One of the silent giants in the vitamins and health supplements world, iHerb recently celebrated its 25th anniversary by raking in more than $185 million in estimated revenue per year. It is an international brand with a strong brand presence based on word of mouth as well as a generous trial and return policy.
Here is a brief timeline of iHerb and its rise as a single product e-store listed on Yahoo to becoming an international health supplement conglomerate:
– 1996: Launched as an ecommerce store on Yahoo with one product: St John’s Wort
– 1999: Built state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled fulfilment centre in Pasadena, CA
– 2005: Launched independent ecommerce site iHerb.com with customer review feature
– 2008: Real-time expiration dates added to site
– 2014: iHerbs mobile app is available for download
– 2018: iTested programme begins testing for purity, ingredients and labelling
– 2019: First international distribution centre is opened in Incheon, Korea
As of the end of 2020, iHerb has over 30,000 products on its e-commerce store and boasts over 4.5 million customer reviews. Its openness to experimentation and constant innovation allowed the team to stay ahead of the competition over the years.
How iHerb Beats Its Competitors In Price
iHerb sets itself apart through its rock-bottom pricing on its health supplements without needing to compromise on the quality of its health supplements. It achieves this through exclusive partnerships with brands that iHerb has long-running relationships with.
According to iHerb’s chief business officer Steve Cho, the company has about 200 products that are house brands or what they call iHerb exclusives. The vast majority of the 30,000 products are built on partnerships.
As iHerb expanded its operations globally, its distribution centre in Korea allowed it to ship goods to countries such as Singapore at lower costs and in greater quantities. This gives them economies of scale, and thus a by-product of their marketing strategy would be to keep prices as low as possible while offering customers free shipping for orders above a certain amount.
Traditionally, the markup on health supplements can be quite high, so iHerb can afford to take a small loss on the postage. Moreover, health supplements are mostly light, with less weight variance than other types of products sold on e-commerce stores and easy to ship, which can make free postage a no-brainer marketing tactic.
In Singapore, there is free shipping for orders over S$52.95+. This incentivises customers to spend more on vitamins and supplements so that they can enjoy free shipping.
What Makes iHerb Different May Also Be A Hindrance
Just like friendships, we tend to stick to brands that we trust. By having a long-term vision in building business sustainability, iHerb offers lower prices to their customers based on established product lines.
Research has shown that consumers are influenced by several factors when buying supplements: including curing an ailment, preventing chronic diseases, gaining a “peace of mind”, supplementing a poor diet, saving money on medical care and achieving cosmetic results. Singaporeans who have tried supplement brands that are well established are likely to stick to them if they find that there are positive effects and may find it a risk to switch to another less well-known or “foreign” brand.
When compared to local retailers like Guardian or Watsons, iHerb may come across as more of a “risk” than brick-and-mortar brands that have built up their reputation in Singapore for a long time. Even though iHerb sells cheaper products, you may opt for local retailers especially if you do not intend to bulk buy or you prefer sticking to the assurance and familiarity provided by local retailers.
5 Supplements That Are Cheaper On iHerb Than Retail Stores
#1 Ddrops — Baby, Liquid Vitamin D3, 400 IU, 90 Drops, 0.08 fl oz (2.5 ml)
Baby DDrops Liquid Vitamin D3 is for babies who need Vitamin D for healthy growth and development in infancy and childhood especially for normal bone growth and muscle strength.
Price on iHerb: S$21.58, 90 drops for 90 days
Age group: Infants and babies
#2 Nature’s Plus — Children’s Chewable Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Supplement, Natural Grape Flavor, 180 Animals
This chewable multivitamin supplement helps to cover the nutritional deficiencies that may occur for children. Not only is this gluten-free, it is also vegetarian, hypo-allergenic and is manufactured with whole food concentrates.
Price on iHerb: S$25.89 for 180 tablets
Age group: Children
#3 Ener-C — Vitamin C, Multivitamin Drink Mix, Orange, 30 Packets, 9.2 oz (260.1 g)
1000mg Vitamin C sachets that give you a much-needed health boost and immunity support with a non-GMO certification from NSF, these on-the-go supplements can be used to maintain a healthy inflow of vitamins for hectic office workers.
Price on iHerb: S$17.54 for 30 packets
Age group: Adults
#4 Bausch & Lomb — Eye Vitamin & Mineral Supplement, Lutein & Antioxidants , 60 Tablets
Lutein is one of the most powerful antioxidants that defend your body against unstable molecules called free radicals that cause harm and degradation. Found in high concentrations in the macula of the human eye, taking lutein can help you improve your eye health, especially important for those staring at screens all day (which is most of us anyway).
Price on iHerb: S$15.06 for 60 tablets
Age group: Adults
#5 Nordic Naturals — Ultimate Omega, Lemon, 1,280 mg, 180 Soft Gels
If there’s one type of fat that you should take on a regular basis (especially if you’re 50 and over), it’s Omega-3. This fatty acid helps to lower your blood fat levels, reducing your risk of getting heart disease and stroke, as well as protecting against rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This fatty acid is abundant in fish like salmon, but supplements like this can help keep your Omega-3 levels consistent.
Price on iHerb: S$80.99 for 180 soft gels
Age group: Seniors
Comparing iHerb’s Prices To Other Local Retailers
In contrast to local retailers, iHerb products are selling at a discount for the above 5 products. You can take a look at the table to note the price differentials.
|iHerb Price (SGD)||Guardian Price||
Ddrops Baby Liquid Vitamin D3
|Nature’s Plus Children’s Chewable Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Supplement||$25.89
for 180 tablets
for 60 tablets
(Original price: $25.70)
Ener-C Vitamin C Multivitamin Drink Mix
(Original price: $34.60)
|Bausch & Lomb Eye Vitamin & Mineral Supplement||$15.06||$21.00
(Original price: $30.00)
|Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega||$80.99||$107.80
(Original price: $154.00)
There is, however, a catch. Even though prices might seem to be cheaper on iHerb compared to local brands, you can still lookout for deals at retailers like Watsons, Guardian and Unity. They often have 3 for 2 deals that allow you to mix and match supplements.
For The Bargain Hungry Singaporean, There May Not Be A Best Offer Yet
Singaporeans can be price-sensitive when it comes to discounts and price differences. On iHerb, you can find a wide variety of supplements to suit your every need. Competition is getting stiffer in the health supplements space, which means you as the consumer get to benefit from competitive prices and increasing convenience. If you are looking for a no-frills health supplements e-commerce platform for you to buy supplements from a highly specific brand or at low costs, you can check out iHerb for more information.