Mary Kay: Discovering the Beauty of Real-Time Tracking

July 3, 2024


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Discovering the Beauty of Real-Time Tracking 

With 3.5 million Independent Beauty Consultants and $4 billion in global annual sales, Mary Kay Global has been a top global beauty brand and direct seller for 60 years—in more than 35 markets worldwide.

Based in Dallas, Texas, Mary Kay is an empire built on trust gained through producing and delivering consistently high-quality products. Mary Kay cosmetics and beauty products—including serums, retinol, foundations, and lipsticks, to name a few—are not only valuable (and thereby potential theft targets) but also extremely temperature sensitive. This fuels the need for real-time, end-to-end location and condition tracking—from point of origin to final destinations worldwide.

Mary Kay started tracking some of its shipments in 2019, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping the globe. Their chosen vendor, however, presented a substantial roadblock: a rigid and inflexible platform that also created communication barriers for the Mary Kay team. As nervous countries locked down their borders, Mary Kay faced the daunting task of demonstrating compliance and quality control.

“At Mary Kay, we must make sure that we're delivering high-quality products—every time. The cheapest way is not always the best way for our products.”

→ Lusine Atayan, Manager of Supply Chain Process Transformation, Mary Kay Global

An Inflexible, Skin-Deep Solution

On the surface, the first vendor’s solution provided location, temperature, and humidity tracking—a good start, but far from perfect. 

  • There was no way to track acceleration or shock—critical metrics for Mary Kay
  • The Mary Kay team was unable to customize how many tracker pings occurred per hour per shipment—and had to contact the vendor’s tech team to make those adjustments, every time
  • They could not track ocean shipments or the battery life of trackers—creating huge blind spots

“Alerts were coming in, but because we couldn't customize them, our people didn’t know what they were for or which were important—so no one took any action,” Atayan said.

But the alerts kept coming—out of compliance, out of compliance, out of compliance

This exposed an unacceptable gap in quality management. And as the world emerged into the new reality of a post-COVID realm, Mary Kay prioritized finding a shipment visibility solution provider that included the ability to customize alerts—a partner who could unite all real-time shipment data into one easy-to-use cloud platform. 

“The biggest ROI is this: you don't want a $250,000 shipment to freeze. You definitely don't want that.”

→ Lusine Atayan, Manager of Supply Chain Process Transformation, Mary Kay Global

Tickled Pink: The Power of Personal Communication

As Mary Kay searched for the perfect visibility partner, one company kept coming up: Tive, an industry leader in real-time, end-to-end shipment visibility solutions that works with many big-box retailers and prominent customers that ship temperature-sensitive and high-value goods.

“We had spoken with Tive’s CEO Krenar Komoni at conferences around the U.S.,” Atayan said. “Then I bumped into him again at Manifest 2023, where he was presenting about the many layers of visibility—and he had trackers onstage with him.” Intrigued, Atayan stopped by the Tive booth for a demo. She was thoroughly impressed, but still did not make a decision. 

A short time later, Krenar touched base with her by phone. “Nobody ever calls me on my desk phone at work,” Atayan said. “I was like, ‘How did he even reach me?’ He simply wanted to check in and see if I had any questions.” 

Atayan’s due diligence also included speaking with Tive customers. “When your existing customers speak highly of you, that means a lot,” she said.

Nailed It: Successful, End-to-End Shipment Visibility

Mary Kay’s visibility challenges vanished when they started using Tive in April 2023. At launch, Mary Kay assigned a dedicated employee to guide and oversee the project—and evangelize it around the company. Sam Vatinyan—Supply Chain Process Transformation Analyst—drove the implementation team. 

Fast forward six months. The company now uses Tive Solo 5G trackers on all shipments, leveraging the data collected in Tive’s cloud-based platform to spot anomalies and make operational improvements—across the company.

A Solid Foundation of Visibility

Mary Kay shippers in some markets insisted on using non-refrigerated containers because they’re less expensive. “We started putting Tive trackers on shipments to Brazil, and could show them how a shipment was supposed to be at a consistent 68° Fahrenheit (20°C)—and it was at 104° Fahrenheit (40°C).” That leads to a lot of ruined products—and lost revenue.

Keeping an eye on shipment temperature—and making sure that Mary Kay’s markets understand why they push refrigerated containers during certain periods of the year—helped the company resolve a lot of these challenges.

Another critical shipping metric for Mary Kay is light exposure, which indicates when a container has been opened. Loaded with high-value products, every Mary Kay shipment is a potential target for thieves—sometimes even at Customs. “Periodically we get insurance claims from the market saying we didn’t load certain products, and Tive gives us the proof we need to show that a container has been opened,” Atayan said. 

Operational Improvements Abound

Prior to implementing Tive, Mary Kay didn't know that it took so long for trucks to pass the border in Mexico. Using the data captured by Tive trackers, Mary Kay is now immediately notified if there is a light event—meaning that trailer doors have been opened, which could indicate a theft event.

To overcome the many new challenges presented in the aftermath of the pandemic, Mary Kay focused on three key process improvement areas: 

  • Reducing lead times
  • Improving freight forwarder negotiations and accelerated border crossing times
  • Minimizing cargo theft

Mary Kay monitors the lead time to market very closely. Lead times for some APAC markets were set at 86 days since the pandemic, but Tive data helped Mary Kay accomplish a reduction of just 45 days. Using Tive’s shipment visibility solution, Mary Kay can now quickly adjust—improving their operational planning and adapting their inventory management to comply with new, improved lead times.

“In 2023 alone we've reduced our lead times in our planning systems by almost 50%.” 

→ Lusine Atayan, Manager of Supply Chain Process Transformation, Mary Kay Global

A Beautiful, Flexible Partnership

Ultimately, Atayan said, Mary Kay chose Tive for three reasons: 

  1. Tive’s focus on proactive customer communications: “They value our feedback, and often implement our suggestions to the platform.”
  2. The industry-leading, multi-sensor Solo 5G trackers: “We had shipments get completely unloaded, examined, and put into another trailer—and we couldn't see that until we started looking at the sensor data Tive trackers were capturing.”
  3. Easy system compatibility through flexible APIs: “It's so easy for us to connect Tive data with [business intelligence & analytics software] Tableau.”

Mary Kay now puts Tive trackers on every shipment that leaves its headquarters in the Dallas metroplex. The data captured shines a spotlight on how long it takes to get from Dallas to the port of Houston and to future destinations. Tive also shows how long it takes to get to the Canadian or Mexican border—and then how long it sits at that border. 

This game-changing visibility has enabled Mary Kay to easily demonstrate compliance and quality control with all shipments, further enhancing the trust that empowers business growth.