By Jasmine Glasheen
Things are getting crazy in the health and supplement industry. The so-called retail apocalypse hasn’t forgotten the vitamin industry, as consumers abandon mall-based retailers for small-format and direct-to-consumer brands. Business Insider reports that GNC will close up to 900 stores by the end of 2020 due to declining mall traffic, while the Vitamin Shoppe will close 60-80 stores in the next three years.
But it’s not all bad: direct-to-consumer brands, science-backed independent vitamin businesses, holistic nutrition companies, and start-ups are reaping the benefits of consumers’ move away from mall-based retailers.
Here’s what you need to know if you own or are thinking of opening a health and supplement business, straight from the mouths of two very different nutrition company owners who are making it work.
Build Your Business to Fill a Gap in the Market
The first step in creating a successful health-based business is identifying a gap in the market and building your business to address that gap. For Sean Pena and Lauren Waskewicz, this gap came in the form of the available nutrition supplements in the health and wellness industry.
Sean Pena, Physiotherapist and Trainer at Arete-X says that it’s important to realize that nutritional supplements have different grade levels and the higher the grade clients pay for, the closer they get to pharmaceutical IV quality––which means higher manufacturing costs. “The most accurate way to see what is necessary for the individual is to have blood analysis and have the regiment customized for the person,” Pena says.
“This is not the way most people buy products,” he continues. “Most people go into a vitamin shop or read online, and think they need a particular product. They self-diagnose and create a regiment on their own which may or may not be correct.”
Lauren Waskewicz, Founder and Certified Holistic Nutritionist at Bold Rise, says that her business was founded out the desire to create a simple product that helps people live their best lives. “As a certified Holistic Nutritionist,” Waskewicz says, “I want to help people feel their best from the inside out by creating a simple product that delivers this in just one nutritional scoop. The majority of us don’t have time to make a complicated smoothie consisting of 15 ingredients every day.”
Regularly communicating her passion for the products she carries is an important component of how Waskewicz maintains her success. She says that being professional, honest, real and relatable is key.
“I embody a ‘You can sit with us’ mentality. When I interact with a customer, I want them to trust me and know I support my product 100%. I am extremely passionate about health and wellness and I do my best to show it every day whether that be through social media or in person.”
Repeat Business Starts with Product and Follows with People
Product quality is crucial in any business, but more so in the supplements space. In fact, both Pena and Waskewicz maintain that crying a strong product and being able to communicate that value with customers is key to any health and supplement business owner’s ability to achieve and maintain success.
Pena reports, “Repeat business is generated by having a quality product which helps achieve results. The product speaks for itself and the individual can feel or see the results desired. This is the biggest key to repeat clients. The product must be ethically promoted and have real, positive results which can be measured, felt, or observed visually.”
While Waskewicz agrees that repeat business is product-focused, she also highlights the need for health and supplement businesses to be willing and able to build a community around their brand. “Repeat business is driven by believing in something, finding other people who believe in that, following through on what you say you’re going to do and being authentic to your purpose,” Waskewicz says. “For us, that is creating great products that add ease to being healthy. Products that you want to use every day and that fulfill our brand promise of quality and proven functionality.”
Smart Technology Is Necessary to Round Out the Vision
Vitamin and supplement business owners start with a targeted idea about how to help people lead more fulfilling lives. Technology helps bring this vision into reality, from the moment the idea of a product is conceived, to the marketing and distribution of the finished supplement. Sean Pena reports, “Technology allows me to create new products and improve existing ones. For example, using air to push product into a capsule is a process which does not create heat, which would break down the potency of certain products if they were still packaged though older methods.”
Pena adds, “It (technology) also allows us to research new medical findings concerning the human body, and this enables us to think of new ways to improve existing products, or create new products based on medical findings.”
Waskewicz is focused on how tech platforms help her business communicate its offerings to the customers they serve. “If it wasn’t for technology available to us, we wouldn’t be able to thrive the way we are! We love tools like Shopify, which allows us to build a modern web storefront that gives our customers the confidence they need to shop with us online.”
“Social media platforms like Instagram help us get our message out organically,” she continues, “in an authentic way and allows us to find our tribe. Our group of customers and friends believe what we believe – and we’re here to serve and create for them!”
Waskewitz maintains that retail ecosystems and integrations have allowed her holistic nutrition business to scale painlessly. “Whether we are doing one order or 100 orders in a day, it just works well. Shopify also allows us to keep costs lower from maintenance to lower shipping rates by being a part of their network. Technology really has given us an edge to move faster.”
If you’re considering starting or scaling a health and supplement business, don’t underestimate the power of technology to help you exceed your goals as you grow your business.
Vend POS integrates with leading ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Shopify, so you can give customers a thoroughly integrated in-store/digital shopping experience — with no speed bumps along their omnichannel path-to-purchase.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.