This company wants to banish bubble wrap at Amazon. LOLI Beauty, a zero-waste, organic beauty company, is now selling on the Carbon Beauty marketplace, an Amazon vertical to find cleaner beauty products. However, LOLI Beauty ran into one challenge when they decided to pursue this route: though its products are all housed in glass jars in an effort to be eco-friendly, the packaging to ship it in was, well, limited to bubble wrap.
“Our approach to launching Amazon was to partner with a leading clean beauty marketplace, Carbon Beauty, already established on Amazon as a leader in sustainable, natural beauty. When we kicked off the initial discussion with them, over a year ago, they let us know that all glass bottles and jars are mandated by Amazon Fulfillment to be wrapped in plastic bubble wrap. This is because of Amazon’s high speed, high tech fulfillment lines which can cause breakage to glass if it’s not wrapped well,” Tina Hedges, founder and CEO of LOLI Beauty explains.
So she came up with an alternative, working alongside the Better Packaging Company, which specializes in compostable packaging.
“It turns out that they were working on taking several layers of their compostable bags and “trapping” air in-between the layers to try to make a compostable substitute for plastic bubble wrap,” she explains.
It took a fair amount of time to work out the kinks — a year from start to finish. But in the end, Better Packaging Company, had a solution made out of PLA (typically corn and starches) that would compost.
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Here’s how it works on the backend now with Carbon Beauty and Amazon:
LOLI ships their product and now certified compostable bubble bags “pockets” and certified compostable stickers to Carbon Beauty. Carbon’s warehouse then assembles the products in the bags (with a sticker) and packs it out to have Amazon do the fulfillment.
This new packaging is more expensive than standard plastic bubble wrap, she explains.
“Like all new eco-friendly, plastic-free solutions, the cost can be prohibitive to brands – most especially, DTC brands that under-cut the individual unit economics and marketplace prices to make up profit margins on selling volumes of discounted goods.”
But for LOLI Beauty, a B Corp, the long-term game of “innovating and optimizing zero waste solutions for the future” is the target. In the short-term, “we’re OK with taking a hit on our profit margins,” Hedges says.
So far LOLI Beauty is the only company to have this arrangement.
“But, we’re in discussions with Carbon Beauty to help make this alternative accessible to the other clean beauty brands that they carry. We’re happy to be open source and share the technologies with other brands to help clean up beauty – and Amazon along the way,” she says.
In fact, why would a small business like hers want to be on Amazon?
“Amazon can be a bewildering beast to an indie, clean beauty brand – or any small business, in fact,” Hedges says.
She argues that most brands hire an agency solely focused on this channel, from marketing and advertising to fulfillment, to truly excel. For LOLI, that’s not possible. So she’s taking the reins and working on each step.
“Financially,” she says, “Amazon offers brands seemingly better profit margins coupled with potential exposure to a wider audience. Skincare is growing exponentially, and the consumer is searching for it on Amazon. It’s important to be where your customer is and know that she is searching for healthier, more sustainable beauty. Being on Amazon helps reduce the friction of discovery.”
Then there’s also the speed factor.
“Operationally, Amazon’s incredible fulfillment capabilities help quench the consumer’s quest for immediate satisfaction. For most small brands, it’s cost prohibitive to offer next day delivery. Amazon solves this for small brands.”
Although Hedges has not had a conversation with Amazon directly about trying new packaging solutions, she’s hopeful the e-commerce platform will be open to it in the coming months, particularly given their public commitment to reduce their carbon footprint.
In the meantime, Hedges says she is “happy to help any brand that wants to wrap their glass products in a ‘dirt bag’ versus plastic bubble wrap!”