HealthKart.com, a venture of the Bright Lifecare formed in March 2011 has grown to a strength of 400 plus, and is heading towards the cherished goal of becoming India’s e-health mega store. It sources the best health and wellness products from across the globe and provides them via online shopping. Its offerings cover categories like Nutrition, Sports and Fitness, Diabetes, Home Devices, Eye, Personal Care, Beauty, Parenting and Health Services. It has partnered directly with brands and their authorised channels, to ensure strict quality control and has 100% genuine products. The company delivers to most parts of India as it has tied up with some of the best delivery services.
Today, HealthKart offers India’s largest range of genuine health products across categories and all major brands. The company offers more than 40 brands in the sports nutrition category. Recently, it has announced an agreement with Optimum Nutrition, the biggest premium sports nutrition brand globally, to offer the range of authentic products in the online space. With this agreement, HealthKart becomes the only authentic online importer for Optimum Nutrition’s premium and comprehensive line of products in India. In an email interview with NuFFooDS Spectrum, Sameer Maheshwari, Managing Director and Co-Founder, HealthKart.com, shared his thoughts on online marketing for nutrition and nutraceutical products and issues before the companies operating in this space.
How many brands and companies is healthkart.com representing in the nutrition and nutraceuticals space? And how many people are working in this division?
We partner with more than 50 global brands in the nutrition and nutraceuticals categories across the world. We have a team of over 250 people across purchase, merchandizing, technology, operations and customer support. This also includes an expert team of about 10 certified nutritionists and fitness professionals who are able to properly counsel customers regarding their nutrition needs and the best product fit to address such needs.
How do you see the online marketing of nutrition and nutraceuticals products in India?
Online nutrition market is booming with the growth of e-Commerce and nutraceutical industries. Few segments within nutraceuticals such as sports nutrition, where the target customer is younger, is growing faster than other segments because younger population has higher online penetration rates. Given that nutraceuticals require tremendous amount of customer education, content and mobile will play a large role in growing this category online. Growing health awareness in the country and increasing per capita incomes will all lead to growth in the industry.
What kind of growth of business did you see in the nutrition and nutraceuticals space in the last couple of years?
We have over 500,000 customers who have transacted with us and we continue to grow at 2-3 times year on year. The customers are spread across the country with 30% of sales coming from tier 4 towns. We are super excited about growth prospects in the category.
What challenges have you encountered in the last couple of years?
While the industry is growing, it is plagued with counterfeit products. Some of the products such as protein supplements, cost a bomb to the Indian consumer because of high custom duty on them. As a result, Indian consumers are paying almost twice the amount a US consumer is paying, leading to the growth of a grey and fake channel. In addition to educating the customer about the efficacy and usage of such products, it has been a challenge to also educate them on the need to buy only authentic products.
Sometimes, price sensitive customers tend to overlook an obvious need to check the authenticity which may lead to serious repercussions on their health. To ensure authenticity, HealthKart tightly partners with brands such as Optimum Nutrition, to ensure that the very best and only authentic products are available to Indian consumers.
With no regulations in place for online marketing of nutrition and nutraceuticals products, how do you address the challenges before the companies and consumers?
We address the challenges largely through our specialized customer support, where we offer free counseling services to customers. Counseling is provided by certified nutritionists or fitness trainers, who educate customers on efficacy and usage of such products. A detailed assessment form is collected during every counseling session and products are recommended based on the goals and profile of an individual. Also the customer is educated regarding the potential side effects and directions for usage on such products to ensure safety and transparency.
You noted that in the sports nutrition market about 50% of the products sold are plagued by counterfeit products. How do you assure consumers that the products supplied online are safe?
We partner directly with brands and their authorised channels to ensure strict quality control and deliver 100% genuine products to our customers. Partnership is done using a backend supply chain and marketing communication to ensure that authenticity is guaranteed to the customer.
HealthKart is bringing in availability of quality health products to consumers using E-commerce and have a detailed product description on the website which helps our customers in deciding the appropriate product to fulfill their needs.
We deliver to most parts of India as we have tied up with some of the best delivery services. We rely on Gojavas, Delhivery, Fedex, Bluedart for speed and Indian post for reach. Also, we have a ‘14 Day Return Policy’ if our customer is unsatisfied with the purchase.
What are your plans for the company in the coming years?
HealthKart.com aims to be a major health network in the country that connects the customer at every touch point, through technology. Given the size of the market and the gaps left untapped, we think the potential to grow and grow aggressively, is huge.
The idea is to cater to myriad needs of customers to provide the best health and wellness products for nutrition, sports and fitness, diabetes, home devices, personal care, beauty, parenting and health services from across the globe and provide them to every Indian through this platform.
We plan to;
a) Increase the depth of subcategories such as sports nutrition, weight loss, vitamins etc.
b) increase the marketing push to reach out to many more consumers,
c) expansion of MuscleBlaze, performance nutrition brand that we recently launched and
d) popularise HealthKartPlus, our m-health destination. We are excited about the growth prospects of our brands and mobile health platform, which was launched recently.