A Beautiful Nightmare: Cosmetic Logistics and its Unique Challenges

While we at Envoy Warehousing and Logistics successfully provide logistics solutions to many industries, the cosmetic industry is perhaps one of the most interesting and challenging.

Logistics challenges can be tough to mitigate for many logistics providers, but for those such as Envoy that have an established network and a proven history of success in cosmetics fulfilment, it presents an opportunity to review what it takes to succeed in what we refer to as the beautiful nightmare: cosmetic logistics and its unique challenges.

But first things first: what comprises the cosmetics industry?

The Nature of the Cosmetics Industry

When we discuss the cosmetics industry, it is more than just lipsticks, mascara and blush. It includes all manner of body essentials, such as serums, creams, lotions, toiletries, hair care products and more. In fact, Forbes predicts that the global industry will grow to roughly $390 billion in the next few years.

In order to successfully tackle the logistics challenges presented by a certain industry, we have to understand its supply chain and what drives its consumer base. 

The Cosmetic Supply Chain

The cosmetics industry’s supply chain is a global one, and therefore, highly complicated. Sought after ingredients in products that are found only in certain regions of the world require a robust and reliable chain of manufacturers, shippers and distributors to get the product to consumers across the globe.

While cosmetics companies are dealing with complex supply chain processes (and issues!), they must also contend with the sensitive nature of the products they are selling. These are, after all, products that interact with the human body, meaning they are highly regulated. That includes ensuring the specialized ingredients in their products are protected from the effects of weather, humidity, temperature, light and shock, which can degrade products and ultimately spoil them. To do this requires careful storage and transportation throughout the supply chain until the product is in the hands of the customer. 

The Customer 

Cosmetics customers are notoriously fickle. They want their products now while it is new and a hot commodity. The reason is that cosmetics companies often market their products to customers through celebrities and influencers, which can send demand skyrocketing rather quickly. 

This means that companies need to have enough stock on hand to ship to retailers and customers fast while not keeping too much product in inventory, inventory that takes up valuable space when demand drops. This is why an effective and efficient logistics plan is so important: it ultimately drives customer satisfaction. 

So, what are the cosmetic industry’s unique challenges and how can 3PL partners help?

Due to the specialized materials used to make cosmetic products, its strict regulation and the sensitive nature of supply chains in general, these are the specific logistical challenges faced by the cosmetics industry:

1. Warehouse Management

As discussed previously, the sensitive materials used in producing cosmetics mean they are heavily regulated by health authorities and require specific conditions to be maintained throughout their journey through the supply chain until they reach the customer. 

For example, some products require specific temperature controls such as refrigeration, becoming perishable if the necessary conditions are not consistently maintained. Because of this, 3PL partners working with cosmetic clients require certain licenses to be able to handle products. 

To help mitigate this challenge, some logistics services providers employ the help of on-site pharmacists to ensure the product’s shelf-life, packaging and overall integrity have been maintained.

2. Shipping Conditions and Traceability

Because the cosmetics industry is based on ensuring high-demand items are delivered on time and in safe conditions for human consumption, many cosmetics manufacturers are relying on logistics services partners to provide intelligent supply chain management.   

This means being able to provide real-time information about the location of the product within the supply chain as well as data about the physical shipping conditions surrounding the product.

3PL partners like Envoy who invest in technology connected to the Internet-of-Things such as sensors, software and other technologies that provide key data points about their shipments help eliminate the guesswork for cosmetics clients wondering about the status and condition of their shipped products. 

3. Visibility

The fact that most cosmetic companies use contract manufacturers to make their products and/or third-party logistics partners to distribute their products means they don’t often have a clear idea of the logistics and transportation portions of their supply chain. 

That is why it is important for a 3PL partner to utilize a Transportation Management System (TMS) to boost visibility and ensure a smoother flow of goods throughout the supply chain. Importantly, TMS allows for route mapping and data-driven simulations that can find transportation efficiencies and ultimately, drive down costs.

When it comes to cosmetics fulfillment, let Envoy Warehousing and Logistics be your trusted 3PL partner!

The experts at Envoy know better than any 3PL provider in Canada the challenges of warehousing and order fulfillment when it comes to sensitive products like cosmetics. 

Luckily, we have a history of proven success and experience in warehousing and fulfillment services in cosmetics and many other industries. If you are shipping within Canada or from Canada to the U.S.,contact us today or get a quote to learn more about how our 3PL services can be tailored to your industry.

Have a question about our pricing? We offer cost-effective and transparent pricing.

Call: 1-905-831-0006