Last year NOW uncovered rampant quality issues on Amazon after testing several “no name” brands sold on Amazon, highlighting the need for more oversight of dietary supplement sellers on Amazon. Since then, Amazon has introduced some sweeping standards.
“I think we'll probably see some evolution over time. I think they [Amazon] were trying to hit some of the basics and think for the most part, they've done a pretty good job of that. None of the requirements are particularly onerous, I would say. And maybe over time as they see other issues pop up, there may be some additional requirements, but I think I think for the most part we've already seen the bulk of what they're going to require in terms of base entry into the Amazon Marketplace.”
Beyond Amazon, there are plenty of other retailers who are implementing their own unique set of standards for manufacturers to pass in order for the retailer to sell their products.
While these retailer standards probably sound like a good idea to the consumer, for supplement manufacturers having to clear standards set by each individual retailer creates a host of potential problems.
In 2019, CVS introduced Tested to be Trusted, “a program requiring third-party testing of all vitamins and supplements sold in-store and online to confirm the accuracy of the dietary ingredients listed on the supplement facts panel and to confirm products are free from certain additives and ingredients.”
“From the perspective of the brand holders and the manufacturers, we would like to see some harmonization. I think you're seeing the standards pop up because what's available right now is clearly not satisfying everybody involved,” explained Secrist.
“It goes back to ‘the good old days’ so-to-speak, when you had people at the brick-and-mortar stores who knew the manufacturers, they interacted with them all the time. Many of them would actually go and tour the facilities of the brand holders. And now, the barrier to entry is very, very low. So you have all of these companies --many of them just marketing companies-- who have popped up overnight. They have a very successful marketing campaign. They know how to get the top billing on Amazon's website and all of a sudden they shoot to the top and nobody's ever heard of them. But you don't have that barrier to entry in e-tail when you're just selling on the internet and so I think this [new set of standards] is a move to try to replace some of that. This is an attempt to bridge that gap and I think it's long overdue,” said Secrist.