Customer reports, news and press releases.

Giving it all for the perfect style

Globally integrated logistics are putting Japanese cosmetics company Kao on a course for growth. This is welcome news, not only for drugstore chains and retailer sales distributors, but also for hair salon owners, who are known as a particularly demanding and impatient target group. After all, when their customers have appointments, the individual haircare products ordered have to be there on time.
1000 displays with the hair shampoos of Guhl are equipped in the warehouse in Neu-Isenburg.

In the hotly contested cosmetics industry, every day matters. The competition never sleeps, especially when it wants to take the lead with a product launch. When the Japanese cosmetics company Kao launched a new hair color among US retailers supplied by shipments from its production facility in Darmstadt, Germany, the clock was ticking. “We had to pull out all the stops,” recalls Hans-Michael Steenbock, Beauty Care Logistics Director of Kao Manufacturing Germany GmbH, the supply chain company for the Japanese cosmetics company in the EMEA region. The Dachser warehouse in Neu-Isenburg, near Frankfurt, sent an initial shipment to the retail giant by air freight; it then shipped the bulk of the haircare products by road and container ship, and lastly by rail until it reached the Kao warehouse in the US.

KAO products are stored for the retail market.

Dual location strategy

“Our business is an extremely time-driven one, with a distinct just-in-time mentality on all sides,” says Steenbock. “To be able to concentrate on our core business, we needed a globally positioned and very flexible logistics partner.” That’s why Kao Europe and its core brands Goldwell, John Frieda, Guhl, Kanebo, Molton Brown, Jergens, KMS California, and Bioré have been working with Dachser since 2005. In the beginning, Dachser provided just warehousing and overland transport services for the retail sector, but in 2006-2007, Air & Sea Logistics services were added for hair salon products, especially for shipments to the US, Asia-Pacific, and later, the United Arab Emirates. On top of that, value-added services, which include building and assembling promotional displays for retailer advertising campaigns, play an important role for the customer.

“For Kao, we serve two entirely different markets using a dual warehouse strategy from the greater Frankfurt area. From the Neu-Isenburg facility, we send groupage shipments and cargo transports to major drugstore and retail chains, while the Biebesheim facility ships out smaller parcels to hair salons throughout continental Europe,” explains Thomas Euler, the central contact person for Kao and head of its Biebesheim warehouse. After more than ten years of working together, Dachser took over this second warehouse at the beginning of 2016. “What we do there is contract logistics in its purest form,” explains Euler. Hairstylists, whose salons generally have hardly any warehousing space, order haircare products in small quantities based on daily demand. These then have to be on hand at the hairdresser’s work station within 24 hours, or 48 hours, depending on the region.

Biebesheim uses the pick-by-light method which is perfect for the packaging of small articles.

Pick-by-light for small articles

In Biebesheim, cardboard boxes are filled using the pick-by-light method for the hair salons. In this process, order-pickers scan in the order and see a number in the adjacent blinking display that shows which product is needed for the order, as well as the quantity, and in which area in the order-picking aisle the product can be found. Up to 3,500 cartons per day are packaged this way in Biebesheim and taken to centralized distribution facilities used by the parcel services. From there, the goods are shipped to the hair salons in continental Europe.

The Biebesheim warehouse is currently working with its existing systems, but Euler’s team will migrate those systems to Mikado, Dachser’s in-house warehouse management system, this year. Euler is convinced that migrating to the tightly integrated software will pay off for Kao and the other customers in the Biebesheim warehouse. “Uniform data and interfaces allow for an uninterrupted flow of information throughout the entire Dachser network. This provides greater transparency, efficiency, speed and security – regardless of transport modes or the destination.”

For KAO and DACHSER processes are essential.

An extra day of lead time

As Kao’s head of logistics, Steenbock views the system migration as a welcome reason to rethink their internal processes and streamline them further. “During intense and constructive workshops, we shared and exchanged information with Dachser experts regarding our systems, processes, and the interfaces these require.” He is particularly pleased about the fact that “global transport, warehousing, and value-added services from a single source give us an extra day of lead time. Logistics without system disruptions improves tracking & tracing and minimizes potential sources of errors.”

Andreas Krieger, General Manager Air & Sea Logistics Central Germany at DACHSER, believes that one key to success is Interlocking – the closely meshed networking of overland transport with air and sea freight. “The simplest and most flexible solutions are found when colleagues cooperate closely together,” he says. This is entirely in line with Steenbock’s philosophy: “For us it’s important that the processes run smoothly and we meet our targets on schedule and at high quality.” With Dachser, says Steenbock, the partnership we have built up over the past ten years is based on mutual trust. “Our corporate cultures are compatible with one another, which forms a good foundation for the rest.”

Copyright © 2018 DACHSER SE. All rights reserved.
back | top | print


Kao is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of personal care, cleaning products, and cosmetics for end users. Moreover, the group manufactures the chemicals it needs to serve as the base products for these goods and other specialty chemicals. The company was founded in Tokyo, Japan, in 1887 and currently employs more than 32,700 people around the world.