and inventory to help you improve inventory forecasting.
A Variety of Shipping Options
There’s a reason that large eCommerce companies like Amazon rely on multiple shipping carriers. The best price and fastest service often depend on where the package is traveling to and from. The more shipping options available to you, the better the chance you’ll be able to meet customer expectations.
A promise to meet customer expectations is something you are going to want to look out for. The right provider will understand that the public has had their expectations conditioned by services like Amazon Prime. They don’t want to wait a week or more to get their products. Good 3PL fulfillment partners will have deals that allow you to offer fast and affordable shipping to your customers.
A Proven Track Record
Many business owners get caught up in chasing the best prices or the biggest promises and neglect to check the company’s track record. Considering how important your dietary supplement fulfillment choice is to the health of your business, you want to get it right the first time.
A reputable 3PL fulfillment company has years of proven experience as well as staff that is trained and knowledgeable. The company should have staff for all aspects, including call center specialists, fulfillment operators, and technical staff. We recommend that you ask for customer references and visit the facility to make sure they hold their promises.
Paragon Is Amazon-Friendly
Getting your product on Amazon is nearly as vital as finding the right fulfillment service. We’ve already discussed how the supplement industry is growing faster than eCommerce as a whole. What we didn’t discuss is that 77% of online supplement sales go through Amazon. If you are looking to make a name for your company and maximize profits, you’ll need a supplement contract manufacturer that supports Amazon Fulfillment, like Paragon Laboratories.
Paragon Laboratories is an Amazon-Friendly contract manufacturer. We work with you to develop your supplement, and Amazon to make sure your supplement is ready for eCommerce. Our extensive experience working with Amazon ensures that your product will never have any problems meeting the following requirements:
- Complying with all state, local, and federal laws
- Complying with Amazon’s labeling requirements
- Ensuring compliance with all FDA regulations
- Dealing with expiration date and lead time requirements
Despite the explosive growth, eCommerce is still hyper-competitive. Getting ahead of that competition means picking a partner that will produce a product that customers will love and trust and give you the tools you need to succeed. As your partner, Paragon will work to ensure your product and online supplement store offers the best experience possible to your customers. Contact us today to learn more about how we support your Amazon fulfillment needs.