2021 was a banner year for most beauty e-commerce companies. While brick-and-mortar retailers struggled to regain pre-pandemic foot traffic, online shops picked up the slack. Now, more consumers than ever are on board with the ease and efficiency of shopping for beauty products online.
If you’re looking to maintain your store’s momentum from last year or hoping to jump on the bandwagon as a startup, you’ll want to read these tips for navigating the challenges of domestic and international shipping.
Dual Hurdles Faced by Beauty Product E-Commerce Companies
Import Supply Chain Issues
E-commerce businesses in the beauty sector face two potential obstacles right now. The first is managing the need for imported materials, such as ingredients to make the products. With supply chain hold ups across the globe, it’s time to stock up now–if you haven’t already. Multiple interrelated factors are affecting both inbound and outbound shipping, including:
- Port congestion at major points of entry.
- Cutbacks on airline flights.
- Lack of port container space.
- Labor shortages for port unloading, customs and trucking.
Outbound Slowdowns, Especially Delays at Customs
The same factors listed above affect e-commerce on the outbound side (shipping outside of the U.S.) as well. However, even without the pandemic-related hurdles, beauty e-tailers who ship internationally have another issue to contend with: customs delays at foreign destinations.
These delays can be avoided in many circumstances when you plan in advance for the nuances of shipping in your unique industry.
Here are our top tips to get ahead of slowdowns that waylay your competitors.
Logistics for Beauty Products: Tips from the Pros
Use Predictive Metrics to Manage Supplies and Ingredients
On the inbound side of shipping, you want to make sure you have just enough supplies for manufacturing. Challenges of maintaining this balance include:
- Running out of storage space for supplies, especially time-sensitive items.
- Having items in storage exceed their expiration date before you can use them.
- Risking demand decreases for certain products, and getting stuck with unusable ingredients or packaging materials.
- Incurring a cash flow crunch after stocking too heavily.
This is why predictive metrics are essential to managing your supply chain to hit a happy medium. For this, you need comprehensive data, such as past sales reports that outline historical demand and current demand (for both your business and the industry). The more you can leverage data and integrate it across your entire process, the more accurate your forecasts are likely to be.
An e-commerce fulfillment partner with experience in both domestic and global logistics will be extremely helpful here. They can find the ideal logistics solution for your business to expedite delivery times and reduce costs.
From importing raw materials to handling customs paperwork, look for an e-commerce fulfillment partner with a global logistics team to help mitigate any potential delays from current supply chain issues, so you can plan accordingly.
Think of Customer Interactions from End-to-End
Getting a jump on shipping challenges starts with how you conceptualize the consumer interaction. Shipping doesn’t begin when you hand off a parcel to your carrier or even when the customer places an order; it starts with your product line and your website.
We’ll talk about new product development below, but first let’s look at website creation and how that intersects with shipping. Here are some ways you can address various shipping concerns long before your customer enters their credit card number:
- Use page banners or headers to announce shipping times, especially during peak season or if there are anticipated delays.
- Set pricing to include shipping.
- Offer different pricing tiers dependent on shipping speed.
- Provide parcel tracking from the point of departure to destination.
- Notify customers if certain products cannot be shipped to their country.
- Inform buyers of any taxes or duties they are responsible to pay for before a purchase.
The idea is to give the consumer a realistic, transparent timeline for delivery.
Create New Products with Logistics in Mind
Once you start shipping internationally, you have to think about how practical new products will be to store, transport and move overseas. How long will they be warehoused? Are there any countries where shipping could be an issue?
It’s important to know that product ingredients and packaging materials are all subject to different laws, many of which are stricter than those in the U.S., particularly in Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom.
Understand Destination Importation Laws
Knowing the ins and outs of foreign importation rules is a must if you want to ship beauty products internationally. Exporting cosmetics from the U.S., for example, requires a thorough understanding of:
- Regulated, controlled, and banned substances, including animal-based ingredients, certain chemical compounds and product formulations that impact the environment.
- Which documentation is required at the point of entry.
- Taxes and duties, along with destination de minimis values below which no extra charges are requested.
For example, selenium, triclosan, and nitrosamines are all permitted in products sold in the U.S., but they are not permitted in products for sale in Canada. Labeling requirements are stricter, too. The E.U. bans over 1,000 chemicals in cosmetics and beauty goods, while the U.S. FDA has forbidden fewer than a dozen.
A fulfillment partner with extensive experience in global logistics will be of great value when it comes to importing ingredients or exporting your products to global customers. They can assist with these areas, as well:
- Completing accurate paperwork for customs declarations.
- Staying current with new overseas laws pertaining to beauty products.
- Planning storage and logistics needs.
- Suggesting alternative solutions or shipping routes (for example, if ingredients or formulations need to meet specific destination requirements).
Ideally, you want logistics experts that can handle importation, exportation and fulfillment.
Expert Solutions for the Beauty Industry with GLF E-Commerce Fulfillment
At GLF, we are pros when it comes to the complexity and fast-paced environment of the online beauty industry.
With 20 years of experience in e-commerce fulfillment, GLF takes pride in offering transparent pricing, unmatched reliability and personalized services. Our team takes the time upfront to learn your goals and work with you as a proactive partner to create custom solutions to help grow your business. Experience the GLF difference by contacting us today.