Jeff Pape 1 year, 9 months ago
E-commerce start up. HELP deciding manufacture/fulfillment company.
Thank you for the opportunity to learn from you and “pick your brain(s)” :).
Please help me decide between product manufactures with consideration of their fulfillment services.
I’m am an e-commerce startup that plans on going live with sales and promotion April 2, 2018. I’m using an inbound sales funnel agency (FunnelKake.com), including website development. I’m starting with one product; a weight loss dietary supplement (capsule, 60 counts/bottle). I’m deciding between NutraGroupUSA.com and Vitalabs.com for a manufacturer/fulfillment (other manufacture suggestions welcomed).
NutraGroup has been in business only about 4 years and farms out its fulfillment to Fulfillment.com, which happens to be based in the same city as itself – Savannah, Georgia. NutraGroup charges about 25% more per bottle of product than Vitalabs (ie $7.25 vs $5.85). Fulfillment services at Fulfillment.com run about 15% above in-house fulfillment at Vitalabs.
Pros to NutraGoup:
1. HAS MORE PRODUCTS and capability for manufacturing-expansion of my product line than Vitalabs.
2. FULL-SERVICE FULFILLMENT: Fulfillment.com has tons of fulfillment service-features available,
such as taking product returns (bottles) from individual customers (probably an additional fee).
Vitalabs does not take returns from individual customers.
Cons to NutraGroup:
1. HIGHER COST: NutraGroup charges about 25% more per bottle on my product than Vitalabs ($7.00 vs $5.85). 2. Fulfillment services from NutraGroup at Fulfillment.com run about 15% above in-house fulfillment at Vitalabs.
3. YOUNG COMPANY: only 4 years in the dietary supplement manufacturing business.
4. SLOWER TO RESPOND: At least initially, appears a little slow on follow-up of emails.
5. I can’t find company reviews.
PROs to VITALABS:
1. In business for over 30 years.
2. Personal attention and quick to respond to my emails.
3. 20% less cost of products and fulfillment.
4. Manufacturing and fulfillment under one roof.
5. Lower startup costs. Great for me as my funds are limited.
6. Good reviews.
CONS to VITALABS:
1. NO PRODUCT RETURNS TAKEN: This worries me because I don’t know yet how I would handle that. I work out of my residence.
2. LIMITED PRODUCTS. Unable to manufacture my eventual planned second product.
A. As a start-up, should I focus solely on my featured product success, not worrying about a second product yet, knowing I can change manufactures in the future as needed?
B. How difficult is it to change dietary supplement manufacturer and fulfillment company when needed.
C. I’m open to considering other dietary supplement manufacturers, any suggestions?
D. Whats the best place to find company review or documented problems and complaints.
Your response will be appreciated more than you know. Any references to further reading and such would also be great.
Jeff Pape, RD
Dietitian Made Products, LLC. (working name)
Krista FabregasParticipant1 year, 9 months ago
The good news is you’ve done your homework and are focusing on several key issues that will impact your business’s rollout and growth. First, I’m not personally familiar with the dietary industry, so I can’t offer any input there. But there are more than 2 players in this field and maybe there’s one that both offers the range of products you seem to want to carry, plus handles all aspects of fulfillment, including returns. Can you do some more research on potential suppliers first?
If you can’t find one that checks every box, then you need to see how you’d get around the shortcomings. Can you handle returns yourself? Does going with the lower cost offset returns? Is the second planned product locked-in, or do you just plan to extend the line after your first rollout? If not locked-in, does the more established, lower-cost supplier have other products that could extend the line? These are the what-if questions to answer at this stage that can help you pick one over the other.
I hope this helps! Good luck.