Whether you’re an established business or a neophyte, thinking about freight shipping nutritional supplements can be cause for a headache. It’s a crucial aspect of your successful business but one you may have no familiarity with and feel overwhelmed by. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Freight shipping nutritional supplements isn’t that hard as long as you look at the full picture. Adhering to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines is a good first step and then taking an analytical approach to carefully weigh your options for shipping will put you on the path to success.
For more info on how to do this, keep reading.
Nutritional supplements, also known as dietary supplements or sometimes as just vitamins, were worth more than $40 billion in the United States alone in 2018. As time goes on, that number is projected to keep rising. So there is major money to be made in this market.
However, in order to tap into that potential revenue, it’s important to know what exactly a nutritional supplement is. A nutritional supplement is a product that is intended to provide nutritional value when a healthy diet alone cannot do it.
Some examples of nutritional supplements include:
Multivitamins are the most popular kind of nutritional supplement used and, as their name suggests, they have multiple vitamins and minerals in one capsule or pill that can provide legitimate health benefits.
These supplements can be either natural or synthetic in composition. One important thing to note is it is against the law in the U.S. for any nutritional supplement to advertise that it can cure, prevent or treat a disease.
A nutritional supplement also is not allowed to be marketed as food or as a substitute for food and is to be presented as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle.
Fitness and nutrition go hand-in-hand. Learn more about shipping fitness equipment.
There are a wide-ranging set of potential benefits that can come from using nutritional supplements, depending on what they are being used for.
For instance, a multi-vitamin can give you access to a bunch of vitamins and minerals that you’re unable to get otherwise. Other supplements are used to give relief to certain ailments — for example, achy joints.
Nutritional supplements can also be useful in an athletic sense. Body builders or others who train for sports often take protein supplements to cultivate lean muscle mass. Even capsules of fish oil have helpful properties. These are full of omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs. Nut and seed oils are also placed into capsules and are sources of nutrients.
There are also natural products made from plants and animals that are thought to have medicinal or health values. A particular example is something such as St. John’s wort is used to combat depression.
There are even probiotics, which are thought to promote good gut health, and are sold in capsules or pills, or put into yogurt or kefir (a fermented milk beverage).
While this is not a “benefit”, it’s important to point out that if nutritional supplements are used in a manner other than they’re directed, they might not have the effect that was originally intended or even have adverse effects.
While brick-and-mortar stores sell large amounts of nutritional supplements, they are increasingly being sold — like many other common items — via the internet. In order for a company to truly take advantage of this, there will be a greater emphasis on inventory management, having an attractive website that is easy to navigate and useful to consumers, and plans for how to ship products directly to customers rather than retailers.
To sell online, you will need to own or rent warehousing space, or partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) company to store your goods. The nice thing about partnering with a 3PL is they can also fulfil the orders on your behalf.
Also inventory management takes on a greater role of importance. Think about it this way: if you are one or two items short when shipping to a retailer, it might not be a very big deal. You simply ship more to them or give them a credit since in most cases, they haven’t sold the items to a customer yet.
But if a customer orders directly from your website and you have to tell them after the fact that you’re out of stock after they have already paid and are waiting because your inventory wasn’t up to date, you’ll either have an angry customer to appease or flat-out lose a customer over something that could have been avoided altogether.
The last part is having a visually pleasing website that is also easy to navigate. The last thing you want is to have very competitive prices on good products, but your customers can’t easily find and order those products. Whether you offer your nutritional supplements on a third-party website like Amazon or have your very own website, properly labeling and offering as much pertinent information about the product as possible.
Whether you decide to focus on selling online or not, the reality of current times is that some portion of your business could very well take place in the e-commerce space. Knowing that, it’s good to have a solid plan for when that happens.
Many dietary supplements are shipped in hard, tamper-proof plastic bottles which are durable and pretty sturdy. Still, even these can break with enough force, so packaging these in hardy cardboard boxes that are taped in the exposed areas to both reinforce the boxes and offer a small amount of protection against water is a good move.
Cardboard boxes in general will be the most effective and efficient way to package your goods. They strike the perfect balance in most cases between affordability and sturdiness that appeal to many, as well as being both recyclable and biodegradable which can reduce costs if you use recycled cardboard and also a smaller environmental impact over items like styrofoam or plastics. This is one step you can take toward green logistics and supply chain practices.
You can use a variety of different items as internal packaging materials to stabilize and guard your products against damage. These range from bubble wrap to styrofoam or biodegradable packing peanuts or even paper. If you think it will help and your business can afford it, it can give you greater peace of mind during the shipping process.
The answer to this question is both yes and no and, with those seemingly contradictory answers, needs to be explained in further detail. So let’s lead with an example.
Let’s say a supplement like St. John’s Wort says it will treat depression. While there are studies that have linked the plant to helping in this regard, the FDA hasn’t evaluated the product in this regard and the company producing the St. John’s Wort supplements are required by law to include on the label somewhere that “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
Other than that warning though, dietary supplements do not have to prove to the FDA that their products work as intended before it is marketed and released. Currently, a company only has to indicate that they plan on releasing a new product — but not what is in it. Only after the items appear on shelves would the FDA make any determination if the product presents the ability to make people sick or if its purported properties have been overstated or misrepresented.
The FDA also makes suggestions such as consulting a health professional before beginning to take any dietary supplements, as well as doing your own research into the unwanted side effects of the supplements or undesirable interactions between the supplement and medication that a person is already taking.
Even if the product doesn’t have unwanted side effects, unsubstantiated claims can be just as harmful to consumers. Cases of dietary supplements that claimed to prevent people from getting cancer or Alzheimer’s, which no drug has even been proven to stop.
The FDA will also step in to regulate products if they have personally received complaints of adverse effects either from the consumer or a health professional. Also the manufacturers of supplements are supposed to self-report any issues but don’t always.
Nutritional supplements can be shipped in cardboard boxes, placed and then shrink-wrapped onto pallets and shipped on an 18-wheeler. Depending on the area they are being shipped through and the time of the year, you can decide if you think you need a normal or refrigerated truck for the shipment.
While you won’t require expedited shipping for a normal load of nutritional supplements, it can definitely be a consideration depending on how quickly you need to get them there and their inherent shelf life. Since some supplements are made out of plant or animal material, they may spoil more quickly than those made of synthetic materials or those that were heavily processed to extend their effectiveness.
Pallets are rated to handle a certain amount of weight and also be stacked only so high, so take that into consideration. Also knowing when the best time to ship your freight is will only help in the long run. Moving freight during peak shipping season can be more costly.
Still, a standard shipment of goods such as nutritional supplements is pretty straightforward: package them, put them on pallets, have them loaded onto the back of a truck with a reputable 3PL company and have them ship them in an expedient and safe manner to their destination.
One thing about many nutritional supplements is they are sensitive to heat. With this in mind, it is important that they are stored and shipped in an environment where heat and even humidity are not factors.
What heat will do to these supplements is cause them to break down more quickly and lose their potency or even their effect entirely. Even worse, the heat can change the chemical composition of some supplements to the degree that they then have unintended harmful effects.
Climate control is important in this regard, so storing and shipping your supplements in a controlled environment can keep them safe and effective. In this regard, it might be worthwhile to hire a refrigerated truck. Despite its chilly-sounding name, the truck can be set at a wide range of temperatures and also provide a dry space for your goods to ship.
This extends to warehousing as well. A hot, humid warehouse will not be a good place to store your supplements. In this scenario, a climate-controlled space is ideal to keep your valuable merchandise.
While not a “temperature”, it is also important to note that you want to have your supplements shipped in a way that moisture is not present. Just like heat, moisture of any kind can degrade your supplements or even completely dissolve them depending on what form they come in. Some supplements are designed specifically to dissolve into liquid so they can be consumed, but you want that process to occur for the customer, not to the product before it reaches stores.
To recap, your nutritional supplements will stay in their ideal form if they are shipped in cool, dry and dark places. This goes for your customers’ nutritional supplements at home as well.
Now that you are learning more about the different aspects of freight shipping nutritional supplements, it’s time to talk about how a 3PL can add value to your business outside of mere transportation.
Obviously, you can coordinate with a 3PL to offer shipping solutions for your business but there are some other services the company can provide to further help your operations.
First of all, the L in 3PL stands for logistics, which means you should be partnering with the kind of outfit that can give you efficiencies in many areas of the supply chain. This can start with warehousing. A well-positioned 3PL will have warehouses across the United States, which can help your business in its quest to have a greater reach at crucial times. This can also be very reasonably priced, making it a superior solution to buying or leasing a warehouse yourself.
Better yet, many of these warehouses are climate-controlled, which can be crucial for certain types of supplements as noted in the previous section.
You can choose to store your supplements in the warehouse and then have the products shipped to retailers when you’re ready, or have the 3PL do order fulfillment on your behalf through pick and pack distribution. You might ask yourself why you’d want to outsource this work?
It goes back to experience and efficiency. A 3PL with a plethora of knowledge has so much practice doing this very work that there’s a pretty good chance they are experts. Instead of the large startup costs and growing pains associated with storing products and order fulfillment, you can have a reputable partner handle this for you.
No matter which way you slice it, logistics solutions that a 3PL can offer you are varied and should be looked into.
3PLs are supply chain experts. From the peanut supply chain to the supplement supply chain, we're here to help.
Now that you can confidently start thinking about freight shipping nutritional supplements, make sure to reach out to R+L Global Logistics to help you with your shipping service. We can make shipping for your products a seamless and cost-efficient experience, as well as treat you like the valuable customer you are. Also, our shipping costs for your products are competitive within the industry.
When freight shipping with R+L Global Logistics, your transported items are treated with the utmost care at all times to ensure they arrive in the same pristine condition they left your facilities in. Taking it a step further, our commitment to deliver your supplements in the agreed-upon time is an important mission of ours. We boast a 99.5 percent on-time delivery rate in getting your freight there when you expect it. We also offer industry-best customer service should any issue arise that you need addressed or if you just have a general question.
R+L Global Logistics also offers additional services that can help your business succeed. For instance, as part of your normal shipping plans or for times when speed is more important, our expedited shipping can be just what you need. With speedier transit times by 1 to 2 days depending on distance, we can assure you that your supplements will be there faster than normal freight shipping.
Taking it a step further, R+L Global Logistics can take care of order fulfillment and warehousing should your business have need of either of those. It is an opportunity to outsource to an expert in the field for a reasonable price.
So when you’re ready to undertake freight shipping nutritional supplements, get a free quote from R+L Global Logistics at 866.353.7178 and let us be your freight carriers for all your truckload shipping needs.