Some companies think they face unusually rigorous fulfillment challenges. Others, like nutraceutical firms, truly do.
As evidence, consider these seven essential ingredients that we often see in most nutraceutical fulfillment RFPs – along with our take on why.
1. FDA-registered food-grade warehouses that are superior-rated by AIB International
Any time you’re shipping ingestible or topical products (which pretty well describes most nutraceuticals) you can’t afford to be lax about housekeeping. While many warehouses say they have good sanitation measures, fulfillment centers that are FDA-registered and have passed rigorous food safety and sanitation inspections by AIB International can guarantee it. Both designations require higher standards for maintenance, cleanliness, and process documentation.
Among other things, the employees who work at these facilities are more carefully trained in storage and handling practices that will help protect nutraceuticals from spoilage and contamination. These facilities are also subject to more frequent independent inspections.
2. Lot control expertise
Many industries appreciate the ability to link every item they sell back to its place and date of origin and track it all the way to its individual end user. But it’s especially critical in the nutraceutical field, where threats of contamination, co-mingling and counterfeiting are not uncommon and even small incidents can trigger a recall, tarnish an image, or negatively impact a certification.
Regardless of why a product has been compromised, nutraceutical companies must be able to isolate and weed out the bum steers quickly – and to notify customers who have already received those products ASAP. That’s much easier to do if they’re working with nutraceutical fulfillment partners who are already proficient in lot control.
3. FEFO or FIFO capability
The expiration or best-by clock is always ticking – and ticking quickly – for nutraceuticals.
As a result, finding nutraceutical fulfillment partners that are well-versed in efficient stock rotation practices like First Expired/First Out (making sure the oldest products are used to fulfill orders first) or First In/First Out (making sure the product that has been sitting in the warehouse the longest is used to fulfill orders first) isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have.
Both methods help ensure that older nutraceuticals don’t languish on warehouse racks too long – and that recently produced items don’t get shipped out the door long ahead of items that are nearing their expiration dates.
4. An advanced WMS
Although it’s possible for companies to practice FIFO/FEFO and lot control without the help of systems, fulfillment centers that use robust Warehouse Management Systems can usually give nutraceutical companies a significant leg up in these areas because such systems can capture and monitor things like inventory age and location far better than manual methods.
A good WMS can also drive other efficiencies in the warehouse, including faster and more accurate picking methods to reduce labor costs.
5. Climate control
Many nutraceuticals need to be kept within a certain temperature range in order to ensure optimal freshness and efficacy – and to prevent premature degradation. And that often calls for a nutraceutical fulfillment partner that has climate- or temperature-controlled areas in the warehouse.
While some facilities have such areas already, others may be willing to upfit existing operations – or expand the areas they have – for the right client, so don’t be afraid to ask.
6. Multiple DC locations across the country
Like most online buyers, people who purchase nutraceutical products expect fast and inexpensive delivery service. And when there’s not a pandemic in effect, this usually means getting orders in their hands in two days or less.
That’s tough to do when fulfilling all orders from a single distribution center, so many nutraceutical firms elect to decentralize distribution, working with logistics partners that operate a nationwide fulfillment network, with warehouses in every region of the country. In addition to shrinking order-to-delivery cycles, these multi-facility networks can drastically reduce shipping costs by putting product closer to customers and avoiding high-zone parcel moves.
7. Value-added capability
In the highly-competitive nutraceutical field, little extras like custom packaging or including a small gift (such as another product sample) with an order provide ways to differentiate your brand. But not all fulfillment partners are able and willing to customize the pack-out process to accommodate special requests. Certainly it’s not happening at Amazon’s logistics arm, Fulfillment by Amazon. So if you are evaluating fulfillment partners, make sure they have the capabilities to perform value-added services.
Can Your Fulfillment Operation Scale?
Americans are becoming more health-conscious and that’s why the nutraceutical market is projected to grow at almost 10% over the next seven years, according to Grand View Research. To make sure your fulfillment operation can scale to support your growth, consider talking to Amware Fulfillment. We ship 50,000 orders each day in the Health and Wellness sector alone to both retailers and consumers, and we’d be happy to discuss your nutraceutical logistics needs.