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Cosmetics Fulfillment Best Practices

Cosmetics Fulfillment Best Practices

Business is starting to pick up with your line of cosmetics and you now need a fulfillment and distribution channel to keep things going in ...
Jon Michael Soracchi
October 17, 2019
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Business is starting to pick up with your line of cosmetics and you now need a fulfillment and distribution channel to keep things going in the right direction. However, you may not know the first thing about cosmetics fulfillment’s best practices.

There are a number of best practices to consider when it comes to cosmetic fulfillment, which include:

  • Working with a 3PL company
  • Following FIFO inventory method
  • Use cross docking and transloading when possible
  • Utilize kitting and assembly service for relevant products

Let’s look at a range of things that can be implemented within a cosmetics supply warehouse to enhance operations. Regardless of whether it is a small container of anti-aging cream for skin care to a high-volume order of hair conditioner, best practices for your cosmetic fulfillment center can enhance your business in the United States. Let’s see what can work to get cosmetics supply orders out the door.

FIFO Inventory Management

It’s high gear activity inside a cosmetics supply fulfillment center, and cosmetic fulfillment & distribution is at the forefront of the buzz. As orders arrive at the distribution warehouse, they are then sorted, packed per order and then shipped out again to the customer. In some cases, this may take a few minutes or hours to get a shipment out the door while it may be a few days to get other products shipped. It depends on the capacity of the fulfillment center to get the job done.

The strategy of FIFO or first in, first out is a cosmetics fulfillment best practice. This means the first cosmetics supply inventory in the warehouse will then be the first out shipped to fulfill orders. Using FIFO aids in making sure cosmetics products do not expire while in the warehouse.

Looking for a team able to provide warehouse throughput expiring product fulfillment can be important in cosmetic fulfillment & distribution. Since most cosmetic items have an expiration date and are products that require special care, it is important to pay attention to these details to ensure effectiveness for customer use and not ship an expired product after the fact.

When it’s time to get an order shipped, consumers want a quick turnaround from the time of order to final delivery. So if a fulfillment partner can’t deliver cosmetics supplies almost instantly, the consumer tends to look elsewhere and eventually make a purchase with fast shipping. This is why streamlining the shipping process is important to keep up with demand and not get bogged down in the process.

Working to utilize the first in, first out approach is a good best practice for your cosmetics supply fulfillment center. This strategy allows you to keep control of exactly what products are used to fulfill orders and also manage cost effectively. It also helps with pre-planning for what cosmetics supply items should be restocked based on orders.
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The 3PL Side of Cosmetics FulfillmentThe 3PL Side of Cosmetics Fulfillment

Typically, cosmetic companies will contract with a fulfillment company to fill orders and handle shipping to customers. A 3PL warehouse, or third-party logistics warehouse, is a good solution for the cosmetics fulfillment process.

Another one of the fulfillment best practices is to find a 3PL provider that is a good fit for your company. The selected company should have a warehouse tracking system (or WMS) in place so clients can quickly obtain an accurate record of what inventory they have available in the fulfillment center. In working with a WMS, shippers have the flexibility to know when to send more product or hold off if orders are lagging. It avoids having too much inventory sitting in the warehouse at any time.

Utilizing technology in the warehouse, a productive warehouser is able to understand the shipping requirements of each client and design a customized cosmetic fulfillment & distribution solution to fit their needs. Whether focused on a seasonal shipping peak or fulfilling orders for a sale, cosmetics fulfillment can look different in a warehouse depending on the day.

For instance, a cosmetics distribution center provides a variety of services that include:

  • 3PL Warehousing
  • Kitting and Assembly
  • Reverse Logistics
  • Pick and Pack
  • Retail Inventory Management
  • Transload/Cross Docking
  • Expiring Product Fulfillment

A reputable warehouser works closely with 3PL logistics clients to customize services needed to fulfill orders, prepare them for shipment and transport the freight. The process is seamless from start to finish. A 3PL warehouse works to handle the cosmetics supply fulfillment side so the customer can focus on production and business growth. It may be kitting and assembly for a monthly subscription box of cosmetics supplies or a seasonal order of new products. The services of the cosmetics supply fulfillment center ensure orders are accurate and are delivered promptly.
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Cross Docking for Cosmetics Supply Fulfillment Center

Choosing the right fulfillment partner is crucial, so consider one that uses cross docking since it is considered a best practice for your cosmetics supply fulfillment center. The service of cross docking or transloading cosmetics supplies involves inbound products which are quickly processed and loaded onto outbound trucks. In this setting, retail cross docking or distributor cross docking may be perfect for cosmetic supply fulfillment. Additionally, transloading means taking inbound freight and transferring it to an outbound truck for final delivery.

In most cases with cross docking, goods arrive inbound at the warehouse and are processed into smaller units to then be loaded for outbound distribution. Likewise, with distributor cross docking, bulk shipments of cosmetic supply products will arrive inbound at the dock. However, the freight will be processed and grouped for smaller shipments such as a package of beauty products containing shampoo and conditioner for hair care, and highlighter and volumizer. It means less time spent in the warehouse, thus saving time on storage costs and other fees. Additionally, the quick turnaround time from the dock to delivery scores major points for customer service.

Transloading keeps the freight intact and just moves from an inbound to outbound truck for final delivery to a customer, retailer, or warehouse. The cross docking process is quick which is beneficial when it comes to the cosmetics product supply chain.

The benefits of cross docking and transloading include:

  • Saving time
  • Elimination of warehouse fees
  • Ability to consolidate freight

The shelf life of cosmetics varies making them suitable for transloading and cross docking. Again, inventory tracking will be key for using cross docking services. The rule of thumb with cross docking and transloading is accuracy and speed to ensure things are not mixed up in the process. In addition, technology lends a hand in keeping track of everything to ensure there is no lag time in cosmetic supply order fulfillment from the warehouse.
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The Kitting and Assembly ProcessThe Kitting and Assembly                                           

Cosmetics products are a top sector for kitting and assembly in fulfillment warehouses. The growing marketplace and product demand keeps the supply chain moving to get the latest new item on the shelf and in the hands of consumers. Kitting and assembly allows a number of benefits for shippers including cost savings, and visibility in the warehouse.

Kitting: defines the process of individually selecting products together for shipment.

Assembly: grouping various items together to create one product such as a basket.

Kitting and assembly is best demonstrated in a cosmetic supply fulfillment center for a monthly subscription box of items to sample, or a cosmetic order that may include various lipsticks or eyeshadows. The process of kitting and assembly may be a regular process of the client or they may opt to offer special packages several times of the year. Cosmetic supplies and cosmetics are popular for kitting and assembly so a manufacturer should definitely inquire about customizable service based on their product mix.

Warehouse staff works to fulfill cosmetic supply product orders for bothbrick-and-mortar stores and online retailers as they come into the system. The faster an order is assembled as one product the quicker it can be loaded onto a truck for delivery. The days of sitting for weeks or months on end waiting for order fulfillment are gone. The almost instantaneous process means a cosmetic supply fulfillment center has to bring their A-game to get the job done fast. Today, cosmetic products may be on the shelf a few short days or spend only minutes on the warehouse dock before being processed for outbound shipment.

Kitting and assembly in the warehouse allows manufacturers more time to focus on production without having to juggle the load of fulfillment and distribution. Our dedicated team is ready to assist with all aspects of fulfillment and distribution.
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Reverse Logistics for Cosmetics FulfillmentReverse Logistics For Cosmetics Fulfillment

So what happens to cosmetic supplies if they don’t sell and are left sitting in the warehouse or on store shelves? The inventory needs to be returned to the manufacturer or disposed of in some fashion. Remember cosmetic products have an expiration date whether it’s within a few weeks, a couple of months, or six months to a year. Invesp reports that approximately 30% of all products purchased online will be returned. However, according to data from Appriss Retail, cosmetic returns only make up 6.19% of returns in the $369 billion in overall returns in 2018.

The job of getting products back to the manufacturer or the warehouse can present a challenge if a plan is not in place. How cosmetic fulfillment & distribution centers handle reverse logistics depends largely on the actual product and the client. While some may want to handle product disposal themselves, others may opt for the warehouse to take on this role.

 This is where a cosmetic supply fulfillment center will need to execute a reverse logistics plan to handle transporting the freight back to the facility and follow the shipper’s guidelines of disposal or returning goods to the manufacturer. Reverse logistics can be utilized for recalled items that are sent back to a cosmetic supply fulfillment center.

Although reverse logistics may be an expensive venture at the start, the end result will certainly be a cost savings as the company learns what pitfalls to avoid and works to fine-tune the returns process. A cosmetic supply fulfillment center can serve various needs for customers. And while manufacturers want to avoid it, customers do return goods on a regular basis. Returns tend to make up a large portion of the reverse logistics market. But that is part of providing a good customer experience, which can determine whether or not consumers want to keep buying a company’s products. 

The versatility of a cosmetic fulfillment & distribution center makes it possible to handle any level of service as requested. A best practice for your cosmetic supply fulfillment center is to work closely with product shippers in order to be responsive to their needs regarding reverse logistics.
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Cosmetics Shelf LifeThe Shelf Life Difference

When it comes to a cosmetic supply fulfillment center, the shelf life of products differ in how they are shipped out to customers. Not all cosmetic supplies are alike. 

Organic cosmetics supplies will generally need to move quickly since they are free of preservatives and other chemicals that can extend shelf life. The turnaround time on this group of products is fast, often within hours of being on an inbound truck to then sorted and reloaded on an outbound shipment. Organic or natural products are void of a lot of added chemicals to help the product stabilize while on a shelf in a warehouse or on a retail counter. It is why organic products need to be distributed quickly to avoid expiration in the warehouse and allow customers time to use the product while effective. However, in some situations, organic cosmetics may also require a reverse logistics plan as a way to dispose of any expired items.

It is important to keep all these dates straight so the warehouse inventory remains organized and rotating. In addition, this sector may also require reverse logistics when the need arises. Ask a variety of questions about the services provided to find the right solution.  

Warehouse Fulfillment Tracking

We can’t stress tracking inventory in the warehouse enough. Utilizing a Warehouse Management System, or WMS, is key to any good fulfillment and distribution strategy.

A best practice for manufacturers when searching for a fulfillment and distribution partner is to inquire about the WMS in place. If the warehouse does not employ one of these systems or they don’t allow clients to have around the clock access, this is not the partnership for your company.

A cosmetic supply fulfillment center should have a few key features that allow clients to have an accurate count of inventory at any time. It’s how you see what needs to be shipped out to the warehouse to fulfill orders. A WMS provides several benefits to a client and the bottom-line.

Warehouse Management System helps with:

  • Reduce lost inventory — with the ability to see inventory in the warehouse, a WMS helps keep track of what cosmetic supplies are in the fulfillment center and what is low in stock or about to expire.
  • Helps with the speed of fulfillment and shipping — an accurate view of cosmetic supply items on the shelf in the warehouse in real time allows for faster fulfillment as orders come in rather than waiting for inventory to arrive before products are shipped.
  • Cost savings — money will not be wasted on replacing expired products or those lost in the 3PL warehouse due to tracking.
  • Customer service — no one wants to have a product lost or delayed. But in cases where it does happen, there needs to be a plan in place. A quick response to customer service issues with shipping a product 

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Cosmetics Fulfillment with R+L Global Logistics

R+L Global Logistics offers warehousing service solutions for a variety of fulfillment needs. We are capable of handling a variety of fulfillment and distribution needs including shipping for a cosmetic fulfillment center.

R+L Global offers services including:

  • Order Fulfillment
  • E-Commerce/Marketplace
  • Pack/Repack/ Crating Services
  • Reverse Logistics
  • Expiring product fulfillment
  • Cross-docking
  • Transloading

We are fully equipped to handle the load or provide order fulfillment. When you are ready to ship cosmetic products to the marketplace or directly to consumers, our team will ensure the process is seamless. Whether you own a traditional retail operation or an ecommerce business, R+L Global Logistics has the answers you need.

The professional team at R+L Global Logistics is ready to assist in finding the right fulfillment service to maximize a cosmetics fulfillment center. We realize your customers rely on you to get orders fulfilled and to their door. 

Give us a call at 866-989-3082 to talk to an agent on the R+L Global Logistics team about cosmetics fulfillment options to suit your needs.
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