For any cosmetics or personal care products supplier, it is vital to work with an order fulfillment company that understands your industry, writes Charlie Walker, head of sales and marketing at Walker Logistics
This article is sponsored by Walker Logistics
Successful omni-channel cosmetics retail supply chains require expertise in numerous areas, so choosing a third party logistics (3PL) specialist that will be the right fit for your business can be a daunting process.
There was a time when third party logistics meant standardised transportation and warehousing, nowadays it encompasses a comprehensive range of services for all aspects of the supply chain – from multi storage layouts to flexible assembly operations to efficient kitting and re-working to ensure products are picked and dispatched to suit the multitude of ways they are requested.
So there are many things to consider: Does the company have a proven track record? Is its geographic location right for you? Will the 3PL offer a scalable service capable of growing with your business’s needs? Does it offer the range of services such as an optimised warehouse layout for the products, specialist and potentially environmentally friendly packaging suitable for the products, multiple picking methods and re-work capabilities you are looking for? And so on.
Because cosmetics logistics can throw up myriad complex and often unique challenges I firmly believe that companies in the cosmetics and personal care space are more likely to enjoy a successful relationship with their logistics partner if the 3PL has experience of the market in which the client operates.
For example, when it comes to online sales the way that consumers receive their items – or the ‘unboxing experience’ - is hugely important to cosmetics companies.
‘Unboxing’ is about creating a memorable moment and a lasting impression for customers when they open their delivery. It means carefully selecting packaging and shipping materials and giving considerable thought and attention to the way an order is presented when it arrives at the consumer’s home.
Such is the emphasis now placed on ‘unboxing’ by retailers and consumers alike that YouTube features more than 1.5 million videos devoted to it! Meanwhile, a recent survey indicated that 40 per cent of consumers are more likely to place repeat orders with an online seller that presents them with goods swathed in premium packaging.
The need to refine the ‘unboxing experience’ means that fulfillment companies must be able to demonstrate that they not only have the technology to pick cosmetic orders accurately and quickly but that they also have the expertise and commitment to detail that will ensure that items are cleverly and attractively presented in a way that delivers the ‘wow factor’ when a consumer opens his or her parcel.
But putting together a great ‘unboxing experience’ can get expensive and for some companies it can be difficult to justify the cost. This is why at Walker Logistics we work closely with many of our cosmetics clients to source the most suitable and cost-efficient packaging, such as branded boxes, tissue paper, stickers, labels, gift notes and so on.
For instance, Walker has been providing a range of services to one particular cosmetics firm for over ten years. From the outset the contract has involved a high level of product adaption of labeling, kitting and rework tasks, and Walker has become increasingly involved in the design of the company’s merchandising and product packaging.
We work closely with the cosmetics company and their design agency on packaging styles. Sometimes the agency will produce some amazing concepts that would look fabulous on a retailer’s shelf, but often they are simply not practical from a logistics point of view or would cost a fortune to assemble – so we have to advise the client to turn them down.
While such guidance can be demoralising for the designers, it is invaluable for the client.
We also undertake extensive tests to record how long various packing options take to complete so the client knows the labour costs that their preferred presentation option will incur.
By taking this partnership approach we are able to guide our clients towards an ‘unboxing’ solution that not only looks fantastic, but is also highly cost efficient.
Indeed, in several cases we have been able to demonstrate that it is possible to pack and dispatch orders in attractive, bespoke packaging for little more than the cost of using a generic cardboard box – which means our clients and their customers all get to enjoy a great ‘unboxing experience’.
So, for cosmetic companies, logistics plays a key role in driving customer satisfaction but, don’t assume that bespoke services are only available through the largest logistics companies: often the opposite is true.
Based in Berkshire, Walker Logistics Ltd provides a diverse range of supply chain and fulfillment services to a number of cosmetics companies ranging in size from niche expanding brands through to large household names.
'Cosmetics Business in conversation with' is a series of exclusive video interviews with leading companies in the beauty and personal care industry, conducted by our award-winning team of B2B beauty journalists.
This interview was led by Julia Wray, Editor of Cosmetics Business magazine. To learn more about the Cosmetics Business team, visit About Cosmetics Business.