If you are unfamiliar with iHerb.com (where have you been?), it is a vast online shopping website that sells a wide range of health & wellness products including supplements, cosmetics, bath & beauty products, groceries, snacks, beverages, household cleaning products, baby products, pet products, holistic health products and much more. Shipping is cheap-to-free and like other bulk-buying e-comm sites, prices are incredibly competitive.
I first heard about iHerb when I was still a Naturopath student in London over seven years ago. I was having trouble getting my parents the supplements they needed in Hong Kong. When I first checked out the site, I was completely gobsmacked by the sheer volume of stuff you could find! As anyone who lives in Hong Kong will tell you, sourcing health & wellness products is not easy. Things have definitely gotten better, and there are some awesome local websites that offer fantastic products and brands, but iHerb really does have it all.
As a die-hard iHerb fan, I was thrilled when Green Queen asked me to share my tips and advice. Years of using the site means I have figured out a fair few tricks and shortcuts. Below, you will find my suggestions on how to navigate iHerb and get the best out of your shopping experience with them. I hope this article will prove invaluable in helping you make decisions for yourself and your family.
If you are looking for personalized recommendations and dosages, please do get in contact to arrange an in-person or Skype session to workout your individual needs.
Why I Love iHerb: Let Me Count The Ways
You can’t get everything locally
‘What about environmental concerns like support local producers and the carbon footprint cost?’ you may be wondering? Trust me, I have taken all of this into account. I still very much champion high-quality, locally-made/grown foods and products. This guide is for those things you either cannot source at all in Hong Kong (specific items of brands) and for those things that command a very high premium from local retailers.
It’s really useful to have ONE place to get everything
Since moving my Loula Natural practice to Hong Kong a few years ago, I have expanded my client base greatly. As a practitioner that sees clients both physically in Hong Kong and virtually from all around the world, I find having a central place to recommend products and supplements to be invaluable. Being able to provide consistency no matter where in the world my client is based makes life so much easier.
It’s a great solution when you are traveling
iHerb is also very convenient that when I travel, I can have the same products sent to me without worrying about when and how I will find them in an unknown place, especially when it comes to cosmetics, pantry products and supplements. It also means I get to use that extra luggage space/weight for other things, like more shoes! iHerb ships to 150 countries and accepts over 20 currencies so consider this when traveling as most hotels will accept packages on your behalf.
iHerb has a very smart rewards referral program
iHerb has a very clever word of mouth marketing scheme: if you click on any of the products I recommend, I gain iHerb credit in my account. Further, if you are using iHerb for the first time, make sure to use a friend’s discount code: mine is WJZ679. You can also use the below coupon to get USD 5 off your first order.
And an even smarter customer loyalty program
Every time you buy something on iHerb, you get a 10% rewards credit from your existing order to use on your next purchase: it’s literally free money. How amazing is that? If you do a big order (I tend to do one monthly) chances are that if you forget a couple of things in a few days, those items will be practically free as you will use your credit from your last big purchase. And don’t worry: the credit lasts for 60 days so you do have time to make use of it.
So let’s get down to business. Here are my top eight tips for iHerb beginners:
1. Download The iHerb App
Initially I thought the app would be dangerous, in that I would be shopping constantly. In truth, it has been invaluable. When I’m on the go and I realize I need something, I can easily add it to my shopping cart and they remain there until I am ready to actually place the order. I also use the app to share items with my social media network or via email/Whatsapp- so useful when I find a new product I am excited about. When I’m commuting, I can use the app to easily research products and save the ones I’m keen on.
2. Stay Organic With The Wish List Function
When I see something I wasn’t necessarily looking for, I always make sure I add it to my wish list. The wish list is also very useful for out of stock items, which can happen a fair bit on iHerb. Similar products will be displayed and I can add ones that I like onto your wish list, without the extra hassle of having to search again when I’m ready to order. I always find a wish list makes it so easy to remember those things you often forget. I always run through my wish list before placing an order.
3. Make Use Of The Re-Order Function
iHerb makes it extremely easy to reorder. In your ‘Order History, ‘ you can review all the items you purchased and add them to your current basket. You can amend the item’s quantity, and you can add new items easily too. Make sure to check your ‘Wish List’ to see if there are items you want to try or to find items to add extra weight or make up the total cost to get free shipping.
4. Share Your iHerb Code With Your Family & Friends
If you introduce your friends and fam to a new product they have not bought before, you can easily make a quick code in iHerb’s ‘Create Links’ box. Go to the product you love and make your own link and then you can earn credit so you can buy it for less on future orders. Bonus tip: popular items often go out of stock so make sure to buy your own first before sharing!
5. Be VERY Specific When You Search
Online shopping can be overwhelming sometimes: the sheer number of choices and products is astounding, especially on a site like iHerb. If I search for ‘snacks, ‘ hundreds of results show up, and most of them are not a good fit for me:
Make sure to add qualifiers to basic searches. So for example, if I type in ‘paleo snacks, ‘ I get 20 choices that are more suited to my needs:
6. Keep Track Of New Brands & Products
When I am reviewing my search results, there are often many products and brands that I don’t know. I right click on the result and open a new tab with the products that interest me so I can review them in more detail rather than go back and forth from the search results. I then go through each tab to learn more about the brand and review the ingredients. If the product passes my review, I add it to my wish list. This is how I check every single food, cosmetic and supplement product that I buy! It sounds quite long-winded but it’s actually worth it to be organized for future orders. It also means I have a wish list full of great choices ready to go when it’s time to do my next order!
7. Don’t Forget To Check Out The Specials
Before I check out, I always make sure to have a look at iHerb’s specials, and there are many. Check the Daily Deal, a one off offer for a particular product- the link is always at the very top right of the site. Try the the Trial Pricing section where you can get two samples of a product that is on promotion- lots of great deals to be had. And finally there is the Specials page where you can find all the products that are currently discounted.
8. Be Smart About Shipping
Another brilliant iHerb feature? Shipping tends to be free if you are smart about it. For orders to Hong Kong, shipping is free if you choose SF Express as the carrier and it takes a few business days. The only conditions are that you need to spend over HKD 400 and your order weight must be under 200 lbs. I find it’s worth waiting until my order meets the requirements to save on shipping. However, at other times, like when I need something urgently or I am sending out an order to a destination I am traveling to then I will consider paying extra for faster shipping. Different countries have different deals and these change all the time so be sure to check: iHerb does send out emails with special shipping offers so be sure to look out for those.
Stay tuned for the rest of my Loula Natural’s iHerb series: the next posts will contain more specific brand and product recommendations, starting with Louise’s top ten snack choices on iHerb.
Louise Kane Buckley is a well-known naturopath and nutritional therapist in Hong Kong as well as the founder of online wellness blog Loula Natural. Over the past few years, Louise has become Hong Kong’s numero uno expert on all things related to fermentation and health; she regularly teaches a popular series of fermentation classes. She is also the author of Culture Your Life, Kefir and Kombucha for Every Day Nourishment. Make sure to follow Loula Natural on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
All images courtesy of Loula Natural.