January 11, 2017, 4:22 PM

Shipping delays plague e.l.f. Cosmetics

An influx of holiday orders overwhelmed the retailer and consumer brand manufacturer, and e.l.f. Cosmetics’ warehouse is working overtime to catch up.

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Beauty products maker e.l.f. Cosmetics is having trouble keeping up with online orders, and its customers are sounding off on social media.

E.l.f. (which stands for eyes, lips, face) manufactures cosmetics and skincare products that it sells to retailers and also sells directly to consumers through elfcosmetics.com. The company, No. 509 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 1000, has tweeted the same message several times this week to its 314,000 Twitter followers: “Due to heavy volume we are experiencing shipping delays & working around the (clock emoji) to ship orders (box, truck, airplane emojis). We (heart emoji) & appreciate your understanding.” Customers have been voicing frustrations on Twitter and Facebook since before Christmas. The message appeared on e.l.f.’s Facebook page as early as Jan. 3.

E.l.f. Cosmetics generated an Internet Retailer-estimated $27.5 million in web sales in 2015, up 10.0% from $25 million in 2014, according to Top500Guide.com data.

In addition to using social media channels to acknowledge its order fulfillment woes, e.l.f. has a message on its customer service page: “We apologize for the shipping delay on your recent order, due to high demand and increased end of year activity at our shipping department. Our shipping department is working around the clock to ship your order and you will receive an email with tracking information as soon as your order has shipped. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact us with the form below.” It is not known when that message first appeared on the retailer’s site.

Company officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A customer service representative said the company’s offices were closed for long weekends during the Christmas and New Year holidays and it closed its warehouse for an additional day to complete an annual end-of-year inventory check. The agent said the site was still accepting online orders during that time, but she was unsure if they were being processed then. Another employee said e.l.f. was “overwhelmed” after receiving far more holiday orders than anticipated, but that the retailer is fulfilling orders from Jan. 3 as of Wednesday and that the warehouse team will be working overtime this weekend to catch up.

Post-holiday orders tied to a 50%-off sale and promotions for select products also affected the slowdown, a customer service representative said. Another agent said new orders placed Tuesday or Wednesday should be delivered by Jan. 19-20. She was advising customers to wait a week or so before placing new orders to avoid frustration and to have their orders processed more quickly.

E.l.f.’s attempts to communicate via social media and its site aren’t appeasing some customers. Facebook user Emily Beerling on Monday made the following post on e.l.f.’s Facebook page: “Ordered something 9 days ago, not been shipped, emails haven’t been replied to, just been ignored constantly – care to explain what’s up and why you seem to have enough time to put out discount codes but not respond to the customers that have already ordered and haven’t received anything?” Another user, who hadn’t gotten any updates after 10 days, replied to Beerling’s post by linking to the Better Business Bureau.

“Any word on our orders? I purchased on the 1st and haven’t received any shipping info,” Brittany Underwood posted to the retailer’s Facebook page on Monday. Another customer replied to Underwood’s Facebook post: “We purchased on the 28th and they are using the holiday as an excuse. No ship as of yet.”

Trouble began brewing for e.l.f. during the run-up to Christmas. A user named Faithfully L. Caldwell griped about the company’s service on Facebook on Dec. 19, saying, “I’m extremely disappointed because the ad says order before a particular date to ensure you have your gifts before Christmas. My order was shipped on the 16th yet I’m not getting the items until the 27th after Christmas and now I have no gifts! And on top of that 2 of the items I paid for were no longer in stock after I paid for them. This is my second time with delivery issues. I don’t think that it’s right that you advertise this shipment date and I’m not getting it until after Christmas.”

The standard shipping method available to online shoppers is free for orders of $25 or more and promises order delivery in six to 10 business days. The retailer uses FedEx Corp. as its shipping carrier. Orders must be placed by 11 a.m. Eastern, Monday through Thursday, to be processed the same day a purchase is completed, according to e.l.f.

The company, which has amassed more than 1.8 million Facebook likes, began responding individually to commenters on its Facebook page on Tuesday morning with a follow-up message: “Due to extremely heavy order volume in combination with the holiday weekends, we are experiencing a shipping delay. Our shipping department is working as quickly as possible to ship out orders.” The recorded hold message at e.l.f.’s customer service headquarters reiterated the update, adding, “Please do not be concerned. We do have your order in our system, and our warehouse is working around the clock to make sure your order ships. We apologize for the delay and for any inconvenience.”

The website’s chat feature has been listed as “closed” intermittently throughout the week.

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