Marketplace Conditions and the Impact on Demand
Ecommerce shipping and fulfillment continues to be a huge opportunity for third-party logistics (3PL) warehouses going into the new year. The global pandemic and resulting quarantine period turned millions of consumers into avid online shoppers, and it seems there’s no going back for many of them. With that, supply chain efficiencies became key to satisfying a seemingly limitless digital customer base for brands. An example of this is in the cosmetics industry, which is projected to become a $463.5 billion market by the year 2027.
What does this mean for 3PLs? According to our latest 3PL Warehouse Benchmark Report, 37% of companies surveyed say that diversifying service offerings or verticals is one of their top growth opportunities for 2022. If you have thought about becoming more involved in the cosmetics industry, or have clients interested in cosmetics, this article will dive into some of the special considerations that come along with cosmetics fulfillment and logistics.
Considerations for Storage and Shipping
Cosmetics logistics are unique because of the liquid or powdery nature of the products. Cosmetics products like makeup and skincare require active management of expiration dates. Furthermore, they need to be stored, packed, and shipped carefully so as not to damage any of the containers. If shipped or stored improperly, the product inside can ruin others nearby if it spills out or becomes rancid.
In addition, popular shipping carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx each have their own standards that need to be met when it comes to fulfilling shipments of cosmetics for safety and sanitary reasons, especially those that may contain flammable ingredients. Perfumes and nail polishes are examples of products that are likely to contain alcohol and be flammable. Shipping carriers may also have special requirements for packing fragile items.
Essentials for Serving Cosmetics Customers
3PL warehouses are increasingly turning to tools like a Warehouse Management System (WMS) to help them support customers with unique needs, like cosmetics customers. Below are some of the ways that a WMS can solve some of the challenges inherent in cosmetics fulfillment.
Automated Inventory Tracking
Automating the tracking of inventory can dramatically boost efficiency when dealing with cosmetics products. Orders often require the mixing and matching of various products, all with different expiration dates. Manually tracking the quantities and expiration dates of a multitude of small cosmetic items can not only greatly slow down fulfillment but lead to errors that may result in the shipment of expired product or in a package being deemed undeliverable by the carrier.
WMS software often comes equipped with built-in inventory tracking capabilities because they are valuable for any product, but especially cosmetics. If item information can be entered, including photo references, expiration dates, and packing instructions, fulfillment and restocking of cosmetic items can be greatly simplified. 3PLs can also use a system like this to track the picking and packing of orders and the inventory count in the system can automatically update as items are packed or set aside. This allows the 3PL warehouse to predictively determine when they are running low on a particular item, which SKUs went out with which shipments, and if batches of products are nearing expiration.
Kitting & Assembly Tools
Unique packaging is a prominent branding strategy in the cosmetics industry. Customer requirements can range from placing items in a box to elaborate and highly personalized presentations. However, this can add a layer of complexity to packing and shipping orders. As mentioned before, depending on the carrier and the contents of a package, packing requirements can vary greatly.
If you are utilizing WMS technology with the inventory and item tracking capabilities mentioned above, you may be able to input assembly instructions into the item information, letting your staff know of the unique packing requirements for each item or set of items. This, again, helps streamline the process and reduces errors, ensuring a seamless experience for customers and end consumers alike. Confidence in the ability to accurately package items meeting specific requirements allows 3PLs to provide more value to customers. If you have the right tools to do so, you can add value without slowing down or burdening your workers.
Shopping Cart Connectivity
With a growing proportion of cosmetics sales online, shopping cart connectivity in a WMS can greatly help reduce friction in the process for 3PLs and their customers. Primarily, connecting ecommerce shopping carts allows a 3PL customer’s orders to transfer seamlessly from the shopping cart into the WMS for fulfillment.
Furthermore, shopping cart and marketplace integrations can open new sales channels for 3PLs. The more popular shopping carts they connect with, the broader the customer base they can serve. WMS platforms provide pre-wired and/or custom shopping cart connections to many popular shopping carts like Shopify, Amazon, Etsy, and others where cosmetics are sold. Many WMS companies offer technical support to assist with setting up shopping carts that 3PLs need to serve their customers. In addition, integration platforms such as Extensiv Integration Manager can help facilitate connections to 100+ order sources.
Streamlined, Error-Free Picking & Packing
Cosmetics picking and packing needs to be done carefully to ensure that multiple small items get placed in the right box and packed properly for safe shipment. A streamlined and efficient picking and packing process can help ensure that this painstaking process doesn’t slow down staff. One way to increase efficiency in the process is to focus on minimizing errors. If a WMS has a picking and packing module, this may come with picking and packing safeguards, ensuring that items are packed in the proper box before closing out tasks, that shipments with multiple items are packed in the correct sequence, and that kitting and assembly procedures are followed.
Another way to streamline picking and packing is to introduce mobile scanning. This way, workers can pick multiple items without having to return to the pack station until they’re ready to pack. This can be a huge time saver, as well as reduce errors by not forcing employees to rely on memory and allowing them to work on the go. If orders in the WMS changed or get re-prioritized, a mobile scanning application may pick up that information and keep employees from performing needless work.
Extensiv 3PL Warehouse Manager offers all the above benefits in one cloud-based location. In addition, add-ons like SmartScan and Small Parcel Suite can help 3PLs minimize time and effort spent on picking and packing orders. Request your demo today to learn how Extensiv 3PL Warehouse Manager can automate your cosmetics fulfillment processes.