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Beauty ecommerce fulfillment: What you need to know

Oct 19, 2023 - Rich Reba
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The beauty and personal care market amounts to a 97+ billion dollar industry, nearly quadrupling between 2015 and 2022 on the ecommerce front. If you’re a beauty, skincare or cosmetic brand, big or small, then you surely know the challenges that come with shipping and fulfilling orders in this space. The unique nature of beauty products calls for various special considerations: expiry dates, special packaging, fragile containers, quality control measures, you name it! 

If your brand is ready to streamline your fulfillment processes, this is the guide for you. Read on to learn more about the best ways to optimize your brand strategies.

Understanding the beauty industry

Before diving into the complexities of shipping and fulfillment for beauty products, let’s get a good grasp of the beauty industry itself (and your place in it!). The beauty industry encompasses a wide range of products. This includes cosmetics, skincare, haircare, fragrances and whatever personal care products you can think of. Each of these categories has its own unique characteristics and demands. 

Understanding your specific niche within the beauty industry is the first step toward building an effective strategy. Certain cosmetics fulfillment may require special handling due to their fragile nature, while skincare products come in various sizes and packaging. Haircare products might have specific temperature requirements to maintain their quality. Recognizing these nuances will help you tailor your fulfillment strategy to meet the unique needs of your beauty brand.


Inventory management

Given the diversity of products, colors and sizes that beauty brands typically offer, maintaining accurate stock levels is a constant challenge. This requires a strong inventory management system that tracks product quantities in real time and triggers restocking orders when necessary.

If you’re in the beauty industry, then you know that the shelf life of products creates an additional challenge. These shelf lives can vary significantly between products, from months to years. To avoid issues with expired or outdated products, beauty businesses must implement a first-in, first-out (FIFO) inventory rotation system. This ensures that older items are sold first, minimizing the risk of selling expired goods.


Order processing + packaging

With customers expecting quick and accurate deliveries, streamlined order processing is essential. Having an efficient order management system that can handle multiple orders at the same time is the best way to ensure quick delivery.

Packaging is another consideration in beauty product fulfillment. Some beauty items are delicate and prone to damage during transit. To protect these products, specialized packaging materials like bubble wrap, cushioned boxes and inner packaging sleeves are often required. Ensuring that packaging is both protective and visually appealing is vital in the beauty industry, where aesthetics can play a significant role.

Lastly, don’t forget about the environmental implications of your packaging. Is there any completely unnecessary plastic or paperboard that can be removed? Does each piece of material serve a purpose? Reducing the amount of packaging as much as possible will gain the respect of conscious consumers. Relying on recycled and biodegradable materials will also help to lessen your environmental impact as a brand.


Shipping and delivery

Offering a variety of shipping methods, including express and standard delivery, can cater to different customer needs. Some people are interested in receiving their package way sooner than others. Providing tracking information and estimated delivery dates can enhance transparency and customer satisfaction.

Because of how fragile certain cosmetic items can be, it's essential to partner with reliable carriers experienced in handling fragile items. Fragile shipments should be marked clearly, and temperature-sensitive products may require climate-controlled shipping options.


Returns and exchanges

Returns and exchanges are inevitable in the ecommerce world, and the beauty industry is no exception. Handling returns and exchanges can be made even more difficult because of the nature of beauty products themselves. Once they’re opened, used or tested, they usually cannot be resold due to health hazards. 

To make the exchange and returns process as smooth as possible, online beauty shops should have clear policies in place and a user-friendly system. Establishing a system for inspecting returned products to determine their resale viability can help to minimize losses. 

Providing exceptional customer service during the returns and exchanges process is yet another opportunity to build brand loyalty. Promptly responding to customer inquiries and addressing their concerns can turn a potentially negative experience into a positive one.


Quality control

Beauty fulfillment centers must implement rigorous quality control measures to check that products meet the highest standards. After all, these are usually products that can pose a significant health risk if something goes wrong.

It’s a good idea to inspect items for damage, verify expiration dates, and check for accurate labeling and packaging. Implementing regular training for fulfillment center staff can help ensure that they are well-versed in these quality control protocols. You’ll also need to have a system for reporting and addressing quality issues promptly to keep customers as happy as possible.


Regulations and compliance

Personal care products are subject to numerous regulations and compliance requirements, both at the federal and state levels. To adhere to these regulations, all beauty brands must stay informed about the latest legal requirements for product labeling, ingredient disclosure, and safety testing.

Partnering with legal experts or consultants well-versed in beauty product regulations can be beneficial in navigating this complex landscape. Compliance is a legal obligation– but it’s also a way to build trust with customers, as they expect safe and accurately labeled products.


Technology and automation in fulfillment

Implementing an order management system that integrates with inventory and shipping solutions can make your fulfillment process even more efficient.

Automation can also play a role in product inspection and quality control, helping to identify and address issues more quickly and accurately. Analytics tools can provide valuable insights into customer preferences and trends, enabling your businesses to make data-driven decisions.


Order fulfillment in the beauty industry

Implementing even a few of these simple changes can drastically improve your current fulfillment processes. Plus, accessing the data, technology, and software you may need to automize and optimize the process may be easier than you thought. Thanks to the popularity of ecommerce and online shopping, there are plenty of online platforms and tools specifically designed to get your orders out efficiently and on time. Learn how beauty brand Hanni scaled with to deliver on their brand promises.