Selling and Shipping Supplements and Vitamins Online

By James Messer
Mar 26, 2021
Shipping supplements and vitamins ShippingEasy blog header

When you make the decision to sell new products online, you want to consider both the likelihood of successful selling as well as how easy those products will be to ship. One such product category that should fit both is vitamins and supplements. Shipping supplements is generally cost-effective because they can be shipped in smaller or compact packaging. Unlike categories such as clothing, supplements don’t need to be seen in person before buying—if the ashwagandha doesn’t work, it’s hard to request a return on an open bottle of pills. As we see vitamins and supplements move further into e-commerce, now may be a good time to start looking into selling them online. 

There are a few things you will need to know before you begin your venture selling and shipping vitamins and supplements. 

First off, let’s differentiate between the two:

  • Vitamins are chemical compounds or groups of chemical compounds like vitamin C or zinc 
  • Supplements are generally a combination of vitamins, herbs, amino acids, or other natural/synthetic ingredients taken to supplement one’s diet 

Generally speaking, the term “vitamin” has better SEO and traffic. The Vitamin Shoppe is the #1 Google result for most search terms. Both terms are equally difficult to rank for, but “vitamin” is more commonly used in brand names. That is something you’ll need to keep in mind when naming your vitamin and supplements business. 

The term “vitamin” is frequently used interchangeably with “supplement.” Furthermore, “vitamins” is a simpler word to spell and this can help with SEO to avoid misspellings that aren’t autocorrected. If you have to choose a term to use in your branding, it’s probably best to go with “vitamin.”

Do I Need Approval to Sell Online? 

Unlike pharmaceuticals, supplements and vitamins do not require FDA approval to sell. Supplements are not subjected to the same tests that drugs are to prove effectiveness or side effects. This makes it an easier product to sell, however, merchants are liable for damages their products cause.


Is Shipping Vitamins and Supplements Internationally Legal?

Supplements and vitamins are commonly prohibited from shipping internationally. Factors such as prohibited compounds or stricter regulations on growing, harvesting, and selling the compounds make many customs offices return or discard supplements. For simplicity’s sake, you’ll want to focus on shipping vitamins and supplements to domestic customers. For more information, check with a desired country’s import restrictions. 


Can I Ship Pharmaceuticals & Prescription Drugs

Pharmaceuticals are an entirely different beast due to regulations and FDA approval. 

Shipping pharmaceuticals involves certain requirements you need to fulfill in order to ship them. If you have to ask if you’re able to ship prescription drugs, you’re probably not. Before attempting to ship pharmaceuticals, it’s crucial to check with individual carriers on their stipulations and guidelines. We’ve linked the three major carriers’ guidelines below. 






Which Carrier is Cheapest?

There is no “one size fits all” answer for the cheapest carrier when shipping vitamins and supplements, but lightweight parcels are generally most affordable through USPS First Class Package Service (under 15.999 oz). 

Heavier parcels are sometimes more affordable through UPS or FedEx. That being said, ShippingEasy’s Flat Rate Green is a very economical way to ship parcels weighing between 2-20 lbs so long as they are under .50 cubic feet. This could be particularly useful for larger orders of capsules or more dense packages such as tubs of supplement powder.

Flat rate shipping may also be an alternative so save on shipping vitamins and supplements. Flat rate shipping is offered by all three of the major carriers, each with their own guidelines. USPS and FedEx provide preapproved boxes for free, and UPS allows merchants to use their own packaging at flat rate pricing. 

USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate Medium Boxes

Download our free guide to flat rate shipping, complete with tables and charts to help you find the cheapest option by weights and zones.


Offering Returns

Returning merchandise is never a fun topic, and with supplements, it’s even trickier. You can’t offer returns on used or opened supplements, but many supplement companies offer returns for orders that are less than 14 days old and if they are unopened. Make sure to be clear and upfront about your return policies, and note that 11% of people abandon carts based on a business’s return policies!

Offering returns on unused merchandise is a great way to boost sales. Even when customers are planning on keeping their merchandise, seeing that a business offers returns is a great way to elevate your brand. This can even move customers from marketplaces with stricter returns on supplements and onto your own website. Luckily, returns can be affordable and easy with the right shipping platform. 

The Case for Repeat Business

One element of selling and shipping vitamins and supplements is the high likelihood of repeat customers. If your customers enjoy the products, they’ll want to reorder. But sometimes people forget or, even worse, shop a competitor’s similar products. That’s why it’s important to get ahead of this situation with buy-it-again reminder emails. 

Building repeat business is a crucial part of maintaining your customers’ lifecycles, and email is a major part of that. ShippingEasy offers Customer Marketing as part of our suite of small business tools. We make it easy to build custom emails or use a prebuilt template. Set-it-and-forget-it automation means you turn on automated emails and they trigger at the right time to your customers.

Sell vitamins and supplements with a typically 30-day supply? Set up automated buy-it-again reminders for approximately 20 days after delivery to make sure your customers have time to replenish before they run out. 

ShippingEasy Customer Marketing buy it again reminder email

There is potential in selling and shipping vitamins and supplements online, and the shipping portion of that doesn’t have to be a pain. ShippingEasy helps you automate tasks, sync orders across stores and marketplaces, and save on every single package. Plus we have add-ons that help you brand the entire shipping experience, build your business, and create repeat business. Try it all, free for 30 days, by clicking below!

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James Messer

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