by Matt Weik
After writing an article just the other week about how The Vitamin Shoppe is falling behind the eight-ball in terms of the sports nutrition market, it seems like they took a play right out of my playbook to help them get back on track with the launch of Spark Auto Delivery. The question now becomes, is this too little, too late? Or is it something that can help boost their sales and put them back on the map after falling flat on their face?
Something new? Hardly.
In my previous article, I noted that The Vitamin Shoppe should implement some of the strategies that Amazon is using. Spark Auto Delivery seems to be their answer. The Chief Customer Innovation and Technology Officer for The Vitamin Shoppe said, “While the concept of auto delivery is not new to the industry, we have created a consumer-first subscription service that combines convenience and savings with engaging experiences. 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.”
Seriously? “Consumer-first subscription service?” Have they gone to the Amazon website lately or did they block their URL so their employees don’t head over and shop on Amazon? A simple look at Amazon’s website shows the option to make a one-time purchase or “subscribe and save” just like what The Vitamin Shoppe is implementing. This is nothing new in the sports nutrition market, so if anyone over at The Vitamin Shoppe is this far behind on trends, they should probably look to hire someone new for the position.
The Chief Strategy Officer for Liquid Agency (who The Vitamin Shoppe is working with on this initiative) came out and said something almost as hilarious as the guy from The Vitamin Shoppe when he said, “In a world where Amazon is challenging the retail norms, we employed ‘Silicon Valley Thinking’ to design a subscription service experience… that other retailers simply cannot replicate by leveraging brand equities that are unique only to The Vitamin Shoppe and their customers.” If you could see me right now, I look like a unicorn from banging my head against my desk.
How does this “new” subscription service work?
While the article I read didn’t say much of how the service actually works, I decided to do some digging on my own and figure out how it was set up. From what I can tell, it’s as if they took Amazon’s subscription service model and added the ability to educate the consumer on how to reach their goals. In essence, they created the following equation: Amazon + Bodybuilding.com = Spark Auto Delivery. They claim you’re going to get the best price guaranteed (which everyone says these days), the ability to save 10%, collect healthy awards points, get free shipping, and then receive a free sample box four times throughout the year that will contain some new and hot products to try (that part is actually pretty cool).
The Spark Auto Delivery program is absolutely free and has no contracts or monthly fees which makes it nice if you plan on purchasing a lot of supplements throughout the year. They claim you can find 1,000’s of your favorite products from categories such as bars, vitamins, protein, probiotics, omega fatty acids, herbs and homeopathy, meal replacements, and hand and body care.
While I wouldn’t consider this new service and technology a game changer, it is nice to see The Vitamin Shoppe isn’t going to simply roll over and die now that Amazon has come in and pretty much scooped up consumers in the sports nutrition market. Do I think this is enough to win back their lost sales and consumers who jumped ship? Maybe. I’m sure some of their loyal customers will venture back and take advantage of the deals.
However, Amazon is Amazon. It’s the place you go for anything and everything. While it’s great that you can use Spark Auto Delivery with The Vitamin Shoppe for all of your supplement needs, it’s an extra site you need to shop at if you were buying more than just supplements online. For instance, people like the ease of going to Amazon and buying all of their essentials, home products, toys for the kids, food for their pets, as well as their supplements. They’d need to go enroll in another program if they wanted to use Spark Auto Delivery. Personally, I don’t think many people will break the habit of just having everything they need coming from one source. It’s ease and convenience.
Spark Auto Delivery, while I think it will help The Vitamin Shoppe sales, it’s too little, too late in my opinion. They sat back and were complacent and allowed Amazon to swoop in and steal their business right from under their nose. Now they are trying to play offense when they don’t even have the ball.
1.) Menayang, Adi. “The Vitamin Shoppe Ups Competition in Digital Space with Launch of Spark Auto Delivery.” NutraIngredients-USA.com, 16 Aug. 2017.
2.) Vitamin Shoppe website: https://www.vitaminshoppe.com/lp/auto-delivery