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Order Fulfillment Services: How to Choose the Best 3PL Company

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Last updated on March 12th, 2019 at 12:15 pm

order fullfillment servicesThe word is out about your product and you’re ready to ship it to your customers.

For the small business, a third party logistics (3PL) fulfillment service may be the answer.

These companies focus on integrated operation, storage, and transportation services to get your products to your customers.

There are so many companies to choose from based on business size and needs. It can be difficult to make a decision.

We’re here to help and have chosen three top fulfillment services (ShipBobRedStag, and Fulfillment by Amazon) to compare so you can make the best decision for your business.

Our Top Pick for Order Fullfillment Services: ShipBob

ShipBob focuses on offering small businesses a high-level fulfillment service.

A rising star in the industry, it has some of the best rates available.

While ShipBob offers standard storage options, it also has a unique feature; a pick-up service in major cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

This pick-up service allows businesses to keep inventory close for quick access. And in fast paced cities like those mentioned, this can mean even more efficient fulfillment options leading to happy and repeat customers, underlining the bottom line.

But, it’s not just established small businesses they support. ShipBob also offers fulfillment services for those businesses grown from crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter.

This is great for small businesses that need to fill a lot of orders quickly and efficiently.

Visit ShipBob

Best 3PL Companies & Providers

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Why We Chose ShipBob As The Best 3PL Company

Features

Integrations

ShipBob integrates with top eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, eBay, Amazon, BigCommerce, and Magento. Additionally, their shipping vendors are the top four: DHL, FedEx, UPS, and USPS.

Shipping and Tracking

Working to ensure you get the best rate, ShipBob works with the four major providers, USPS, UPS, DHL, and FedEx.

You can ship both domestically and internationally. When shipping internationally, ShipBob will even fill out the customs forms for you.

Warehousing and Custom Packaging

With no picking and packing fees, storage can mean higher rates, but the peace of mind in storing your inventory with ShipBob is second to none.

When an order is placed, it’s already ready to go. This is especially true since ShipBob offers custom packaging from stickers, inserts to large or irregular sized items. What could be better?

Batch Fulfillment, Flexibility

Batch fulfillment services can be costly for small businesses. But, ShipBob will work with your company to avoid costly storage fees.

This option is great if you need to get a lot of product shipped quickly such as from a successful Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign.

They are able to plan ahead and treat those type of orders as extra special requiring additional attention. Their flexibility in accessing inventory is great for businesses that do pop-up stores or craft fairs.

Pricing

ShipBob’s low receiving and pick & pack charges can make it a great choice for those companies with quick inventory turnover.

A flat rate of $35 per order for receiving, $40 per month per pallet, and $5 per month for a bin, these rates help small businesses plan their shipping budgets efficiently.

In most cases, ShipBob keeps things simple and only charges $35 per delivery rather than per pallet. Additionally, ShipBob will pick up your products and package them for a flat $5 plus the cost of shipping.

This system is a great option for those who create and ship product directly from their home. This is also a good option for those sellers who lean toward Amazon and eBay or have a high level of inventory.

At the moment, local pick up is only available in Chicago, New York City, and most recently Los Angeles. To help your business optimize costs, ShipBob works to compare the best rates between USPS, FedEx, and DHL.

Downsides

With no fees for pick and pack, the downside to ShipBob is higher storage rates.

While this isn’t a problem for a company with less inventory, it may not be cost effective for those with higher inventory levels.

If you ship a high number of product regularly, ShipBob may not be the best option. But, if you’re a sole proprietor or small business with limited inventory, then ShipBob is an excellent option.

Verdict

A great option for small business, ShipBob has a dashboard option that integrates with your Amazon, Shopify, eBay or other eCommerce sites.

This allows you to see everything you need to know about your shipped item in real-time.

Not only does their dashboard show your inventory in their fulfillment centers, but even how your products are selling.

Visit ShipBob


Best Custom Fulfillment Service: FulfillmentCompanies.net

Our next pick is FulfillmentCompanies.net.   They’re not second because they’re second best.

Because what they’re best at is matching you with the perfect fulfillment service for your needs. Logistics is a complex service with lots of moving parts.

FulfillmentCompanies.net matches customer and provider with one of the companies from their database of over 500 fulfillment companies. Simple and easy-to-use, companies simply fill out a free survey and FulfillmentCompanies.net takes care of the rest.

 The Features

FulfillmentCompanies.net is a free service provided to businesses.

They work to successfully match your business with the best fulfillment service to meet your needs.

Unlike, ShipBob and RedStag, they are not providers themselves.

 Having been in business for nearly 15 years, originally a division of InsightQuote, they have strong experience in the industry.

Because of their long history in the fulfillment industry, they have a thoroughly developed system to make the best match.

A business interested in finding the best fulfillment service for their needs fills out a 45 questionnaire. This questionnaire helps FulfillmentCompanies.net to effectively and efficiently match providers and companies.

No Hidden Fees/No Fees at all

While their best feature is that there service is completely free, they offer much more. Even though FulfillmentCompanies.

net does not charge a fee for their service, they can help navigate potential fees from vendors. Though it is a simple process to work with them, they assist you with any questions and every step of the way.

Pre-Screening and Matching Survey

To make sure they’re on top of taking care of your needs, they offer a free online survey. In this survey, they gather the information to match you with one of their large database (500) of national and regional fulfillment centers.

In order to match you with the best possible provider, they offer nearly 50 factor questions.Prior to matching you, they work diligently to ensure the vendor is topnotch.

In their pre-screening process, their aim is to eliminate companies that don’t meet their standards. This saves you both time and money.

Some concerns they seek to alleviate include finding companies that have technology in place to prevent shipping errors and a modern inventory system.

It’s one thing to keep track of a shipped item by pen, paper, and email. It’s another for the customer, vendor, and business to know when and where an item is at any given moment.

Other considerations given when creating the perfect match is to remember that every company is different. They are not one-size-fits-all. 

The pre-screening process considers a number of factors. These factors include everything from a company’s past performance to customer satisfaction.

No fly-by-night companies in their repertoire, financial stability is a factor as are each company’s records and ratings.

Simplicity

Today, things have a tendency to become complicated quickly. However, FulfillmentCompanies.net is not.

In a three-step process, they will shortly have you matched and answering a bid for the best fulfillment company available for your business needs.

Simply fill out their form with general information, what you need, and they will match you with a company who will contact you by phone or email with their bid.

Pricing

The best thing about this service is that it’s free. Only the vendors bidding to win your business pay a small fee.

However, this does not happen until they are connected to a potential business needing a fulfillment company. No one receives a commission and this is not a brokerage service.

Verdict

If you don’t have the time or want to be sure you’re matched to the best fulfillment service, FulfillmentCompanies.net is a go-to company.

Their knowledge and expertise is used to work with vendors and businesses to find the most suitable match.

This saves you time and money by letting them find the best service for you. So, when your customers get their product on time and without issue, your return on investment is two-fold. Happy customers equal a healthy bottom line for your business.

Visit Fulfillment Companies


Best 3PL Service for Heavy, Valuable or Assembly Required Goods: RedStag

Sometimes, a product doesn’t fit nicely in a box. Sometimes it takes a bit more planning to ship an item.

Fragile items such as china, luxury goods, and items that weigh over 5 pounds or require assembly, we recommend RedStag.

Negotiated rates with larger shipping providers such as FedEx help you keep costs down. Additional services such as light assembly at affordable prices help show your customers how you go the extra mile.

And a quality control process which prevents goods from being damaged makes this fulfillment service a go-to for luxury items, furniture, and heavier items.

The Features

Integrations

Both RedStag and ShipBob integrate with top eCommerce platforms such as Shopify and Amazon. Additional integrations include  Bigcommerce, Magento, and custom API.

By integrating with well-known eCommerce platforms, customer orders can be more efficiently be filled and shipped.

Error Reduction

While no one wants an error in shipping their order, we are after all, only human. But, RedStag’s system works to reduce errors to the most minimal errors. Using their highly monitored system, they’ve reduced errors to 1 in 150,000 packages.

Support

RedStag’s unique feature of cameras over packing stations helps to protect businesses from inaccurate claims.

In addition, they have worked to find the best deal possible and have negotiated a deal with FedEx. When they save, you save. This is especially important when shipping heavier orders.

Assembly Required

You’ve got a product that requires some assembly. Your customer doesn’t want to have to figure it out. They want the product they ordered complete.

RedStag, unlike most fulfillment companies, not only ships your product, but will also assemble it for a competitive hourly rate. This is customer service at its finest.

Heavier and Valuable Product Focus

RedStag focuses on items that are heavier, like furniture or valuable, like jewelry. These items may not be shipped as often as other types of inventory, so their storage options and pricing take these things into consideration.

While they tend to focus on larger and valuable items, they include the additional service of assembly. This is great for company’s who may ship furniture, so customers don’t have to worry about figuring out how to put the pieces together.

Pricing

RedStag offers  lower storage fees and is a good alternative to those looking for a little longer storage time. For those with higher inventory requirements and high volume, this is a budget-friendly option.

Whether you need to ship luxury items such as jewelry or heavier items such as furniture, the flexible and affordable storage fees balance the potentially higher fees of delivery and pick and pack.

But, at a flat rate of $15 per month for a full pallet, RedStag is an affordable option for items that don’t fit neatly in a box.

Usually, heavy products mean a hefty price, but with RedStag’s negotiated rates, customers can save up to 45% off shipping rates.

That’s a hefty savings. And for a few dollars more, RedStag offers light assembly of a product for a reasonable $30 per hour.

Detailed price points regarding receiving, storing, picking and packing are as follows: Receiving is $13.25 per pallet. Storing rates begin at $3.75 per quarter pallet, $7.50 per half pallet, and $15 per full pallet per month.

Picking and Packing rates are $2.55 per item with an additional 30 cents per item per order. For smaller businesses, a shelf location of their choosing rate is $1.25 per month.

Downside

RedStag’s general focus on valuable and heavier items that may require assembly is limited. Businesses who have higher levels of inventory that must be shipped regularly may not find RedStag to be the best fit.

Verdict

If you sell handmade furniture, luxury watches or other items that may be heavier of valuable, RedStag is an excellent option.

Generally, these businesses make and ship as the order comes in, so the storage rates through RedStag are minimal.

And for the ultimate in customer service, RedStag also offers customization and light assembly, so customers get the best of both worlds; a fully assemble product for a reasonable price.

Visit RedStag


Best Fulfillment Service When Selling on Amazon: Fulfillment by Amazon

From solo proprietors to larger businesses, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) makes it a snap to fulfill your customer’s orders.

Sellers have access to a huge customer base and from marketing to shipping, Amazon offers assistance all along the way.

While there are steep fees associated with using their service, discounts and seller eligibility for Amazon Prime and free shipping may even out the high costs in using their service.

However, if your business has slower inventory turnover, the lower monthly storage fees at RedStag might represent a bargain. And, again, if you selling on Amazon’s marketplace, it would be nearly impossible to beat FBA’s rates.

Fulfillment companies must meet the needs of many different companies and store/ship a huge number of different products.

Naturally, storing and shipping some products will be more involved than others and 3PLs will adjust their charges to reflect a higher degree of difficulty.

Visit Fulfillment Companies


Order Fullfillment Services: Our Final Take

Want more time to focus on your business? A third party logistics company can take the logistics of fulfilling.

Orders off your plate saving you time and money. The important thing to know is what type of fulfillment company is best for your business.

If you’ve no idea where to begin; FulfillmentCompanies.net may be the best place to begin. Their 45 factor process and survey can help you find the best fit for your business.

For businesses with lower inventory ordered frequently, ShipBob is the way to go. This is an especially good option if you’ve got a lot of orders to be shipped after a successful crowdfunding campaign.

But, if your business sells heavier items or items requiring light assembly, RedStag offers affordable solid options.  If you sell through Amazon, then FBA is a no-brainer for small businesses interested in access to a large customer database and customer support.

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