How a supplement brand created its own app

Given the resources needed to launch – and then manage – an app, it might not seem the most logical route for a business to follow. But, for retail business Obvi, it's proven a wise decision.
supplement brand Obvi 16x9 hero

New Jersey-based health and wellness company Obvi launched in 2019, looking to reach a younger demographic by offering flavored collagen supplements, rather than the staid, flavorless offerings found elsewhere. ‘We came up with something that had bright branding, really cool flavors, and targeted that 25- to-35-[year-old] market,’ says co-founder Ashvin Melwani. The business picked up pace in 2020 as the pandemic hit and people began focusing more on their health, while simultaneously turning to online shopping. In 2019, revenue was $250,000 – in 2020, $5 million.

The tipping point

After hitting the $5 million milestone, Obvi decided to make a big strategic move. As it began to acquire more customers, it tussled with the question of how to keep them. 

‘What was great [about having an app] was the idea of customers finding recipes, videos [and] blogs, and being able to track their orders, manage subscriptions and [join] a loyalty program,’ says Ashvin. An app was more personal than a shop, he adds – tailoring content to an individual user in a more immediate way than opening up a web browser, logging in and being served content. ‘You have to offer value,’ he explains. ‘There has to be some incentive to take up space on their phone. Having something that differentiates the app from your website is crucial.’

A quick build 

Obvi developed the app using a third-party tool called Tapcart, which takes pre-existing Shopify stores and migrates them into an app. That includes seamlessly integrating the back-end to allow everything to be handled in-house, from managing orders to customer service. The all-inclusive nature of Tapcart made it an obvious, simple choice for Obvi, says Ashvin. 

Integrating the app into the company's back-end processes took around a week, but the business spent more time conceiving the look and feel of the app's homepage and creating banner images and content that could be consumed in-app, like recipes and blogs. ‘All in all, it took about three to four weeks for us to launch it,’ Ashvin says. 

Releasing it into the wild

The app launched in December 2020, coinciding with the release of a new flavor of its collagen protein powder – peppermint mocha. The brand broadcasted a Facebook Live announcing the app, followed by an email and SMS messages. ‘That day alone we had 10,000 downloads,’ Ashvin says. Incentivizing users to download the app was key, he explains – and exclusively revealing products through the app encouraged users to turn on push notifications.

Ashvin plans to integrate the app further into Obvi's business plans, which include expanding its product line. ‘The app will always be included in our launch process, to ensure customers feel like they're first in line to get the new thing, just because they have the app,’ says Ashvin. 

A version of this article was first published in Courier issue 47, June/July 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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