Buying your Supplements Online: Risk vs. Reward
I do not order my supplements online unless necessary. Even though ordering your supplements online might be less expensive, most of the time you never know the quality of the supplement you might be receiving. If you buy online, you are also not supporting your local economy.
One of the main problems with ordering online is that you do not know truly the supplement you are receiving is safe, without going to the store and purchasing a sealed bottle at a brick and mortar store. If you order an unlabeled supplement on online, the source of the supplement might be from China. Some supplements from China might be fine for use, if they are produced with GMP practices, but others do not have quality control standards and often contain contaminants like heavy metals. Most unlabeled supplements on online might have a low-price tag, but when you order an unlabeled supplement from the internet you do not know if you are getting the true supplement, a placebo, or a product that might be harmful to your health.
Another problem with ordering supplements online is that without seeing the expiration date of the supplement before ordering, you might receive a supplement from time to time that has expired. Most retailers will let you return an expired product, but unlike returning an expired supplement to a brick and mortar store quickly with a receipt, online returns can be time consuming and can take weeks to receive a new supplement from an online retailer.
Even though ordering supplements online might be cheaper, I only recommend ordering supplements online that you cannot find locally if all possible. If you do choose to order supplements online use this quick reference guide to balance the pros and cons, and choose which website is best for your needs.
- Buying your supplements on Amazon can save you a lot of money.
- Amazon carries an excellent selection of supplements.
- Amazon carries a lot of hard to find supplements.
- Competitive pricing.
- Free two-day shipping with Amazon prime membership.
- Free three – five day shipping offered on most orders.
- Possible one-day shipping for most orders.
- Free order tracking.
- Amazon itself has a great return policy on expired supplements.
- Amazon and some of their suppliers offer a refund policy on unopened supplements.
- Amazon offers above average customer service.
- Amazon offers a good selection of organic food and products.
- Amazon has multiple reviews and an established rating system for most supplements.
- Some supplements may be more expensive than other websites due to market demand and distributors.
- If you buy from other distributors that sell supplements on Amazon than the parent company, it might be easier to receive an expired supplement.
- Different distributors have different return policies, which may cause issues in returns.
- Limited international shipping.
- Amazon does not carry as many high-tier supplements as pureformulas.com
- Depending on what state you live in if Amazon has a warehouse in the state you will be charged sales tax on every order.
If I have to order a supplement online, I use Amazon.com or Pure Formulas to order most of my supplements. I have an Amazon Prime membership and use it to get my supplements within two days of ordering. Amazon offers many different supplements that can be hard to find on other websites, and they offer a large organic food selection and green cleaning products.
My main concerns with ordering from Amazon is that occasionally you will receive an expired supplement, and depending on what state you live in and if you have an Amazon warehouse in that state you might be charged sales tax on every purchase. If you use Amazon to purchase your supplements, try to buy them from the parent company and not other distributors, unless they have a high rating. If you order your supplements from Amazon’s warehouse directly, you have less of a chance to receive an expired supplement.
- Carries top tier quality and hard to find supplements than any other e-commerce site.
- Pureformulas carries a near perfect selection of supplements.
- Pureformulas has a customer loyalty program.
- Excellent customer service and return policy.
- Free order tracking.
- Very low chance of receiving an expired supplement.
- They do not charge sales tax.
- Pure Formulas offers coupon codes online.
- They send out coupons with every supplement shipment.
- Can purchase supplements using PayPal, which may add some extra purchase protection and enhanced refund policy.
- Tends to be the most expensive supplement e-commerce site.
- Amazon.com offers lower shipping costs and options on most products.
- Pureformulas does not offer organic food.
- No international shipping.
- Even though, Pureformulas might have the highest tier quality supplement selection; they might lack offering some mid-range supplements that are fine for most circumstances.
Pureformulas is a great website based supplement company from Florida that carries many top tier supplements that are hard to find even on Amazon occasionally. They carry all the top tier companies: Pure Encapsulations, Thorne Research, Designs for Health, Xymogen / NuMedica, Life Extension, Jarrow Formulas, Gaia Herbs, Metagenics, Pharmax, Douglas Labs, Klaire Labs, Healthforce Nutritionals, and Reserveage Organics.
Pureformulas also carries an excellent free frequent buyer’s points club, send coupons with every order, and they also have excellent customer service and return policy. They also do not charge sales tax, and they do not charge much for shipping.
The only main issue with ordering from Pureformulas is that it is the most expensive supplement e-commerce site around. Even though, they tend to be more expensive all the perks that come with ordering from them make it well worth it to use them for hard to find supplements. I still highly recommend them!
- Iherb carries a great selection of supplements.
- The website does carry some high-tier supplements.
- International shipping for most supplement orders.
- Iherb offers a reward program.
- Offers coupon codes.
- Free expedited one to five day shipping on orders over $20 in the U.S.
- Iherb does not charge sales tax for orders.
- Low chance of receiving out of date supplements.
- Iherb offers a good selection of organic food and products.
- Iherb has a good sixty-day return policy.
- Iherb does not carry supplements from all the high-tier supplement companies.
- They do not offer an unopened refund policy.
- There are some reviews of Iherb on the internet about occasional shoddy international shipping (long delays, losing orders).
If you are an international customer, Iherb is probably your best bet in purchasing the supplements that you need at a decent cost. For shoppers in America, I usually recommend Amazon or Pure Formulas for the ordering of supplements, but Iherb is almost just as good in most circumstances. Iherb has a great selection of supplements to choose from, great customer service, they do not charge sales tax, and they offer free shipping on orders over $20. Finally, Iherb offers a reward program and offers coupon codes to help you save money on your order.
There are a few issues with ordering from Iherb in getting your supplements if you are an international customer. Some people have complained of long delays in receiving shipments (three – four weeks) and in some cases, supplements shipped did not even arrive! Iherb does not carry supplements from all the high-tier companies, and they also don’t offer a refund policy if you are dissatisfied with the supplement.
- Swanson carries a decent selection of supplements.
- Swanson offers a large quantity of their house brand of supplements.
- Great customer service and return policy.
- Low chance of receiving an expired supplement.
- Swanson offers coupon codes online to save money.
- Swanson also offers “free” shipping.
- One-year refund policy for supplements.
- Swanson carries a limited amount of high-tier supplements.
- The “free” shipping they offer is only for an order over $50.
- Their house brand of supplements is mid-tier.
- You have to ship back the supplement to Swanson for the refund.
Swanson offers one of the best selections of a house brand of products that I have ever seen for an e-commerce site. Some of the supplements in the house brand can range from being top tier to sadly low tier. Even though some of their supplements are questionable, I applaud them for trying to be very ambitious with having their house brand of supplements. Swanson offers a decent selection of other name brand supplements and has a great customer service and return policy. Finally, Swanson offers coupon codes to help you save money, and they offer a one-year refund policy on supplements.
Swanson does offer one of the worse “free” shipping total amounts out of the e-commerce companies, which is $50. They also only carry a very limited amount of high-tier supplements. Other than that, I would trust them to purchase your supplements from them online.
- eBay can be the cheapest site to order your supplements. It is also the easiest way to buy supplements in bulk.
- You can pay with PayPal or a credit card on your orders.
- No sales tax.
- Sometimes free shipping is offered.
- Order protected by PayPal.
- Largest selection of supplements on any website.
- eBay has a review system of individual sellers to help you buy with confidence.
- Offers international shipping occasionally.
- Supplements you purchase from eBay may be from unreliable sources like China.
- Supplements have the greatest chance of being expired compared to other internet ordering options.
- One of the easiest internet ordering options where you can be scammed.
- PayPal protection does not always work when ordering from eBay instead of an internet corporation or brick and mortar store.
If you do not have a lot of money, eBay could be the least expensive e-commerce site to purchase your supplements. Ebay is also the easiest way to buy supplements in bulk, both powders that you can cap yourself, or supplements themselves. You also can pay with PayPal, which can offer you a great sense of purchase protection and refunds if needed than using any other form of payment. Finally, depending on the supplier you might be able to order supplements internationally.
Ordering your supplements from eBay does come with many concerns. If you buy your supplements in bulk, you may not know the source and quality of the supplements, and the country of their manufacture. Also depending on the honesty of the supplier you might not be sent the correct supplement that you thought you purchased, or the supplements you ordered might be out of date. PayPal’s protection policy is not perfect; there are some issues were refunds for faulty products were never received, even when the purchaser was scammed!
Brick and Mortar Supplement Company Websites (Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, Vitamin World)
- Carries an average all-around selection of supplements.
- Average customer return policy.
- Average customer service.
- Offers free shipping on differencing amounts depending on the company.
- Most items can be returned to the store easily.
- Email membership saving clubs.
- No sales tax.
- Refunds are available for unopened items.
- Does not carry many high-tier supplements.
- Can be more expensive than the other online options.
- Does not carry organic food options.
- No international shipping.
I prefer that instead of ordering from a brick and mortar supplement company online, you go get a supplement from a local brick and mortar supplement company store. Support your local economy at all possible people!