Providing warehousing and fulfillment services for cosmetics products has a lot of unique requirements. The nature of the products, as well as the potential high value, make for some specific challenges when it comes to storing and shipping the cosmetics.
An obvious difference between cosmetics and other products can be a higher importance placed on appearance and packaging for cosmetics when they go out for customer delivery.
Cosmetic companies place a high value on maintaining the right brand image so appearances are important. Given the delicate nature of the product, packaging for protection can be important too – spills and breakage are not acceptable.
Security within the warehouse can also be an area of emphasis due to the high cost of many cosmetics products.
All these requirements are important, however possibly the most complicated facet of warehousing and shipping cosmetics relates to shelf life and expiration date. Safety and quality become a concern when it comes to the ingredients and chemicals in many cosmetics. A warehouse must know how different products need to be handled, stored, and when necessary, disposed of.
Much of the challenge lies in cosmetics being so different and the vague guidelines as referenced from the FDA website: “There are no regulations or requirements under current United States law that require cosmetic manufacturers to print expiration dates on the labels of cosmetic products. Manufacturers have the responsibility to determine shelf life for products, as part of their responsibility to substantiate product safety. FDA believes that failure to do so may cause a product to be adulterated or misbranded.
Voluntary shelf-life guidelines developed by the cosmetic industry vary, depending on the product and its intended use. For instance, a 1980 article by David Pope in Drug and Cosmetic Industry suggested a minimum shelf life of 18 to 24 months "to maximize cost efficiency in warehousing, distribution, and marketing.
Often the challenge lies in having a process to account for different expiration dates – much like a food product.
The concerns over the safety and quality of cosmetics reinforce the need to work with warehouse operations that have the processes and technology to manage a complex mix of ingredients, product types, and expiration dates.