ECommerce businesses often turn to 3PL companies to help with fulfillment, shipping, and logistics. Your 3PL company is an important link in your supply chain. Slow or inaccurate third-party logistics can damage your business. You need to choose one of the best 3PL companies to keep your customers happy with accurate and on-time order fulfillment.
Red Stag Fulfillment has been considered one of the best 3PL companies in the U.S. year after year. However, our services aren’t the right fit for every eCommerce seller. Choosing the best 3PL company also means choosing one that is a good fit for your business.
We’ve compiled a list of the best 3PL companies to give you a head start on your 3PL planning. But first, let’s start with the 3PL basics.
A note as we get started
Nothing in this article is meant to imply a legal relationship between Red Stag Fulfillment, LLC and any of the companies mentioned. Red Stag Fulfillment, LLC does not own any other company’s trademarks referenced or included in this article.
Information gathered for this article came from a mix of publicly available news and websites, websites of the companies mentioned, and direct communication with named companies. We reached out to every company included to help verify information and will gladly update this page when informed of new services, warehouse locations, and other details.
Our mission is to provide you, the reader, with a better understanding of your options because there are many amazing growth logistics partners available. Red Stag’s experts are happy to answer your questions and address issues or even make referrals to help you get the best fit for your operations.
What is a 3PL?
A third-party logistics company, or 3PL, is one that manages fulfillment operations for others. 3PLs handle warehousing and order fulfillment, with a mix of other supporting activities such as inventory management and carrier negotiations. Your 3PL will receive shipments from a factory or manufacturer. When orders come in, your 3PL will pick the products, pack them, and hand them off to a shipping company for delivery.
The word logistics, in manufacturing and eCommerce, refers to the movement of products from supplier to end customer. While freight is usually considered 2PL, we have included some freight companies in our guide because they are an important element of logistics for some companies. We’ve also included some of the top logistics companies. Logistics can include supply chain management, which would generally be classified as 4PL.
Most 3PL companies specialize in warehousing inventory and picking, packing, and shipping orders. Therefore, the main focus of this guide is on the best 3PL companies for eCommerce fulfillment.
Best 3PL companies for order fulfillment
The best 3PL companies provide accurate order fulfillment, excellent customer service, and on-time performance. For example, Red Stag Fulfillment offers accuracy guarantees, and we will pay our clients $50 on the rare occasions when we make a mistake (plus correct the mistake).
While we work very hard to be one of the best 3PL companies, the final selection of a partner should be based on your needs. Because we’re committed to helping your eCommerce business find the best 3PL, Red Stag’s teams may assist you with onboarding with us or make a referral. This resource is designed to support those referrals and decisions.
In this guide to the best 3PLs of 2023, we profile five top fulfillment companies:
- Red Stag Fulfillment
This guide outlines some of the metrics that can help determine which of the best 3PL companies might be a good fit for your business. We hope, by the end, that you have enough information to know where to start your search.
How to find the right 3PL company for your fulfillment
Every 3PL company has strengths and weaknesses. At Red Stag Fulfillment, for example, we have built our warehouse with extra-wide aisles and heavy-duty equipment to accommodate bulky and heavy products. We use our oversized shipping expertise to help our clients reduce their dimensional weight shipping charges. Our experienced warehouse staff packs and ships everything from paddleboards to office chairs and all the parts and small components these need to keep working.
The right fit will depend on the size of your business, how many different products (SKUs) you sell, your growth trajectory, and where in the world you ship your orders. Look for matches based on your order volume and minimums that companies require, plus how they price each option. Now, let’s dive into the companies on our list.
Red Stag Fulfillment
At Red Stag Fulfillment, we like to think of ourselves as a strategic growth partner. Our 3PL capabilities are designed to help you streamline operations and get back to the marketing and selling that keep your business running. That means our experts provide warehousing and eCommerce fulfillment services, inventory management support, robust integrations, and leading customer service.
One of our specialties is handling large and oversized items, which can be a challenge for many other 3PLs. That means each of our three U.S. locations can support furniture, heavy equipment, outdoor goods, and more. But, we’re also a top logistics partner for companies with smaller products that are carving out their own niche.
Additionally, we offer API and EDI support, including integrations with popular eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, along with leading carts and tracking tools. Our efforts are designed to save businesses a lot of time and effort when it comes to managing their logistics operations.
Partners speak highly of our service capabilities, including a 99.965% on-time shipment rate and 99.993% order accuracy rate for all of 2021. They also love our guarantees designed to protect their operations and bottom line, which is why many call us their “secret weapon” for customer satisfaction.
Red Stag does not have firm monthly minimums or a required order-to-SKU ratio, however we’re best suited to help companies that need to fill hundreds to thousands of orders per month. A typical package at Red Stag Fulfillment weighs around 30 pounds, and we specialize in shipping products that weigh 20 pounds or more. Red Stag doesn’t have an upper weight limit (at least not that we’ve found yet). Our three separate warehouse campuses in two states can reach more than 96% of American homes within two days.
Getting you back to work on the business you love
We pride ourselves on being able to get the job done well, eliminating worry and hassle from our partners’ day. That means being experts in every aspect of order fulfillment. It also includes sharing detailed information about our capabilities and our industry in posts like this one. If you’ve got a question, we’re happy to answer it. And if you need help, we’re happy to provide that service or make a referral so you can have the right 3PL for your business.
FloShip is a 3PL that specializes in international shipping and logistics. They offer a wide range of services to help businesses of all sizes manage their international shipping needs, covering freight forwarding, customs clearance, and parcel delivery. Online reviews speak highly of these capabilities as well as the company’s tech platform and integration. The company’s CTO has said it is investing heavily in AI capabilities to support general automation and facilitate cross-border movements.
FloShip first landed on our radar as a top 3PL for crowdfunding businesses that sourced products from or had manufacturing partners in China. The company has established the entire supply chain ecosystem for some partner campaigns. It offers a worldwide network of 12 fulfillment centers and warehouse locations, powerful integrations, and a suite of AI tools, the company supports a broad range of products and partners.
According to the company, the main categories it deals with include fashion and apparel, consumer electronics, personal care, and high-ticket items. While it does not have a specific order-to-SKU ratio requirement, the company says ideal partners have larger order volumes with minimal SKU counts. It looks for a monthly order volume of 800 to 1,500, depending on different factors.
The bulk of the orders it ships are less than 5 kg (11 pounds), though it does not have any set weight limit for orders. Products can ship from its four U.S. locations, or businesses can get support from its seven international locations.
ShipBob is a 3PL that focuses on direct-to-consumer (DTC) eCommerce and serves customers across many different industries. Its messaging and support prioritize its approach as a technology company as well, with a broad list of integration partners. It has multiple fulfillment centers located throughout the U.S. and promises “100% coverage for 2-day shipping across the U.S.”
Like many 3PLs, ShipBob offers additional capabilities beyond pick-and-pack, including the use of branded packaging, kitting, wholesale, and returns management. Customers often say its software is easy to use and its additional services add value to the company’s capabilities.
According to the company, it requires a 4:1 order-to-SKU ratio but does not have a set monthly order minimum. It provides a separate Growth Plan for businesses under 400 orders per month. ShipBob boasts more than 25 warehouse locations in the U.S. as well as several fulfillment centers in Australia, Canada, the UK, and mainland Europe.
The top industries it fulfills for are beauty and supplements, with a representative saying it is generally “best for low SKU count, smaller products.” It has a max weight of 50 pounds and a max product size of 48 inches on any dimension (length, width, or height). ShipBob also has a freight management program that can help brands shipping inventory from China to the U.S.
ShipMonk is a 3PL that offers a comprehensive range of logistics services for eCommerce businesses of all sizes. It provides order fulfillment and inventory management as well as Amazon-focus support. The company notes that it can handle large volumes of orders and is willing to work with a broad range of product sizes and categories, including some that may have limitations or additional regulations, such as food and beverage items.
Customers tend to give ShipMonk positive marks for its support in order management and cost controls. It’s cited as being fast to respond, and the software is easy to use. Furthermore, it offers a variety of shipping options, including international shipping, which can be a major advantage for businesses that sell internationally.
When it comes to pricing and requirements, ShipMonk says it does not have a setup fee nor does it set monthly order minimums or any specific order-to-SKU ratio. However, ShipMonk does have a minimum monthly pick and pack fee of $250.
A company spokesperson said it tends to work with smaller packages and the average order is under 10 pounds, but it can support larger products and packages. At the end of 2022, ShipMonk added the 11th location to its global network of first-party fulfillment centers in the southern U.S.
ShipNetwork is a third-party logistics company that offers order management, shipping, inventory management, and warehouse management services for a variety of eCommerce and retail companies. You may be familiar with the company under its prior name of Rakuten Super Logistics, which was changed after it was acquired in August 2022.
ShipNetwork has expanded its carrier and services, including its own Xparcel shipping brand. Customers and reviewers online talk positively about its tracking and reporting tools, which help businesses stay on top of orders and overall logistics operations. It’s got a strong list of integration partners including eCommerce platforms, shopping carts, and marketplaces.
Based on information on its website and conversations with its sales and support teams at the start of 2023, ShipNetwork says it requires a 4:1 order-to-SKU ratio. While it generally has a 1,000 monthly order minimum, a representative said it does consider customers with at least 500 orders. The service operates 12 locations across the U.S. and says it has an eye toward expansion.
A company representative said ShipNetwork tends to work with smaller products and order sizes, though it has capabilities to accommodate a broad range. The only limit it shared with us is a maximum weight of 150 lbs. It offers its own Xparcel service and recommends customers contact ShipNetwork directly for pricing, capabilities, and restrictions there.
Best 3PL companies: logistics and freight
The warehousing/order processing/fulfillment combo isn’t the only type of 3PL company. Some of the best 3PL companies combine warehousing and supply chain management with trucking and transportation services. At the same time, many freight companies do more than just trucking. They can help with multi-modal transport, logistics, warehousing, and other services that take them into the 3PL space.
Here is a small sampling of those brands that can help if you need this 3PL support. These options focus on managing your entire logistics operations or prioritizing the movement of freight.
Ryder Supply Chain Solutions
Ryder Supply Chain Solutions provides reliable transport as well as state-of-the-art warehousing services.
DHL Supply Chain North America
Based in Germany, DHL is best known for international deliveries. If you need help with international logistics, DHL can help you out in almost any country on the planet.
UPS Supply Chain Solutions
UPS does more than deliver packages. The company’s logistics arm helps companies effectively manage their supply chains, offering a range of services.
FedEx Supply Chain Services
FedEx delivers packages and freight, and its supply chain arm provides 3PL solutions for eCommerce companies of all sizes.
With a focus on LTL and FTL transportation, ArcBest can help you solve your logistics challenges and get large and complex products where they need to go.
XPO offers truckload freight and air transportation services as well as warehousing and distribution.
More tips on finding the right 3PL company for your eCommerce business
Once you have narrowed your search for the best 3PL company, your work is not done. There are many other factors you may want to consider. Kitting services are important if you want to sell a set of products under a new SKU. You may want your 3PL to handle returns or customer service. The 3PL you choose needs to have a dashboard that connects with all your eCommerce platforms.
You will have a lot of questions when you’re looking for the best 3PL company for your business. But there’s only one question you’ll regret: the one you didn’t ask. To help you cover all your bases, Red Stag Fulfillment has put together a fulfillment company questionnaire. Feel free to use it, whether you end up working with us or with one of the other best 3PL companies. The most important thing is to make the best choice for you.