Staci Americas Blog

Tips on Order Fulfillment of Supplements and Vitamins

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In 2022, the market size for online vitamin and dietary supplement sales grew to $29 billion. This reflects an average growth rate of 16.8% per year within the industry between 2017 and 2022. With the anticipated growth this year and beyond, you need a fulfillment partner that can help you keep up with volumes ‒ and ensure the most efficient warehousing and shipping solutions.  

Here are a few considerations for best-practice order fulfillment of supplements and 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-expired, first-out (FEFO) policies in the warehouse for order fulfillment of supplements.

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.


Ensure climate-controlled warehousing

Individuals who purchase vitamins are looking for health benefits. They expect the supplements they purchase to be safe and effective. Delivering on that expectation starts with good storage practices.

Do any of your products require temperature control for warehousing and/or shipping? Many supplements are fine when stored at “room temperature.” But others – soft gels, gummies and oils, for example – may require storage and shipping within a specific temperature range, especially during summer months in hot climates. Make sure your 3PL’s fulfillment centers can accommodate those requirements.


Employ Automation Technologies for Fulfillment of Supplements

Since the market for vitamins and supplements is growing at a record pace, 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.

If warehouse automation is a good fit for your vitamin and supplement fulfillment processes, you may consider some of these popular automation technologies:

  • Box erectors
  • Automated taping machines
  • Label applicators
  • Pick-to-light picking systems
  • Voice picking systems
  • Warehouse robots and guided vehicles

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 fulfillment of supplements and vitamins 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 dietary supplements and vitamins, 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 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 supplements. 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, so green-friendly fulfillment practices can help set you apart as this market continues to grow. 

The right partner for fulfillment of supplements and vitamins 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, Staci Americas can help you with intelligent carrier routing, last-mile delivery optimization, and zone skipping to reduce freight emissions. Not only is this better for the planet, it’s also better for your bottom line. 


A scalable supplement fulfillment case study

NeoLife markets nutritional supplements. This global direct sales company seeks to create a happier, healthier world through better nutrition. Founded in 1958, the family-owned business managed its own national fulfillment for many years from a single warehouse in Fremont CA, near its San Jose headquarters. This resulted in lengthy 7-10 day transit times to East Coast customers. With sales growing and its warehouse space running out, NeoLife’s operations leaders knew the company needed to scale fulfillment operations to support future growth.

Read the full case study to learn how Staci Americas helped drive a 2–4 day reduction in order-to-delivery cycle time, as well as a 20% reduction in parcel costs.


Order Fulfillment of Supplements Requires the Right Partner

There are myriad factors that can play into how efficient and effective your vitamin and supplement fulfillment practices are. Staci Americas 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!


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