LuckyVitamin expands to make the planet a healthier place for consumers.
By Mark Lawton, Knighthouse Media
In 1956, the grandfather of Sam Wolf started a pharmacy in Eagleville, Penn. In 1996, his father, who had taken over the business, turned it into a community health food store after reexamining his personal and professional priorities. “Due to changes in the pharmacy industry and some of my mother’s health issues, they questioned their lifestyle and products they were using and whether certain chemicals might have certain outcomes,” Wolf says.
Wolf, who has a knack for retail and technology, joined the family business after graduating from college. In 2005, he transformed it into an e-commerce business named LuckyVitamin. “We started with mainly selling vitamins and supplements,” says Wolf, whose titles are founder and “chief wellness spreader.” “Now we sell many adjacent categories including non-toxic skin care, nutrition, non-GMO groceries, pet products and non-toxic cleaning – about 40,000 products.”
In the Top Five
In 2011, GNC bought LuckyVitamin but Wolf continued to run it as a subsidiary. In 2017, private equity group TSG Consumer Products invested in LuckyVitamin to spin it out of the GNC ownership.
Today, LuckyVitamin ranks in the top five among e-commerce companies focused on wellness. It’s a competitive field, Wolf says, and LuckyVitamin distinguishes itself from other companies through a combination of strategies.
“We have a diverse selection and assortment and prices,” Wolf says. “We also provide education, knowledge and content to help customers on their journey to healthy living. We’re really focused on helping consumers make healthy choices.”
LuckyVitamin uses a mix of written and video materials that it distributes through its website, social media, e-mail and other means to keep customers informed, Wolf says. Its website, for example, has a website that offers background on conditions ranging from acne to yellow nail syndrome.
Invested in Technology
Technology, clearly, is instrumental for an e-commerce company and LuckyVitamin has an in-house technology development department.
“We’re always testing new things – tools to speed up the website or provide more personalized experience to customers,” Wolf says. “A lot is happening in AI [artificial intelligence] right now. As a company that uses technology to exist, we feel it’s important to control our own path forward and we invest heavily in technology.”
In 2015, LuckyVitamin began selling directly to customers in other countries. Today, it sells to 50 countries including in Europe, Asia and South America. “We tend to follow population density and where technology is most accessible,” Wolf says.
It hasn’t been easy. “There is no shortage of challenges,” Wolf says. “They speak other languages and use different currencies. There are restrictions on what type of products can and can’t go. There are duties and fees and fraud detection.”
Still, besides growing LuckyVitamin’s customer base, Wolf saw going international as consistent with his company’s mission. “We work through these challenges to fulfill our mission to make the world a healthier place,” Wolf says.
“As the economy improves, we see tighter markets for talent,” Wolf says. “You have to think not just about what you offer in compensation but bringing people into a business where there is the ability to thrive and grow.”
Wolf refers to his 250 employees as the “LuckyFamily.” “We keep that at the forefront,” Wolf says. “We give employees something where they can be part of something meaningful that has an impact.”
Wolf explains that employees want to work at LuckyVitamin for reasons in addition to pay. “Part of our mission here it to practice what we preach,” Wolf says. “We are incredibly focused on spreading wellness not just to customers but to our internal team.”
To do that, LuckyVitamin provides its employees with a yoga center, meditation classes, educational speakers on health topics and a program that increases employee discounts based on the amount of time spent doing wellness activities. It also offers them cooking events, a running club and breaks for walks and flexibility in working remotely particularly for new parents.
“Employee turnover is incredibly expensive,” Wolf says. “It’s hard to quantify but you can really feel it. We see that the longer employees are here, the more they contribute. Retaining employees and keeping them satisfied is very important to us.”
Authenticity and Value
Wolf attributes the success of LuckyVitamin to “a very authentic mission and brand that we present to customers. We take a family-oriented approach. If you went to a mom-and-pop store, that’s what we promote online. As we continue to grow, we maintain that authenticity and provide value for our customers. We can save them money and help them improve their lifestyle.”
Wolf is proud of LuckyVitamin’s accomplishments. “We’ve gone from a small, family-owned store to a global destination,” he says. “[We enjoy] reading the reviews and hearing the stories of how we improved lives and brought the masses to affordable, healthy living products. We hear all the time from customers that, before us, really couldn’t afford or get these products.”
Recently, a customer sent an unsolicited letter to LuckyVitamin, saying that she bought an organic liquid meal replacement product for her child, who was going through chemotherapy. “The only thing the child could consume was the organic meal replacement,” Wolf says. “It makes us feel good that we are improving customers’ lives. As someone who is very focused on eating healthy and keeping toxins out of the environment, I see benefits for my family and others.”