I came to know about Vitacost as one of my friends had referred me to their website and gotten me entitled to a $10 purchase coupon.(thereby earning a $10 coupon for himself in the process..how selfless indeed )
Anyways onto the review then...
Website interface - The website layout was not bad but there were way too many vitacost brand products everywhere giving the impression of a strong sense of over-marketing of vitacost brand products. This kind of marketing ( which I've learnt how to deal with and personally have no problem with whatsoever) does have it's pros and cons though as they influence customer buying decisions in either way.
I do however happen to know some people who react in polar opposite ways to such kind of marketing gimmicks.
While one type gets easily influenced (and happily drinks away the cool aid) to the extent of replacing his original requirement with the (definitely) cheaper and (supposedly) better value products offered , the other type (being thoroughly disgusted at the in-your-face over marketing) seldom visits the site again and even completes his original requirement from another website.
As far as I'm concerned, I like to keep a balanced head AND a balanced budget so while i may experiment with say a Vitacost brand chromium or vitamin pill, I'll definitely stick with the brands that work for me when it comes to protein , BCAA and pre-workout powders.
Navigation and search function - The good thing worth mentioning here is that even though they have a wide product selection (other products apart from bodybuilding products also available here) yet the navigation and search features were surprisingly fast and user friendly.
Shipping - The website offers free shipping with an order over $49 which is pretty good value. The good thing is that while some people may not have a $50 requirement of bodybuilding products they can also stack in some pet products, baby products or just about anything that gets the order over $49 which will qualify them for free shipping. Again a good strategy which may result in increased number of orders of at least a minimum amount of $49. It's a very good option for a family man who's into bodybuilding and incidentally unable to get his original bill to cross $49 to qualify himself for free shipping takes advantage of the fact that he also has to get some pet/beauty/baby supplies and kills two birds with a (vitacost branded) stone to become the king of savings but how many of them doo you know...?
I certainly don't qualify in the above mentioned criteria ( no babies, no pets .. just me :) and being unable to get the order upto $49 I was ok paying the $6 as shipping fees as i wasn't paying much for the products being shipped ( $10 coupon..remember ). That was then and in the future in the event that I order from these guys (which I'm most likely to in order to once again claim some referral coupons that I've since earned as my some of my referred friends ordered from them ..mwahahahaha) it'd most likely be a bulk order of at least 2 - 3 months of supplies.
Service - The service was good. Items came packaged neatly in a (VitaCost branded) box. The notification email indicating order number sent within a few hour's time from placing the order. Order tracking information was sent over the next day and it took just about 2 additional days for the order to arrive. Neatly packaged with protective materials inside the Vitacost logo branded box. Good service and definitely one of the positives of ordering from them.
Prices - This is the tricky part that requires some deep understanding of applied mathematics so as to determine the value. Ok before I end up confusing some of you guys any further let me just say that the prices are reasonable and are lower than found on industry leaders such as BB.com and GNC however when it comes to offering the lowest prices possible these guys have a secret weapon which is like flipping a coin. Yep, you guessed it..it's the almighty referral coupon. Yep, the time has come to get your lazy-ass friends (and relatives and office colleagues and random strangers) inspired and have them buying fitness (or sometimes baby/beauty/pet) products off this website just for the simple reason that the more of them do it the more rewards you earn which in turn can entitle you to get your order for a cheaper rate. If you play those cards right you can truly get the best prices for any supplement you need from VitaCost.
Marketing - There are many out there who just don't give too much about how a website goes about its marketing business. If you're still reading this (Thank You, BTW) you can most definitely tell (hopefully) that I'm not one of them. I just wanted to say that i completely understand the need to promote store brand products in an attempt to gain some market presence that's much needed in such a competitive industry. Just that there might be others who won't be so understanding and I feel they might lose some of those customers due to what many would feel like is considered over-marketing. On the other hand if said VitaCost products do deliver as good as they claim to 9 for the guys who drank the kool-aid) then that itself could earn them a good solid fan-base and a dedicated following.
Bottom line - Very positive experience. Good prices. Next order coming up soon . ( Now lets get busy getting to know new people and convincing them to buy stuff from Vitacost ...Just a minute.. Wait..Why would i do that ?? I don't work there..OR DO I ?????)