The Vitamin Shoppe on Monday announced that it has launched a subscription box service it’s calling "Spark Auto Delivery," according to a press release.
The service, developed in partnership with branding firm Liquid Agency, offers free online or in-store returns and customers can also choose their own shipping schedule. The supplements maker will send subscribers a free box of samples four times a year, according to the release.
Subscribers, who earn "Healthy Awards" points through the service and enjoy free shipping, will also have the option to receive free online consultations with certified nutritionists to prepare customized wellness plans, the company said.
Beset by various law enforcement investigations and sanctions over supplement quality and claims, as well as competition by general merchandisers, retailers in the space have tried to reposition their operations to drive sales.
Rival GNC, for example, has turned its fortunes around after revamping its stores and loyalty program. While subscriptions aren’t new in the space, Vitamin Shoppe Chief Customer Innovation and Technology Officer John Hnanicek said in a statement Monday that its take will offer personalization and discovery. "With Spark Auto Delivery, we are enhancing our customer's journey from product discovery to delivery by incorporating personalized elements and interactions designed just for them."
The move, like so many efforts from traditional retailers these days, is also an answer to Amazon, which now offers its own private-label supplements and subscriptions as part of its Prime-exclusive Elements line. Rivals should be worried any time Amazon enters a consumer space: Amazon's private label initiatives are experiencing runaway growth across a range of key product categories, even emerging as the online leader in some cases, according to consumer spending research from 1010data Market Insights.
Amazon Elements in particular is "cleaning up market share," increasing 266% year over year according to 1010data. As an example, based on total dollars sold among the top 10 brands, Amazon now controls 16% of the baby wipes market, just behind Huggies (33%) and Pampers (26%). "No matter the market, the challenge for brands in an increasing number of categories is that Amazon is the top online channel," 1010data senior vice president of marketing Jed Alpert said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive. "[T]he bottom line for brands is they can no longer view Amazon as solely a channel and need to acknowledge Amazon as a competitor."
But Vitamin Shoppe nevertheless enjoys an advantage, according to Liquid Agency Chief Strategy Officer Dennis Hahn. "In a world where Amazon is challenging the retail norms, we employed 'Silicon Valley thinking' to design a subscription service experience for The Vitamin Shoppe that other retailers simply cannot replicate—by leveraging brand equities that are unique only to The Vitamin Shoppe and their customers," he said in a statement.