Why Australians adore this online beauty retailer

Australia’s number one online cosmetics store has seen triple digit growth since its inception 19 years ago.
Sarah Mullen, General Manager at Adore Beauty reveals how a new Warehouse Management System enabled the organisation to pick and pack faster while also meeting sustainability goals.

E-commerce and online shopping continues to boom. The NAB Online Retail Sales Index revealed that last year Australians spent a total of $28.6 billion on online shopping.
According to Australia Post’s Inside Australian Online Shopping report, online shopping is now responsible for 9 per cent of Australia’s total retail spend and currently eight out of ten Australians shop online, with Australia Post predicting that by 2020 every one out of ten items will be bought online.
Australia is the 10th largest ecommerce marketplace in the world and is set to grow 15.1 per cent in 2019, the Statista Digital Market Outlook revealed.
One business right at the heart of the online shopping boom in Australia is Adore Beauty, which was founded in 2000 by current CEO Kate Morris.
When Kate founded the business in 2009, Adore Beauty was the first beauty e-commerce site. “Kate wanted to create a more comfortable environment for people to shop for cosmetics. She wanted to create a space where people could make their own decisions and not be intimidated by the multiple sales people pushing their own brands,” Sarah Mullen, General Manager at Adore Beauty says.
What started with two unknown cosmetic brands is now Australia’s number one cosmetics and skincare store with more than 250 brands.
“It’s been a journey getting here. On-boarding brands was tough to begin with. Kate was ahead of the game with e-commerce so there was some delay with people coming on board,” Sarah says.
In 2011, Adore Beauty secured world-renowned skincare brand Clarins and from then Adore Beauty has seen significant growth. “We’ve had triple digit growth, in 2014 we had an investment from Woolworths, shortly after this we doubled our portfolio. This was when we started to offer free shipping and things have really started to amp up from there,” Sarah says.
Delivering on a promise
“At Adore Beauty, we’re known for our convenience…and our Tim-Tams,” Sarah says. Adore Beauty puts an individual Tim-Tam in every order and offers free express delivery on any order over $50, and then free standard delivery for any order under that price mark. They also offer same-day dispatch for any order that’s placed before 2pm.
This means that anyone within Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland metro areas will receive the product next day, Sarah says.
When Sarah commenced her role as General Manager in July 2017, she recognised that as a result of the rapid growth the business has always been behind, rather than ahead of its growth.
“There has been a lot of swimming, just keeping our heads above water really. Everyone putting in over and above just to get by,” Sarah says.
She was looking at the sales and stock holding projections for the next 12-24 months and realised quickly that Adore Beauty was going to struggle if it continued to use the same systems.
“Our systems were falling apart, they just couldn’t handle the volume we were now doing,” Sarah says.
For Sarah, the current system no longer represented and supported Adore Beauty and its rapid growth. “Adore Beauty is very modern and fast-paced, we knew we needed a Warehouse Management System (WMS) that represented us and allowed us to meet this increase in demand as well as grow with us,” she says.
From here, Adore Beauty was able to shortlist three WMS offerings, one of which was Highjump, a global provider of supply chain solutions.
Customisation and sustainability
For Sarah and the team at Adore Beauty, they had two major requirements for a WMS. “We wanted customisation and sustainability benefits. And Highjump delivered on both of these,” Sarah says.
In terms of customisation it was important for Adore Beauty to be able to make their own tweaks without having to rely on other people. Highjump allows Adore Beauty to make annual or half-yearly upgrades without effecting the customisation of their system. Sarah points out that this would be problematic with some of the other WMS offerings on the table.
“We had in the mix that we wanted to reduce our box size, we knew we needed to do it but we didn’t have the smarts to do it. We knew Highjump would allow us to do this and ultimately allowed us to become much more sustainable,” Sarah says.
Adore Beauty now uses dimension scanning equipment which volumetrically calculates each individual product. It scans the product for all measurements including weight and then calculates which box would be a best fit and the most sustainable.
“We use a a Cubiscan. Every product in our warehouse has been scanned by this piece of equipment. This then tells Highjump the total volume needed for each order and Highjump decides which box to put the products in. The software selects the most sustainable box for each order,” Sarah says.
For Adore Beauty, this sustainability aspect was a deal breaker. “If Highjump couldn’t do this then we wouldn’t have gone with them, but they supported us through this entire process,” Sarah says.
Additionally, before implementing Highjump the Adore Beauty picking process was highly manual. “We were picking from paper pick lists. We used to print out an A4 piece of paper for every single invoice, and on top of that would be a pick slip. Sometimes this would be ten pieces of paper per pick round,” Sarah says.
Highjump now has the pickers using RF guns, completely eliminating the need for paper and Sarah is proud to report that the warehouse picking process is now completely paperless. In one year alone, the organisation is saving 1,263 packs of 500 sheets of A4 paper.
In terms of the smaller boxes, the new size is 3cm shorter, saving 50 grams of cardboard per box. “We used to ship 80 per cent of our orders in the smaller box, but now we’re shipping half of those orders in the new small box. This offers a projected saving of 26,093 kg of cardboard annually,” Sarah says.
Efficiency gains
As well as significant benefits on the sustainability front, the Highjump platform has delivered impressive efficiency gains for Adore Beauty.
“We’re picking two to three times faster than before and we’re packing three times faster,” Sarah says.
“The Cubiscan and Highjump allows us to weigh check an order before it’s sent out. Previously we had to manually pull out every item and scan what was in it to declare it ready to be sent. Now the software knows that all of those items should weigh a certain amount so it can simply scan and weigh the box and it’s good to go. Taking a matter of seconds,” Sarah says.
Shortly after implementing Highjump, Adore Beauty moved into a new warehouse facility in October last year. “Highjump was giving us the capacity to scale, grow and manage volume but we needed a larger site to allow us to get the most out of Highjump,” Sarah says.
Setting people up for success
One aspect of the process that Sarah was impressed with was the level of support she received from one of Highjump’s implementation partners in Australia and New Zealand.
“Something we discussed a lot at the beginning was service. We didn’t want someone who was going to sell us something, walk away and implement from overseas. We were really impressed with the service we were given. The team were here with us in Melbourne for two weeks and it was like they worked for Adore Beauty,” she says.
In terms of the feedback from the team at Adore Beauty, the implementation has been great for morale and staff retention.
“Our warehouse team are all millennials. We know that sustainability and the environment is very important to them. Our customers and our team have been telling us what they wanted for years and thanks to the capabilities that Highjump gives us we can do that,” Sarah says.
In terms of the future, Sarah says that you never can tell what’s around the corner at Adore Beauty. “We change every minute, what we think is the plan today won’t be in 12 months. We’re forever growing and changing and they great thing about Highjump is that it allows us to do all the crazy things we want to do in five years,” Sarah says.
Whether that’s robotics, automation or moving to a multi-site operation Sarah is confident Highjump will continue to deliver.

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