Health & Beauty Order Fulfillment: Getting the Details Right Boosts Customer Loyalty

By
Productiv

Think of the range of consumer health & beauty products — skincare to cosmetics, hair care to oral care, etc. — and within each, an endless variety of shapes, sizes, colors, volumes, etc. Now you have an idea of how complex and detailed health & beauty order fulfillment can be, and the level of precision required.

Whether your product is truly distinctive or a commodity item, consumers have a vast array of choices and little patience or tolerance for products that don’t come as advertised. The highly competitive nature of the space dictates that your order fulfillment, whether B2B and wholesale, DTC or a mix, hits world class accuracy SLAs.

Understanding Customer Expectations in Health & Beauty

Of course the product has to be safe and effective in whatever job it’s given to do, but how well each order is fulfilled is a primary driver of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Retail and wholesale customers in this category have strict requirements for shipments to be accurate and complete, and arrive on time and in full (OTIF). On the DTC side, consumers look for product quality, effectiveness, safety, and reliability. They also demand exceptional customer service, including fast, accurate order fulfillment and easy returns.

Increasingly, transparency about product ingredients and sourcing is a high priority for today's informed consumers. Whatever the channel, getting the details right is crucial for both first impressions and driving repeat business.

The Importance of Efficient, Accurate Fulfillment

Productiv, a leading 3PL specializing in retail and omnichannel fulfillment and distribution, represents the perfect marriage of technology with industry savvy borne of deep experience. Especially in the area of consumer health & beauty fulfillment, Productiv’s teams, both embedded and in our own warehouses, handle high throughput (more than 2 million kits per year) with a relentless quality focus. Here’s a quick run-through of our efficient health & beauty warehouse operations.

Receiving, Inspection and Putaway

Component materials for kitting health & beauty products can come from manufacturers around the world, so receiving and inspection are done thoroughly and accurately. With cosmetics, for example, materials need to be verified based on variations in color, fill, or size and checked for any potential damages before being received. Productiv’s QC and line leads address issues on the spot, including shortages requiring replacement orders. This ensures adequate lead time so you can hit your retailer’s delivery-by date.

Once a shipment arrives and is inspected, Productiv’s team enters all shipment information into the warehouse management system (WMS). The system then creates a barcode “license plate” that is affixed to each single-SKU pallet. In a large warehouse with tens of thousands of SKUs, barcode scanning is necessary to ensure every product can be quickly located when needed for picking and production, whether kitted or right to packing and shipping.

Inventory Management

Effective inventory management is crucial in health & beauty product warehouses due to the vast array of similar or nearly identical SKUs. Advanced inventory management software meticulously tracks each product's specific attributes, such as type, shade, or size.

Productiv’s digital scanning significantly reduces the likelihood of human error. Detailed bin and shelf labeling is used to efficiently organize storage space, so that each SKU is stored separately and is easily accessible for picking. This strategy is essential for maintaining a high degree of order accuracy and operational efficiency in such a diverse environment with so many similar SKUs.

Production

Once an order is received, Productiv’s highly skilled associates locate and pick items using handheld scanners and place them into a staging area. Each SKU gets a tag listing the date of pick, job number and quantity, and the total number of pallets picked.

Each item undergoes a second quality check to ensure it matches the order requirements and is not defective. Following this inspection, products are packed based on the brand’s standards to enhance a great end-customer experience. Special attention is given to packing fragile items to prevent damage during transit.

Quality Control

If there are multiple lines for a production run, each one utilizes a First Article Inspection (FAI). Productiv uses this systematic process to assess whether each item or kit exactly meets customer requirements and specifications. During an FAI, one to five items are selected at random from the first run for testing. These items are used as a “golden sample” for the rest of the production run.

The Productiv Difference

In one instance, Productiv’s quality inspectors immediately caught a material defect in a 16-item perfume kit and shut down production. After a 100% inspection, enough suitable material was found to restart a line. A replacement shipment arrived within 48 hours by dedicated truck, a second line was restarted, and the three-day production schedule was met to hit the client’s must arrive by date.

In another, a vendor accidentally sent cartons of mixed SKUs for a ten-item eyeliner kit, which was caught by quality inspectors. The incorrect material was sent back to the vendor and replacements came a week later. As production was already two weeks ahead of schedule, the snafu didn’t prevent Productiv from successfully hitting the client’s delivery deadline.

Health & Beauty Fulfillment Demands a High Precision, Highly Accurate Process

The fact that consumer health & beauty involves a huge variety of often similar SKUs that can easily get mixed doesn’t mean a lower bar for production quality and accuracy. It takes a highly meticulous process, borne of years of industry experience, to meet that kind of standard.

In all client engagements, Productiv’s lean engineering principles convert fulfillment lines from “Just in Case” stockpiling to “Just in Time,” efficiently scheduling labor and other resources based on existing orders. In kitting and assembly environments, Productiv utilizes a single-process flow (SPF) and a highly efficient production process to maximize performance and throughput while keeping down the cost per unit.

To learn more about how Productiv can transform your health & beauty fulfillment so you can focus on growing your business, talk to an expert today.

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