Taming SKUzilla in the Cosmetics Industry

Posted on 
June 21, 2016
Matthew Wright
Founder & CEO, Specright

According to a report by Markets and Markets, the global color cosmetics market, stood at USD 57.4 Billion in 2014 and it is expected to reach USD 77.7 Billion in 2020.  Cosmetics companies are jumping on the bandwagon as powerhouse companies such as Estée Lauder, LVMH, CoverGirl and Shiseido announce new product lines targeted at Millennials.

New packaging designs for color cosmetics include multifunctional designs allowing more product, distinct shapes, bold colors and cool applicators, not to mention a focus on sustainability.

Along with this growth comes a plethora of new packaging designs and SKUs to manage, adding to the thousands of individual component specifications already used for existing product.  As cosmetics companies embrace this new trend, they also must deal with the challenges created by managing a massive amount of packaging specifications.

The packaging specification is an essential document for cosmetics companies. It describes the function and quality of a given packaging component via a selection of supplier and user-driven attributes and variables. When completed, it forms the standard for quality and provides a base for procurement to perform commercial activities. The packaging specification is an agreement between the customer and packaging supplier and if completed incorrectly or to an inconsistent standard it can result in non-conformance, inefficiency, lost customers and in the worst case significant on costs to a business.

Today, many cosmetics companies manage their packaging specifications in traditional static documents such as word processing, spreadsheet or PDF. This leads to errors, high admin and misunderstandings especially relating to master data, which are compounded when these specs are distributed both internally to stakeholders and externally to suppliers.

In the case of Master Data, packaging specs in static format makes the capture, transfer and maintenance of information a tedious and difficult task leading to inconsistent and often times, poor quality information. Data is not connected or searchable making component portfolio visibility, standardization and efficiency/cost savings extremely challenging and time consuming.

This high admin results in restrictions on resources, mistakes, and quality issues, which impact the bottom line of the business. Plus not enough time is spent on the qualitative and technical elements of a product.

Taming SKUzilla and ultimately controlling or reducing costs requires a disruptive approach to managing packaging specs and taking advantage of the latest advances in cloud-technology and intelligent solutions.

Cosmetics companies should look to modern spec management solutions that support dynamic, individual attributes and variables for packaging specs. Some qualities to look for in such a system include:

System Overview:

  Built on scalable, reliable, and secure enterprise cloud platform

  Integration: Open, flexible platform for integration

  Cloud-based Accessibility – Users (Both internal users & external partners) must have a login and immediately have access, no downloads or installation needed

  Designed for packaging spec management: Pre-built architecture, layout, and templates

  Fully connected Specs to sub-BOMs to BOMs. The capability to link sub assembly Specification parts to a primary part.

  All attributes & metadata reportable

  Real-time reporting

  Immediate reports on:

  Packaging Waste

  Materials Usage & Optimization

  Like Size Consolidation

  Recycled Content Usage

  ...and more

Dashboards – Individual custom private or shared dashboards that aggregate reports, displaying detailed charts and graphs


  Workflow – 2 levels of approvals, RFQ and Approved

  Automatic triggers:


  E-mails sent to individuals or groups

  Field changes

  Notifications to suppliers for RFQ

  View reports on metadata associated with workflows (e.g. how long a process takes, who/where a bottleneck occurs, etc.)

  Report on point in lifecycle of finished good/packaging – view at the macro level and drill down to the individual component level

  Clear status differentiation between “DEVELOPMENT”, “APPROVED” and “OBSOLETE”.

Data management:

  Exchange tool – Open up external access, limiting access to the exact specs, partners, and time frame

  Mass upload tool – Upload unlimited amounts of data in bulk in seconds, whether as new records or for mass updates

  All changes and revisions recorded with user name & date/timestamp

  Platform can conform to and concatenate where necessary to naming and numbering requirements

  Migration support – support team with packaging expertise available to handle all data and document uploading


  Ready-made “Spec Families” to hold finished good specs intelligently connected to each component of the associated bill of materials

  Architected to seamlessly search and navigate between the hierarchy of specs – primary package, secondary packaging, etc. to a pallet pattern to a truck pattern – all with interconnected dependencies

  View palletization of shippers directly attached to the finished good spec

  Report on shipper utilization of finished goods to identify optimization and cost-savings opportunities

By managing packaging specs in an Intelligent Specification Management System, cosmetics companies looking to change the way they manage their specs can abandon their old statics packaging specs and see dramatic positive results to their bottom line.

Specright is a specification management company with a vision to leverage specification expertise and cloud technology to improve the way specifications are shared, analyzed and audited. Our mission is to empower customer efficiencies by providing Intelligent Specification Management Platforms that are available anytime, anywhere from any device.

Whether it’s packaging, formulas or other specifications, Specright lets companies reduce costs and empower efficiencies by sharing, analyzing and auditing specifications.

Our customers operate in cosmetics, food & beverage, produce, manufacturing, FMCG/CPG, or any industry reliant on accurate specifications. We offer on-boarding, testing and auditing services to ensure products and components meet specifications.


Matthew Wright

Matthew Wright is the founder & CEO of Specright, the first cloud-based platform for Specification Management. Specright has been recognized by Fast Company’s prestigious Most Innovative Companies list, named a Gartner Cool Vendor, and as one of the Top Places to Work by the OC Register and Built in LA. Wright is also a published author and his book, “The Evolution of Products and Packaging,”was named to the Amazon Hot New Release List for Industrial Relations Business and has a five star rating. 

Prior to founding Specright, Wright spent more than 25 years in the packaging industry, holding leadership positions at International Paper, Temple Inland, and rightPAQ — a packaging company he co-founded. He has also been involved in leading multiple M&A deals in the packaging industry, currently sits on the MSU School of Packaging and Industry Advisory Board and previously served on the Packaging Advisory Board at Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo.

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