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At $300 billion a year in sales, health and personal care ranks as the second largest retail category in the United States — and the market is growing! New cosmetics trends and niches are popping up every day, and the rise of ecommerce has democratized the beauty industry, lowering barriers to entry.
Selling via ecommerce comes with the need for an order fulfilment strategy. Many cosmetics companies choose to partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider to simplify their operations and take the hassle out of fulfiling customer orders.
Self-fulfiling orders can take up valuable time that could instead be used to develop new products, reach out to influencers, or attend industry events. By partnering with a 3PL, you can free up time to focus on growing your business.
If you’re ready to save time and money by outsourcing fulfilment, read on to find out what to look for in 3PL for your cosmetics brand.
[Hear a beauty brand owner’s success story: Why Moving Away From Self-Fulfilment Was My Smartest Business Decision to Date]
What to look for in a cosmetics 3PL
The right 3PL for your cosmetics company does four vital things:
- Seamlessly connects to every platform you sell on
- Empowers you to showcase your brand
- Allows you to easily manage your inventory
- Ships makeup out to customers quickly, easily, and transparently
1. Seamlessly connects to every platform you sell on
As your cosmetics brand grows, you’ll likely move beyond selling on just one ecommerce platform or marketplace. For example, many brands start out with a Shopify store before expanding to sell on Shopify, Ebay, and Amazon. That’s why it’s critical to work with a 3PL that seamlessly integrates with all of the places you sell online. It should be simple to connect the systems and begin a two-way push of data for more automation and greater visibility.
ShipBob’s fulfilment software seamlessly integrates with major ecommerce platforms and marketplaces. As soon as a customer submits an order, ShipBob automatically fulfils the order for you and offers real-time visibility into orders, delivery tracking, inventory tracking, sales channels, and more.
2. Empowers you to showcase your brand
When customers choose to purchase from you, they’re not just buying your products — they’re buying your brand experience, too. Cosmetics purchases are personal choices, and shoppers want to feel connected to the brands they use each day. It’s important to work with a 3PL that understands this and empowers you to highlight your brand through the delivery process.
If you only sell online, a customer’s first in-person interaction with your products is when they receive their first order, and what they see on their doorstep makes an impression. One study found that 34% of people say the use of branded packaging affects their perception of the brand or retailer that shipped the item.
Your packaging can serve as a marketing asset, too; the same study reported that 40% of online shoppers are more likely to recommend products to their friends if they come in branded packaging. In the cosmetics industry, word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of marketing; make sure that you’re giving your customers something (beautiful and branded) to talk about.
How does this relate back to choosing a 3PL? Some ecommerce fulfilment providers insist on putting their branding on the boxes they use to ship your products — not yours. Make sure that you choose a 3PL that allows you to provide your own custom packaging, as well as one that offers the ability to include printed inserts or branded tissue paper with an order.
For example, ShipBob provides clients the opportunity to showcase their brand throughout the unboxing experience using branded packaging.
3. Allows you to easily manage your inventory
The nature of cosmetics products makes inventory management a critical part of choosing a 3PL, especially if you sell natural or organic products. These products tend to have a shorter shelf life, so it’s important to be able to manufacture and ship your 3PL the right amount of product.
Choose a 3PL that gives you a 360-view of your inventory and sales, including sales trends that can help you improve inventory forecasting. Your 3PL should also allow you to separate inventory by lot numbers to make sure that older product leaves the shelves first and no expired products ever get shipped out.
There are a wide variety of other inventory management features you may want from your 3PL, including bundling products for promotions, merging inventory information across ecommerce platforms and marketplaces, and setting reorder notifications. A reorder point formula calculates the stock levels at which you need to get more inventory from your supplier.
ShipBob’s software automatically alert you when your stock dips below a predetermined level, giving you ample time to send more inventory to your 3PL and helping to prevent stockouts (and disappointed customers).
4. Ships orders out to customers quickly, easily, and transparently
Customers place their trust in your brand when they choose your products, and they expect transparency about not only the cosmetics they’re using, but the status of their online orders. Work with a 3PL that integrates data from multiple sources to give complete visibility into a lifecycle of an order, from the moment the order is placed to when it arrives at its final destination.
The technology that connects all ecommerce platforms and marketplaces to your 3PL’s fulfilment centres also automatically keeps customers updated on their packages. Once an order has shipped, the 3PL’s system can automatically send confirmation back to your ecommerce platform, which in turn will forward tracking information to your customers.
If customers ask you questions about their orders, you can quickly and confidently answer them with the most up-to-date information. This transparency builds customer trust and brand loyalty, making them even more likely to reorder once their product runs out and recommend your products to their friends and family.
Our products were almost always sent via USPS since they’re small and lightweight. USPS offers the most affordable shipping option but the transit time can be brutal. The thing with acne care is that when you need it, you need it now. It’s important that our products are accessible.
So right from the jump, we opted to get our products into three ShipBob fulfilment centres across the US instead of one. This way, we would be able to decrease shipping times for more customers in different regions of the country.
In the end, I want speed. I want customers to compare our delivery time to Amazon.
Dwight Lee, Co-founder and COO at Hero Cosmetics
Learn more about choosing the right 3PL
If your cosmetics brand is ready to outsource fulfilment, choosing the right 3PL can help you save time and money while delighting your customers. Understanding what to look for in a potential partner is key to finding a 3PL that you trust to handle every part of the retail fulfilment process.
From unique packaging to fast and affordable shipping, ShipBob partners with fast-growing health, beauty, and wellness brands by offering a full suite of fulfilment services.
Download our guide: Shipping Solutions for Health, Beauty, and Wellness Brands to learn more.