Fulfillment Visibility: The Black Hole of Cosmetic Distribution

Imagine hitting a golf ball while blindfolded and on a course you have never played.  Without knowing the distance to the hole or the layout of the golf course, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than of landing on the fairway. 

The same is true for cosmetic logistics.  All too often, cosmetic companies are handed a golf club that may or may not match the scenario in front of them.  They lack visibility.  Just as a round of golf can quickly go awry based on poor information, a lack of visibility in your cosmetic supply chain can spell disaster.  To combat this problem on the golf course, you have caddies and yardage books to collaborate with and exchange advice; to combat this in your logistical planning, you have Third Party Logistics Providers and supply chain optimization.

In 2013, the cosmetic industry raked in $56.6 billion in revenue.  According to Statista, revenues will rise to over $62 billion by 2016 (that is 5% growth per year!).  Clearly, cosmetic companies are succeeding in generating demand for their products.  But are these companies missing out on sales by not knowing when and where their products are needed? As competition heats up, logistics management has quickly become a sustainable, competitive advantage in the cosmetics industry.

There are many issues in cosmetics distribution that require high levels of process visibility:

  1. Handling and tracking high volumes of products
  2. Organizing thousands of stock keeping units (SKU) for easy, quick picking
  3. Understanding temperature and handling restrictions
  4. Conforming and keeping up to date with the latest Hazmat laws/regulations
  5. Reducing costs while increasing order accuracy

All of the above variables can be managed more efficiently with access to the right information.

However, this is easier said than done.  Visibility into logistical and transportation operations can pose a challenge.  As stated earlier, cosmetics companies are having no problem generating demand.  But how is that demand being driven?  Mostly, through the rapid introduction of new product lines and trends.  With new lines being created so quickly, the sheer number of SKUs can become overwhelming.

To combat the growing complexity of cosmetics fulfillment, it is imperative to have strong processes and software, including a best-of-breed warehouse management system (WMS) and transportation management system (TMS).   With a strong suite of software, you will be able to track every shipment, reduce expenses due to overstocking or understocking, increase order accuracy, and reduce inventory shrinkage.

It is vital to leverage technology and partnerships in order to keep each element of your cosmetic logistic operations in sync and in sight.  At Barrett Distribution Centers, process visibility is a major element of supply chain management.  Through technology and method, enhanced visibility can equal an enhanced bottom line.  For more information on improving the visibility of your fulfillment operations, click here.        

Retail Logistics