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5 Challenges Facing Your Cosmetics Supply Chain

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A finely tuned fulfillment solution is a thing of beauty -- and that's even more true when we're talking about a cosmetics supply chain.

[Updated: June '21]

Beauty and personal care products fall firmly into the category of "items that customers can't wait to receive". As we've seen first-hand for years, high-profile launches and celebrity endorsements have fans lining up online to order. The most successful sell-out not in hours or days, but often in minutes, making beauty order fulfillment a critical part of the customer experience.

On the other hand, this means that any delay reflects badly not only on the individual order but the entire brand. A negative order experience is significantly amplified by online reviews and social networks, turning away potential buyers as well as the original customers.

Even with an exceptional product involved, poor logistics planning has the potential to turn things ugly for your brand. Unexpected bottlenecks arise. Inadequate storage spoils your product. Packaging fails to protect your product. We could continue, but suffice it to say that any number of order fulfillment errors and delivery disasters exist that can show your brand in a bad light.

If it's a one-off glitch in your cosmetics supply chain, you can usually cope. When it becomes the norm to field customer complaints, rework an order, or see returns piling up, the situation is likely to irreparably damage your brand.

eCommerce Emphasizes Supply Chain Importance

It's hard to recall a time when the personal care sector has been more vibrant. Even against the tumult of a global pandemic, self-care orders soared and online growth in the sector is expected to hit 48% by 2023.

Furthermore, new consumer segments are opening up that will accelerate those trends. Personal care products for men, for example, a segment expected to be worth $166 billion by 2022.

As purchases of beauty, health and wellness products have continued to shift online, the importance of the fulfillment process has become paramount. Moving your customers from a user-friendly order experience through confirmation, tracking, and accurate, timely delivery is the foundation for any successful beauty brand.

Underpinning all of this is your cosmetics supply chain and the partners you work with to keep it running smoothly.

5 Cosmetics Supply Chain Challenges

With that in mind, here are five challenges faced by logistics professionals in the cosmetics sector that must be overcome to establish (and maintain) a trusted beauty brand:

  1. TRENDS DRIVE DEMAND - Staying on top of consumer tastes is a constant in the cosmetics industry, which means that what's hot today needs to be on store shelves and available on your site yesterday. Then it needs to be in your customer's hands just as quickly. That leaves very little room for disruptions that slow delivery, as there are plenty of competitors waiting to fill that hot order if your company can't. A fast and reliable supply chain provides more than peace of mind, it becomes your competitive advantage over those with weaker fulfillment solutions.
  2. DIVERSE DESTINATIONS - From the individual eCommerce customer who orders a single item to the international retailer who orders your entire range, you need to be prepared for every eventuality when it comes to what you store and how you send it. Even more important in this challenge is the ability to scale quickly. If a big order arrives unexpectedly, perhaps as a retailer picks up your product after a successful test and wants to take it nationwide in weeks, you're going to need a fulfillment team who understands how to expedite those initial shipments through the supply chain.
  3. PACKAGING EQUALS PRESTIGE - Everyone at Capacity is of the opinion that packaging is one of the most important elements of order fulfillment. That applies tenfold when it comes to the luxury goods that flow through the beauty and cosmetics supply chain. The impression your customer gets when they first open that box informs every other aspect of their experience with your product. If the quality still shines through after navigating the carriers and spending hours on the delivery van, your order fulfillment is keeping a crucial brand promise. If it arrives dusty and damaged, you have to ask tough questions of your provider, because you can be sure your customer is going to ask them of you!
  4. REFRIGERATION REQUIRED? - Many product categories have unique requirements regarding handling and storage, but the stakes rise to another level when climate control is involved. With some cosmetics stored at a specific temperature, your fulfillment partner's knowledge and ability to accommodate varying levels of refrigeration might be important. Failure to meet this challenge and the cost of waste becomes a major issue, even before you take into account the lost orders and drop in brand reputation that inevitably follows.
  5. SAFE & SECURE - For a category of product that typically involves small items, security is a big consideration. What cosmetics shipments sometimes lack in size, they more than makeup (pardon the pun) in value, which makes theft prevention crucial. As with any supply chain, you're only as strong as your weakest link. Every storage point and transport provider must be vetted for the highest security standards, to make sure that these expensive products that should be in stores don't slip off into the night before they make it to the shelf.

If you can successfully address these five main concerns with either your in-house logistics professionals or a third-party fulfillment provider (3PL), your cosmetics supply chain will drive your business and delight your customers. and keep them coming back for more.

Just as your products make those who buy them look and feel better about themselves, your business will experience a similar feeling knowing its supply chain is in safe hands.

If you have questions about facing up to your unique cosmetics supply chain challenges, contact us today for a complimentary consultation.