Fulfillment services handle key inventory management, order packing, and shipping tasks for ecommerce businesses. Outsourcing these functions lets you focus on product development, marketing, and other sales-driving tasks. The best fulfillment service for you depends on your business’s specific needs. In this guide, we compare the services and costs of 4 top-rated fulfillment companies: ShipBob, FulfillmentCompanies.net, Red Stag, and Fulfillment by Amazon, and show you how to assess your business’s fulfillment needs to find the right fit However, if your business has slower inventory turnover, the lower monthly storage fees at Red Stag might be the better bargain. And if you sell on Amazon, it’s nearly impossible to beat FBA’s rates.
Should you consider outsourcing fulfillment for your online store? If you find yourself spending too much time, money, and energy on packing and shipping orders, the answer might be yes. If you choose to outsource fulfillment, you need to find the best fulfillment services for your e-commerce store. When choosing, there are a variety of factors to consider, including features, pricing, and technology. And with so many options out there, it can seem overwhelming. By finding the best fulfillment services for your business, you will gain transparency into inventory and order management, save your company time and money when it comes to shipping orders, and create a better customer experience.
Consider ShipBob’s fulfillment services. ShipBob can help you take the hassle out of packing and shipping orders, efficiently manage your inventory, grow your business, streamline your returns process, and provide a better customer experience. ShipBob owns and operates several fulfillment centers in major US cities across the country, with more fulfillment center locations launching soon.
ShipBob’s fulfillment services include the following benefits: Quick, affordable shipping First and foremost, ShipBob’s combination of proprietary technology and fulfillment center network allows your e-commerce business to offer customers fast, affordable shipping through our fulfillment services. ShipBob’s fulfillment services store products close enough to your customers that you don’t have to choose between fast shipping and affordable shipping, creating the best customer experience possible.
This leverages distributed inventory: Distributed spreads inventory across our network of fulfillment centers in major US cities, putting your inventory closer to your shipping destination and decreasing the cost and time of shipping.
ShipBob also price shops among the biggest carriers to ensure that you receive the best rate possible. Easy integration The best fulfillment services have incorporated technology into logistics to keep up with customers’ expectations. This takes the form of fulfillment software that powers the 3PL’s network of warehouses and sends critical information back to the merchant.
ShipBob’s technology integrates with top e-commerce platforms and marketplaces with just a couple of clicks to bring orders, shipments, inventory levels, fulfillment centers, sales channels, and customers together in one place. This helps automate the order fulfillment process for your business and creates a better experience for your customers. Inventory management Manage your inventory with the click of a button through ShipBob’s dashboard, including a variety of reporting information, such as viewing inventory levels across fulfillment centers and analyzing which products are the most popular with customers.
You can also leverage automatic reorder notifications: Set an inventory point at which you’d like to be notified of low inventory levels, and receive an automatic notification to ship more inventory to our fulfillment center. Order management Access complete order info in the dashboard and pass that level of transparency on to your customers. Customers want to know what’s happening with their orders in real-time. Giving customers full insight into their orders can lead to higher customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
ShipBob gives you full transparency into the status of your orders and order metrics. Follow the picking, packing, and shipping of any customer order through ShipBob’s dashboard. You can also automatically push order updates through your e-commerce platform integration to your customers.
The best fulfillment services for your business will help you save time and money, ultimately helping your business grow and thrive.
If you’re ready to get started with efficient, affordable, and easy-to-use e-commerce fulfillment services, contact us today. We provide same-, next-, and 2-day shipping for ecommerce companies of all sizes taking the hassle out of storing, picking, packing, and shipping your products. With simple, fast, and affordable order fulfillment, ShipBob lets you focus on creating and selling great products — we’ll handle the rest. • • • • •
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Whether you're selling on Amazon and thinking about whether or not you should have some of your products fulfilled by them, or if you're trying to look for a completely different ecommerce company to store and deliver your products, it makes sense to understand the differences between that and dropshipping, while also viewing some of the top ecommerce fulfilment companies to choose from.
The choices are plentiful, but if you choose the wrong one you may end up with some hefty charges and angry customers. After all, you're putting the logistics of your company in the hands of a third party company. It better be a good one. What is Ecommerce Fulfilment? On the surface, ecommerce order fulfilment is defined as the steps taken for receiving, processing and delivering orders to customers. Therefore, a fulfilment company is going to be that third party company that you hire to complete all of these steps.
Some ecommerce fulfilment companies offer more than others, but the general idea is that you don't have to store an item at all, you don't have to ship it out to the customer and the order and return processing is all done without you having to think about it at all. Order fulfilment at its core can technically be done out of your own garage, basement or warehouse. It's when you outsource your order fulfilment when it becomes much closer to that of dropshipping. How is Fulfilment Different from Dropshipping?
Technically, outsourced fulfilment and dropshipping are the same thing. The company that's completing the dropshipping or fulfilment for you is storing, handling and shipping all of your products.
Most of them even take in returns without you having to lift a finger. However, dropshipping generally takes one initial step out of the equation. When companies dropship they generally contact a that is already making the products they would like to sell. Therefore, all the retailer has to do is put a product page on their website then communicate to the dropshipper when an item is sold.
This means that a company that makes proprietary, or unique, products doesn't have a chance to dropship. All of those items need to be built by a separate manufacturer or in-house. Therefore, you could say that fulfilment is different in the fact that your items have to be shipped to the fulfilment company at some point for them to store, while dropshipping often has a situation where the products are already in the possession of the manufacturer or dropshipper.
What Are Some of the Top International Fulfilment Companies? Red Stag Fulfillment won an award for Best Fulfillment Service in 2016. It's a well-run operation that picks, packages and ships your products. You'll also notice that storage and returns are done through Red Stag Fulfillment.
This company has become so popular because it promises (and delivers!) speed and reliability, so you don't have to worry about your customers getting mad. The best part is that you don't have to pay for any long term contracts, setup fees, hidden fees, account management fees or SKU management fees. The James and James Ecommerce Fulfilment company is ideal for businesses located in the UK.
International shipping is certainly available, but it seems to have some strong benefits for those in the UK. The same day dispatch and packing accuracy is the kind of stuff that all online stores like to see, while the storage of your items is performed in a way that nothing gets damaged and all of your boxes go out to the right customers. ShopMonk's custom API integrations allow users to sync new shopping orders automagically into their software. The products are then shipped without delay.
They promise a scalable solution and promise the same type of service for every single order. They also offer some unique services like crowdfunding fulfillment and Amazon FBA Prep services. They have a coveted customer service section that boasts 24*7 availability and 1-1 service, and they promise super fast delivery without delays.
ShipStation is known for working well with Shopify, Bigcommerce and Magento customers, and it has some wonderful packages that start at $25 pr month. The shopping cart integration is one of the best parts of the ShipStation interface, while orders and shipping are all automated on the backend. What's more is that ShipStation gives you the freedom to add your own branding to all the packaging and anything that goes in the packaging, strengthening the effectiveness of your company in the long run.
Rakuten Super Logistics is one of the more popular solutions you can choose from, and they have strategically placed located all over the world. We like the idea of the SmartFill feature, which is a cloud-based platform for keeping track of your fulfilment process, anywhere in the world and at anytime.
They also have a SmartStock solution for keeping items on the shelves at all times and getting people their products when they need them. Consider GoShippo if you're looking for yet another international order fulfilment service with quality service. The API is open for you to integrate with your store upon signing up, and they have an interesting pricing model that takes the price of shipping plus five cents.
The shipping tracking lets you understand where all your packages are located, while the intuitive dashboard allows you to connect with your data from anywhere you want. You have the option to add insurance to your shipping, and the deep discounts are nice for saving money on USPS labels. Along with address verification, return labels and international parcels, you can't go wrong with GoShippo. Over to You… Now that you've had a chance to understand the differences between ecommerce order fulfilment and dropshipping, along with some of the best ecommerce fulfilment companies in the world, feel free to give one of them a call to see what else they can offer you.
I'm sure you'll be please with each of the five we recommended above. If you have anymore questions about order fulfilment, feel free to drop a line in the comments section below.
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Many ecommerce operations, especially e-tailers, still face brick-and-mortar challenges. While maintaining a smooth cyberspace operation requires smart choices for things such as and , there still remains the problem of converting all of that digital business into the physical products your customers have ordered.
This is where e-commerce fulfillment services can help. E-commerce fulfillment services accept product shipments from you or your manufacturers, and then log them in, store them, pack them, and then send them out.
They usually send them out via FedEx, UPS, USPS, or another shipping service. Often called 3PLs (short for "third-party logistics"), e-commerce fulfillment services have been around for years, managing product distribution and fulfillment for large retail businesses and small mail-order companies. While the services covered here in this roundup provide the same services, they separate themselves from traditional 3PLs because of their concentration on providing fulfillment services for retailers.
Items You Will Pay For Using an e-commerce fulfillment service can save you a huge amount of time, effort, and cost—especially if you're selling more than a few items per month. However, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when choosing an e-commerce fulfillment service. There are also a lot of separate costs involved, some of them difficult to predict. Your final costs will depend on the e-commerce fulfillment provider's policies and resources as well as your company's specific needs.
Before you begin researching e-commerce fulfillment services, you should pin down exactly why you need them. What type of product will you be shipping? Is the product fragile, heavy, or large? How many items will you ship per month and to what locations? What kinds of shipping options do you intend to offer your customers? The best way to do a price comparison is to decide on which features your business will need, and then have a conversation with each e-commerce fulfillment service you're considering.
Basic Fees and Added Costs E-commerce fulfillment companies usually start with basic fees for services that include receiving (accepting and managing inventory at the warehouse), storage, pick-and-pack (the process of selecting and packing the products for each order), and shipping. can vary depending on how many shipments you have per month. Companies that ship more products per month can expect discounts on the rates.
Then there will be additional costs that depend on your company's specific needs. These costs can include insurance to cover breakage and other issues, special packaging (for fragile, heavy, or large orders), branded boxes, grouping products in "kits" (if, for example, you are selling gift assortments), , expedited shipping options, and a variety of other costs.
Facilities An important factor to take into consideration when choosing an e-commerce fulfillment service is the number and location of its storage facilities. Because most e-commerce retailers today are competing with , customers now often expect to get their orders quickly, preferably within two days.
The more warehouses to which your e-fulfillment service has access, the more shipment options you have, and the faster your product can get to your customers—without you having to pay for two-day or overnight shipping.
For example, if you find that most of your customers live in California or New York, then you can arrange to store most of your inventory near those areas. If you suddenly find that you're selling large quantities of product in Chicago or Minneapolis, then you may want to move some of your inventory warehouses to the Midwest.
While there will be an extra shipping charge to move your inventory, it may be worth it, both in lower shipping costs and more satisfied customers. Making business decisions like this requires the right data, which brings us to another selection point when considering an e-fulfillment service: the dashboard. Make sure to evaluate any front end provided by the 3PL provider not just for ease of use but for what kinds of data it gathers, what it can display and how, as well as how well it can export that data or integrate its features with the other e-commerce management tools you're using.
Damages and Insurance Another factor that can affect both your customers' satisfaction and your bottom line is how the e-commerce fulfillment service handles problems such as damaged shipments, mistakes in shipment, and returns. This is especially important when you get a complaint from a customer when an order arrived damaged or when part of the order is missing.
Who is responsible? Some e-commerce fulfillment services may require you to buy extra insurance if you're dealing with fragile or more expensive products. Others might fold their insurance fees into your monthly fee. Still others may depend more on the insurance provided by shipping companies. In this case, an e-commerce fulfillment service that provides a higher level of control and supervision over its processes—from inventory acceptance to final shipping—can help you determine responsibility for any issues.
Some older e-commerce fulfillment houses may invoke what's called a "shrinkage allowance," which lets them lose or damage a small percentage of inventory before their responsibility kicks in.
Professional Certifications Many industries have that professionals sign up for to get certified in their particular field. While there are some certifications that you can look for when choosing an e-commerce fulfillment service, there isn't any one single organization that oversees these facilities (aside from federal agencies that oversee the storage food, prescription medication, and other regulated products).
However, there are a few independent organizations that certify either the facilities or the people running them. Three of these organizations are the , the (IWLA), and the (WERC). Basic Security Protocols Security is also a concern when it comes to choosing an e-commerce fulfillment service.
You want to make sure that they have basic protocols in place for the safety of your inventory. This doesn't only mean having guarded entrances and video monitoring. You want to know how your inventory is followed from truck to storage, and then how it is packed and shipped out.
These days, the ability to monitor each step of the way by using , , or a combination thereof can be extremely helpful. Some e-commerce fulfillment services will also let you inspect their facilities. Annual or Monthly Contracts Finally, check to make sure that you're not contractually stuck with an e-commerce fulfillment service with which you're not happy. Many e-commerce fulfillment services, especially those that work with smaller merchants, offer their services on a month-to-month basis so that you can move on if there's a problem.
Some will offer that up to a certain point. If, for example, you're moving several thousand items per month, then you need an annual . If your e-commerce fulfillment service does insist on a contract, then make sure that the contract includes a reasonable cancellation policy.
Real-Time Customer Support One of the greatest advantages that a good e-commerce fulfillment service can give to an online retailer is immediate access to information on your inventory via great .
This access is offered via web-based software. The feature set can vary widely, but there should be certain basics available to you. To begin with, you should be provided with real-time access to how much inventory you have in each of the service's warehouses. You should know when products arrive from the manufacturer, when orders arrive, when orders are packed and shipped out, and when returns arrive and what is done with them.
Electronically Accepted Orders One important service that an e-commerce fulfillment company can provide is to accept orders electronically by integrating with e-commerce applications such as Shopify and retail distribution companies such as Amazon. If you're already invested in a third-party shopping website or (POS) system, then you will want to check to see if the e-commerce fulfillment house works seamlessly with your existing setup or if it can set you up using an (API).
However, there should always be a way for the vendor to manually intercede. For example, if customers call in a panic because they put in their wrong address, then you will want to be able to cancel or edit the order.
Sales, Marketing, and Reports Other features to look for in an e-commerce fulfillment service include the ability to track weekly and monthly sales, produce a variety of reports, or easily enter a support request. Some services offer features that help with marketing, such as the ability to sort customers according to where they are located or how many products they have bought (so that you can mark them for campaigns and other promotions).
Since most POS systems already offer these services, these features may not be on the top of your needs list for an e-commerce fulfillment service, but they're a nice plus.
In the end, the success of an e-commerce fulfillment service can only be judged by how quickly and efficiently the service gets your product to your customers. Once you have chosen an e-commerce fulfillment service, you have, in essence, chosen a partner in your company's success, so choose carefully.
In this roundup, we preview 10 e-commerce fulfillment services for you to consider for your business. The services include eFulfillment Service, Fulfillify, Ingram Micro Commerce and Lifecycle Services, Rakuten Super Logistics, Red Stag Fulfillment, ShipBob, Shipfusion, Ships-a-Lot, Sprocket Express, and Whiplash. Read the individual previews for our initial impressions of each e-commerce fulfillment service. Pros: There are no minimum order volume requirements or extra fees for smaller order amounts.
Cons: Because EFS distributes inventory primarily out of one warehouse, it may not be appropriate for large companies, especially those that are expanding into international sales. Bottom Line: eFulfillment Service is a family-owned business that is focused on small to midsize retailers, and which handles a variety of products, mostly small-parcel shipments.
• Pros: Month-to-month pricing allows businesses that want to try out the software to do so without obligation. Cons: Very few user comments about Fulfillify available. Bottom Line: Fulfillify can offer its customers pricing that is suitable for smaller businesses but combined with the resources of a larger company. • Pros: Has an impressive number of e-commerce fulfillment facilities, some owned and some leased.
Cons: Several online user complaints from startups about the company's customer support and responsiveness to them. Bottom Line: Ingram Micro Commerce and Lifecycle Services has a wide range of customers, but is best suited for its enterprise and large retail customers. • Pros: Integrates with several online shopping carts and marketplaces. Cons: Lacks pricing information on the Rakuten website.
Bottom Line: Rakuten Super Logistics may not be ideal for startups that want to work with more interactive online services, but the company's warehouse network and extended services could make it worthwhile for large companies with more varied inventory. • Pros: Charges month-to-month. Doesn't use long-term contracts. Solid automation features. Cons: Its user interface places the emphasis on plain data rather than aesthetics. Bottom Line: Red Stag Fulfillment's commitment to using modern technology to streamline its operations and ensuring full transparency as to the location and condition of inventory makes it a desirable service.
• Pros: Unusual transparency regarding fees, which ShipBob details on its pricing page. Cons: Lacks the ability to handle anything that needs refrigeration or that requires special permissions, such as prescription medications. Bottom Line: ShipBob has put together a service with a solid range of available warehouses and an unusually clear pricing structure.
• Pros: Strict security protocols. Deploys internal cameras and issues rules for employees on what they can carry in, and other safety measures. Cons: Minimum of 500 shipments per month for Shipfusion customers so smaller companies may need to look elsewhere. Bottom Line: Shipfusion could be a good e-commerce fulfillment service for small to midsize online retail businesses that deal in smaller items, especially those that may need some hand holding along the way. • Pros: The majority of its clients sell using Shopify, although the company can also handle multiplatform sales on Amazon and other services.
Cons: Operates only a single warehouse, so companies that do large amounts of shipping to the coasts may want to look for companies that have more diverse storage space. Bottom Line: Ships-a-Lot could be an ideal e-commerce fulfillment service for a startup or small independent e-commerce concern, especially one that uses Shopify as its online store.
• Pros: Software interfaces with Amazon, eBay, and some other marketplaces, as well as with shopping cart apps like Shopify. Cons: Few user comments available because Sprocket Express is not a large company. Bottom Line: Most of Sprocket Express' customers sell consumer goods and perishable goods.
Its software works with a wide range of marketplaces and shopping cart apps. • Pros: Charges clearly laid out on Whiplash website unlike most of its competitors. Cons: Relatively short support hours, which may be a concern for high-volume retailers. Bottom Line: While Whiplash offers specialized services for clients in the music industry, its typical clients are e-commerce companies with a strong online presence. They include mostly startups, or small to midsize retailers that sell smaller items.
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