We’ve worked with many nutraceutical startups over the years, and time after time we hear that one of the most beneficial services we provide is our checklist of things to do before launching a nutritional supplement or vitamin product.  With this in mind, we’ve decided to post a “launch checklist” so that you can focus you attention on post-launch sales rather than cleaning up problems that could have been resolved with careful planning prior to launch.  Although this isn’t an exhaustive checklist, it should serve as a good starting point as you begin to conceptualize the direction and focus of your company and decide how you want to market your product. Whether you are trying to open a home business selling vitamins, or simply expanding your website to sell supplements online, this checklist will help get you on the way to success.

As you go through the following list, be sure to write out any ideas or questions that you have on a notepad.  These notes will allow you to focus on areas of your business plan that need to be formulated more concisely and will give you a better understanding of different issues that may require further research.

(A) Business Concept and Strategy:

  • Formulation Do you know if you want your product formulated as a powder, pill, or a liquid supplement?  Do you have any special requests such as enteric coating or added dyes?  Make sure that you have at least 3 solid selling points over your competition from a formulation standpoint (i.e. “my protein pills are better for building muscle because they contain…”).  In addition to ingredients used, you can also promote the benefits of your supplement’s delivery methods (i.e. liquid vitamins vs. pill vitamins).
  • Advertising and Sales Channel Plans Determining your target audience is tremendously important in marketing your product.  This will not only determine how you advertise, but where.  For instance, if you are marketing a body building supplement, you may leave brochures at a gym describing how your supplement promotes muscle growth.  Or if you are trying to sell a multivitamin for women, you may set up a website about your vitamin with articles about women’s health.
  • It’s also important for you to determine if you want to sell directly-to-customers (DTC) or through retail channels.  Although you can obviously do both, it helps to direct your attention to one or the other so that you can focus your resources.

(B) Formulation and Production:

  • NDA Signed Do you have a NDA signed by each supplement manufacturer that priced your formulas?
  • Ingredients Identified Have you identified the exact sources and standardizations for all of the ingredients that you are looking for price quotes on?

(C) Production:

  • Contract Did you sign a formulation agreement with your contract vitamin manufacturer?
  • Manufacturer Legally Allowed to Manufacture Nutritional Supplements Have you seen any paperwork from a reputable governing authority (State Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration) showing that the manufacturer is legally allowed to manufacture nutritional supplements?  Research your manufacturer online and insist that they show you any pertinent credentials.
  • Obtain a Pre-production Sample Have you obtained a pre-production sample of the product before purchasing a full production run?  This is important so that you know that what you are ordering is exactly what you want.  If the color, taste, consistency is off, it’s better for you to know prior to several million units being produced.  Also, if you have a pre-production sample and something goes wrong in the actual production run, you can always use this sample as a comparison for that product that you actually wanted produced.
  • Obtain a Certificate of Analysis Have you received a certificate of analysis for all materials used in the production of your nutritional supplement?

(D) Packaging:

  • Packaging Presentation Have you decided what images and text that you want to use on your packaging?  Do you know who your target audience is for your product?
  • Samples of bottles or Packets Have you seen samples of the exact size bottle or packet that your product is going in?
  • Make sure that your product has the exact “look” that you are going for.

(E) Compliance and Information Review:

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Compliance Have you reviewed your label or packaging for all
  • Domain Name Does your domain name reflect your company or product name? Make sure that this is something that is both easy to remember and has a direct connection to the product you are selling (e.g. don’t name your website after your dog!).
  • Secure Transactions Is your website secure for transactions and is that illustrated prominently on the website through logos and seals?
  • Verify Information Have you verified that all contact and order information is correct including product pricing, special offers, phone number and domain names?  While a website can help you to promote and sell your product, having a website with the incorrect information on it will frustrate consumers and drive away sales.

(F) Operations:

  • Tested Mechanism of Deposits Have you “test charged” to make sure that credit cards and funds are deposited into the desired back account without any hiccups or mishaps?  Just think how frustrating (embarrassing) it would be to find out that you’ve sold 1,000 units on your first day, but that they’ve all of the funds have been deposited in the wrong bank account!  A single missed digit is all it takes, so be sure to do a deposit test run.

(G) Shipping:

  • Invoices, Packing Slips, and Shipping Labels Can you print out invoices, packing slips, shipping labels and all other documents needed for shipping product?  It may seem ok to hand write invoices now, but when you get orders for hundreds of vitamins, it’s important to have a computerized way of printing out all of your documentation.

(H) Storage:

  • Protecting Your Product Do you have a cool, dry place to store your supplements out of the sun to protect them prior to delivery to cialis generique customers?  It’s important to keep it safe and stable because relatively minor temperature and humidity variations can destroy supplements. If you are working with a vitamin drop shipper, then this won’t be a problem.