In 2022, the market for online vitamin and dietary supplement sales is expected to grow to $21 billion, an 8.1 percent year-over-year increase. With the anticipated growth this year and beyond, you need a fulfillment partner that can help you keep up with volumes ‒ and ensure the latest operational practices.
Here are a few considerations for best-practice order fulfillment for vitamins.
Ensure Proper Stock Rotation Protocols
Unlike prescription drugs and OTC medications, the FDA does not require vitamin and dietary supplement manufacturers to include an expiration date on the packaging. Some companies do, however, provide a “best before” date. Vitamins do become less potent and effective over time, so you don’t want aging products sitting in your fulfillment center while the newer products are used to fulfill orders and sent out to retailers and consumers. The right fulfillment partner can help manage first-in, first-out (FIFO) and first-expiring, first-out (FEFO) policies in the warehouse for order fulfillment for vitamins.
Work with a 3PL partner experienced in handling FIFO and FEFO rotation, as well as exceptions and multi-channel routing. For example, it may be fine to ship products to consumers that are within a few months of their “best by” sell date, but bulk shipments and business-to-business (B2B) sales might need to have later “best by” dates so they don’t hit those dates while sitting on store shelves. Your 3PL provider should be able to manage both B2B and DTC (direct-to-consumer) sales channels from the same inventory pool and handle these kinds of exceptions.
Employ Fulfillment Automation Technologies
Since the market for vitamins and supplements is taking off at record speeds, you need fulfillment practices that can handle the additional throughput without sapping your profit. One way to make this happen is through warehouse automation. Of course, there may be parts of your fulfillment process that require careful, manual handling, such as product kitting. But there are likely many fulfillment steps that can be automated to speed order processing and reduce labor costs.
- Box erectors
- Automated taping machines
- Label applicators
- Pick-to-light picking systems
- Voice picking systems
- Automated guided vehicles and robots
Industry Today shared that over 50 percent of a warehouse employee’s day is made up of standing or walking, which, by the way, accounts for most of the injuries that happen in a warehouse every year. Automation technology can free up associates for more challenging tasks that require more skilled hands.
Choose a 3PL partner for vitamin order fulfillment that doesn’t react to volume spikes with a single strategy ‒ more labor. Choose one that will leverage automation to help you grow profitably.
Select the Correct Packaging Type
For online order fulfillment of vitamins and supplements, the shipping packaging you use can make all the difference in how much you spend for both warehousing and shipping. Shipments of vitamins and supplements tend to be smaller and lighter weight. That introduces the potential to ship in polybags versus boxes, since primary packaging for pills and gummies, etc are quite durable.
Just how much could you save shipping in polybags versus boxes? Reducing a package’s shipment from above one pound to below a pound could save your company hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, depending on your shipping volumes. Other bag-versus-box advantages:
- Faster to complete the packaging process ‒ potential for 3.5x productivity lift
- Requires less space to store in the facility
- No filler is required, saving supply costs and labor
- No labels are required if “print-on-bag” technology is used
Overpackaging happens all too often today, including with order fulfillment for vitamins. Even with the addition of dimensional weight pricing, many eCommerce retailers use boxes that are too large and too heavy, which ends up costing them in the long run. You can end up with substantial savings if you slim down your packaging and reduce the total weight.
Don’t Forget About Fulfillment Sustainability
A recent Nielson study found that 90 percent of millennials are willing to pay more for products that are more environmentally friendly or sustainable, and 48 percent of consumers in the U.S. are likely to change their buying practices to limit the impact they have on the environment. This is especially true of health-conscious consumers ‒ like those who buy your vitamins and supplements. There’s an enthusiastic market for sustainable, zero-waste vitamins, and sustainable fulfillment practices can help set you apart as this market continues to grow.
The right fulfillment partner can help you solidify your green credentials in many ways, including:
- Energy-efficient buildings, including motion-activated lighting
- Paperless processes of orders
- Active recycling programs
- Use of eco-friendly packaging materials for both primary and secondary packaging
- Sustainable end-of-life management if supplement products need to be disposed
Plus, Amware Logistics can help you with intelligent carrier routing, last-mile delivery optimization, and zone skipping to reduce transit emissions. Not only is this better for the planet, but it’s also better for your bottom line.
Order Fulfillment for Vitamins Requires the Right Partner
There are a myriad of factors that can play into how efficient and effective your vitamin fulfillment practices are. Amware Fulfillment has broad experience fulfilling orders in the vitamin and supplement industry. Each day, we ship out over 50,000 health and wellness orders and understand the requirements for FDA compliance and organic product shipping compliance.
To learn more, contact our team today!