The Health & Beauty industry is currently the second-largest retail category in the US and one of the fastest-growing consumer markets on the planet. Lead by the Cosmetics and Skin Care categories, both have proved themselves to be items that consumers just can’t get enough of.
However, with roughly 30% of beauty stores closing indefinitely due to the pandemic, consumers, and especially younger generations, have turned to finding their cosmetics online. Unlike many other consumer packaged goods, Health & Beauty products come with unique challenges for ecommerce merchants, largely due to their special handling requirements.
Despite the challenges, the industry is thriving online. Statista estimated that US consumers spent $53.7 billion on Health & Beauty online in 2021, and it shot up to over 11% of total ecommerce spending. It’s growing more quickly than the overall ecommerce market, showing great promise as a place where sellers can earn big returns if they get things right.
Getting things right in beauty products fulfillment, though, is no easy task. From climate controls to hazardous goods to high damage rates, cosmetics and other beauty products present significant challenges.
In this article, we’ll provide you with an inside look into what you need to look for in a 3PL warehouse that will support your profitable growth as a Health & Beauty seller.
What You Need From Your Cosmetics 3PL
While there are many similarities between fulfilling online orders for the Health & Beauty industry and general consumer packaged goods, beauty products have special needs that many 3PL warehouses aren’t equipped to handle.
In this section, we’ll break down the added requirements that 3PLs need to excel in to provide excellent beauty product order fulfillment.
Climate controls for beauty product fulfillment
One of the most important considerations when choosing an order fulfillment company is the type of climate conditions that your products will require. Certain types of cosmetics become damaged when they are stored in conditions that are too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry. Lipstick, some blushes, mascaras, cream based shadows, and more all can melt when exposed to warm temperatures. Once these products reach a certain temperature, their consistency begins to change, and may render the products unusable altogether.
Unfortunately, many 3PLs maintain warehouses at warmer temperatures in order to save money on air conditioning – which makes them too warm for cosmetics. And product loss in the warehouse isn’t even your biggest concern (though it’s enough to destroy a ecommerce business on its own). Even worse, your outsourced warehouse team likely won’t realize that products are damaged before they ship them out. That leads to a mass of customers all receiving damaged products at once, and when they take to social media to complain, it will create a lasting negative impression of your brand.
Therefore, it’s critical that your 3PL warehouse that you choose is equipped to handle, store, and ship cosmetics in optimal climate conditions so that your customers are able to receive the very best version of your product.
A good rule of thumb is to ask your 3PL company whether they guarantee their warehouses at or close to room temperature. Since most cosmetics are designed to be stored in cool, dry conditions in a user’s vanity, they’re usually safe at 72 degrees. That being said, know your product! If it requires more careful heat regulation, then you need to be even more careful up front with your 3PL.
Cahoot has a wide variety of temperature-controlled warehouses, perfect for storing sensitive goods such as cosmetics.
Hazardous goods storage & handling
Certain beauty products have special requirements when it comes to safety and proper handling. In particular, many fragrances can create unsafe conditions and require specific storage different from most other items. Many contain ethyl alcohol, which is flammable and puts them in hazard class 3.
Many 3PL warehouses avoid goods in hazard categories, as they either don’t want to take on extra risk, or they don’t have proper certifications for handling dangerous goods. Make sure that you’re up-front with the order fulfillment partners that you evaluate about hazard classes that your goods fall into, or you risk wasting precious time and money sending them inventory that they legally can’t take.
We know that it can be hard to find a warehouse that not only can accept hazard class goods, but is built for them. Cahoot ecommerce order fulfillment has intentionally curated warehouses with different specialties, including handling dangerous goods. We can go above and beyond in enabling sellers with goods that have special handling needs.
Careful packaging for safe shipping
One metric defines online seller profitability more than any other: customer lifetime value. With digital advertising becoming increasingly expensive, most sellers lose money on new customers. They’re only able to earn a positive bottom line through long-time repeat customers.
In Health & Beauty perhaps more so than any other industry, a fantastic post-purchase customer experience is critical to building repeat rates. Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to safely ship glass and fragile bottles than it is to ship other goods. So, the industry that needs to minimize damage rates the most often has the hardest time doing so.
Unfortunately, many 3PLs that claim they can handle cosmetics and other beauty products treat them like any other good when it comes time to package them for shipping. This is insufficient: fragile items need extra time and care during packing.
Cahoot uses a combination of intelligent packing software and responsive customer service to get packaging right for the toughest goods to ship. We optimize for two things: we keep the package as small as possible to minimize shipping cost, while also getting damage rates as close to 0% as possible. In this way, you save money on shipping while also ensuring that your customers are delighted when they open up their products every time.
Responsive customer service
Though responsive customer service is important for all online sellers, it’s especially important for a cosmetics 3PL given the above additional needs. Beauty & Health has more unique shipping and handling needs, so you need to be able to get in touch with your customer service team quickly to feel confident that they know how to excel with your products.
Look for a 3PL company that offers you a real person to work with your account, and multiple ways to get in touch with them. If it’s a small issue, live chat will do. Thornier challenges, on the other hand, should be governed by a detailed ticket system. And of course, you need a phone line for critical issues.
Cahoot clients love our easy-to-reach and proactive customer service team. Our team is based in the USA, and they take the time to get to know your ecommerce business, so you don’t have to start at square one with a new person every time you submit a ticket. The close relationship we forge with our sellers is foundational to our ability to go above and beyond as a cosmetics 3PL.
Cahoot: the Best Cosmetics 3PL
Cahoot’s order fulfillment service network is built for the rigors of modern ecommerce. We’ll help you level the playing field with marketplaces and delight your customers with a stellar, Amazon-like delivery experience – no matter where you sell. We have pre-built integrations with major marketplaces, shopping carts, and ecommerce platforms to fuel your multi-channel growth.
Our innovative peer-to-peer model sets us apart by enabling us to offer low-cost, fast fulfillment by design. We recruit top-tier ecommerce merchants with their own warehouses to join our network as order fulfillment partners, and then our intelligent shipping software and control team keeps the whole system connected and running efficiently. Since we’re unlocking excess fulfillment capacity that was lying idle, we’re able to offer lower costs.
Critically for Health & Beauty sellers with the special handling needs we outlined above, we have a wide variety of merchants fulfilling for others as part of our network. Unlike other 3PLs that are building cookie-cutter warehouses designed to store easy-to-fulfill goods, we have specialists in temperature-controlled fulfillment, hazmat, and more. Our flexibility is part of what distinguishes us and makes us the best choice for sellers seeking a reliable cosmetics 3PL.
If you’d like to find out how Cahoot can help your ecommerce business, please get in touch with us. We can’t wait to show you how beauty products order fulfillment was meant to be.