What Is a Cosmetics Distributor?

C. Mitchell

In its most basic sense, a cosmetics distributor is a person or company who organizes the delivery of cosmetics products from the manufacturer to the consumer. The biggest distribution companies interface with department stores and retail outlets to deliver merchandise from major manufacturers. Cosmetics sales also can form the basis of small businesses or home-based businesses. Sometimes, the phrase “cosmetics distributor” refers to a single person who sells and distributes cosmetics on a person-by-person basis.

Tubes of cosmetics.
Tubes of cosmetics.

In business, a distributor generally is an entity that is charged with delivering a product from its point of manufacture to its point of sale. In most cases, a cosmetics distributor is a company that works as something of a go-between for major makeup brands and stores. They usually are independent, meaning that they work as free agents and do not have loyalties with either party. Rather, they operate on a contract basis, providing an essential service and often little more.

A woman applying mascara, a type of cosmetic.
A woman applying mascara, a type of cosmetic.

Professional distributors usually manage shipping and process inventory databases to anticipate when stores are running low on certain products. People in this branch of the cosmetics industry usually work with stores to coordinate delivery, and they often help with unpacking and sorting merchandise on arrival. In some cases, distributors also are responsible for collecting unsold or discontinued merchandise for return to the manufacturer, although this largely depends on the terms of the contract.

A commercial cosmetics distributor is an essential part of all store-based cosmetics sales. Distributors are indiscriminate and exist for designer cosmetics as well as cheap cosmetics. Most of the time, they perform jobs for only one line at a time, but they usually are able to handle multiple clients at once.

Cosmetics distribution also is popular on a home-business level. This sort of work is completely different from large-scale corporate distribution. It centers on individual distributors whose job is selling cosmetics and makeup products to people in their communities and social circles.

To become a cosmetics distributor in this sense, a person usually must sign on as an independent vendor with the parent cosmetics line. Some companies call these professionals distributors, and others call them consultants, direct sales representatives or something similar. Regardless of the title, their function is small-scale distribution.

Most of the time, these distributors must personally purchase many types of cosmetics from the parent company. Then, they must sell these products, usually for a profit, and replace their stock with new purchases when needed. Most of the time, the distributor focuses on only a few types of makeup and related products to increase the likelihood of unloading all pre-purchased items. Cosmetics distributor positions in this category are often billed as very lucrative cosmetics jobs, but a lot depends on the salesperson’s personality, the interest and budget of the buyers and the general market saturation.

Cosmetics are sometimes distrubuted through door-to-door sales.
Cosmetics are sometimes distrubuted through door-to-door sales.

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