Best Fulfillment Service Companies

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At Red Stag Fulfillment, it’s our honor to speak with thousands of eCommerce businesses and online sellers, foreign and domestic, who want to learn more about our order fulfillment and 3PL services. We are committed to helping your business in its search for a long-term warehousing and fulfillment partner because we know first-hand how important it is to find the best fulfillment service for your eCommerce brand.

When it comes to order fulfillment services, there is no such thing as the single best company in the world. There is, however, such a thing as the best fulfillment company for your needs. We believe that every business should work with the best fulfillment service to meet its needs.

Finding the Best Fulfillment Company

Best fulfillment service companies

Red Stag Fulfillment is a world-class fulfillment provider for shipping heavy, fragile, oversized, and high-value merchandise. This guide is designed to give you an unbiased overview of several fulfillment providers with a range of expertise. Use it as a place to start your search for the best fulfillment service for you.

We’ve included details about six fulfillment companies, each of which has different requirements and areas of expertise. We’ve included average parcel weights, fulfillment minimums, warehouse locations, and SKU breadth requirements for these fulfillment services:

  • eFulfillment Service
  • ShipBob
  • Rakuten Super Logistics
  • ShipMonk
  • Red Stag Fulfillment

We hope that this guide will help you find the best fulfillment service for your business. If you need more guidance to match you with the best order fulfillment company for your business, please feel free to reach out to us. We are experts at helping eCommerce companies determine how best to meet their fulfillment needs and we’d love to help you.

3 Factors to Determining the Best Order Fulfillment Company for Your Business

best fulfillment service data points

When you start your search, you might think you simply need to find the best fulfillment service in the U.S. It’s almost impossible to quantify which is the best order fulfillment company, however. The right fit depends on the products you ship and the size of your business. The best fulfillment provider for one eCommerce business might be the wrong choice for another.

Before you start your search for your best fulfillment service, it’s helpful to get clear about your business operations. Here are three data points to quantify before you outsource your fulfillment.

1) Product Weight and Size

What are the physical attributes of the products my company sells?

Most of the eCommerce packages shipped today are under 10 pounds. Check the weight of your average order. If you sell silk scarves, your average weight might be less than 1 pound. In that case, a fulfillment warehouse that specializes in shipping small orders is the best choice for you. If you sell heavy or bulky items, you need a different kind of fulfillment provider. You need one that knows how to safely store, pick, pack and ship larger orders.

2) Order Volume

How many packages do I ship per month?

For startups with low order volume, the best fulfillment service for you is one without monthly minimums. If you ship a high volume of orders, the monthly minimum order requirements of a larger fulfillment operation could be a plus. They could be an indication that these companies are well-equipped to manage your large order volume.

3) Inventory Breadth

How many unique SKUs do I sell?

The ratio of how many different items you sell to the number of orders you ship per month is called SKU breadth. Some fulfillment warehouses have a maximum SKU-to-order ratio. Even those without a strict requirement may want to assess your SKU breadth.

Best Fulfillment Services by Parcel Weight

Typical parcel weight for best ecommerce fulfillment services

Rakuten Super Logistics and ShipMonk primarily ship packages that weigh between 1 and 10 pounds. ShipBob specializes in orders of 20 pounds and under. eFulfillment Service also handles parcels that are smaller, with package size limited to 36 inches or less. On the other hand, Red Stag Fulfillment specializes in heavy and bulky items. Red Stag Fulfillment’s expertise is in shipping packages that weigh 5 pounds or more, including oversized and bulky items like furniture and bikes, as well as high-value merchandise.

Order Volume Minimums

Best Ecommerce Fulfillment monthly minimums

Monthly order minimums can be challenging for startups and small businesses. But, the more orders you ship each month, the bigger the discounts a fulfillment service provider can pass along to you.

eFulfillment Service and ShipMonk don’t have monthly order minimums. These fulfillment warehouses could be a great fit if you have a small business or your company is just getting off the ground. ShipMonk does have a monthly minimum pick and pack fee of $250.

ShipBob tends to work with companies that ship at least 200 orders per month. Red Stag Fulfillment works best for partners who are shipping hundreds to thousands of orders per month. Rakuten Super Logistics has a 1,000-order-per-month minimum.

Order minimums are not a judgment of your business. Consider them a good indicator of the strengths of each fulfillment company. Fulfillment centers with higher order minimums are positioned to work well with higher-volume sellers. Don’t assume, however, that a fulfillment provider that doesn’t have monthly minimums can’t handle your high-volume business.

If your business makes a few sales of higher dollar items each month, a company with a lower monthly minimum or no order minimum is a better choice. Your best fulfillment service is one that’s able to effectively match the pace of your business.

SKU Breadth Requirements

SKU breadth refers to the number of individual products your business sells. Generally speaking, the more SKUs you have, the greater the challenge it is to accurately manage your inventory. Be prepared to discuss the number of SKUs your business will need your fulfillment company to handle. This will help your potential fulfillment partner put together accurate pricing more quickly.

SKU breadth is usually considered in relation to order volume. A business with a wide SKU breadth might need to ship a high number of packages each month to be attractive to a 3PL provider. Some order fulfillment providers even have specific ratios they’re looking for:

ShipBob requires an  SKU-to-order ratio of 5:1 or more. None of the other best eCommerce fulfillment companies has a SKU breadth requirement, though Red Stag Fulfillment will consider the ratio of orders to SKUs when determining if they are a good fit for your business.

SKU Breadth Demystified

best fulfillment service by SKU breadth

SKU breadth is easier to understand with an example. If you sell 100 different SKUs, you’d need to ship at least 500 orders per month to meet ShipBob’s 5:1 SKU breadth requirement. You don’t need to ship five orders from each SKU, just 500 orders overall.

Rakuten Super Logistics and Red Stag Fulfillment don’t have SKU breadth requirements. But both fulfillment companies will still seek to understand the ratio of your SKU breadth to your order volume.

eFulfillment Service doesn’t consider SKU breadth. This order fulfillment company is a good solution for businesses with minimal order volume, independent of how many SKUs you sell.

There is an economy to selling higher quantities of fewer products, both for you and for your 3PL provider. You get greater volume discounts on your products. You also tie up less of your cash in inventory. For fulfillment providers, it’s typically easier to manage a smaller number of SKUs with high turnover. A large range of SKUs that sell less frequently provides more of a storage and fulfillment challenge.

However, there are advantages to having a wide product selection. If you only sell a few products, your customers may not find what they’re looking for in your online store. The lure of internet shopping is the ability to find precisely what you want. If your eCommerce shop has a broad selection, you’re more likely to keep customers interested and buying.

The trade-off between SKU breadth and sales volume is a balancing act for all businesses. For eCommerce sellers, it can affect your assessment of your best fulfillment service company.

Fulfillment Center Locations

Amazon continues to push the envelope on fast order delivery. Two-day shipping is currently the gold standard in the industry, thanks to Amazon Prime, but that could soon change. Amazon may offer one-day and even same-day shipping on some orders in the near future.

Amazon has a huge network of fulfillment centers across the US. If you sell on Amazon, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) can be a good fulfillment option. FBA gives you access to Prime shipping, which reaches more than 100 million Amazon Prime subscribers. That’s nearly one-third of the US population who qualify for Prime shipping. The reach of FBA is hard to beat for Amazon Marketplace sellers.

You don’t have to out-compete Amazon to run a successful eCommerce business, however. The best fulfillment service for your business might have one warehouse location or a dozen. It depends on your business model and your customer distribution.

Strategic Warehouse Location

If you ship from multiple fulfillment warehouses, you’ll incur the cost of shipping your goods to each warehouse location. On the other hand, the trucking cost may be more than offset by what you save on shipping. The fewer zones each package ships, the lower your shipping cost. Therefore, the closer your fulfillment warehouse is to your customers, the cheaper the cost of shipping.

If you offer free shipping, strategic warehouse locations can be crucial to your profitability. In addition, warehouse locations affect shipping time. Faster order delivery can be an incentive for your customers to place an order.

The best 3PL providers have a range of business models when it comes to warehouse locations. Some have a small number of warehouses strategically located to deliver quickly to most of the contiguous US states. Others have more warehouses around the country or across the globe to be close to your customers.

eFulfillment Service

fulfillment best fulfillment warehouse map

Red Stag Fulfillment

Red Stag Fulfillment fulfillment warehouse locations

ShipMonk

ShipMonk warehouses delivery zones map

ShipBob

ShipBob fulfillment warehouse locations

Rakuten Super Logistics

Rakuten Super Logistics fulfillment warehouse locations

Fulfillment Company Questionnaire

Before there was Red Stag Fulfillment, there was a pair of frustrated eCommerce entrepreneurs. They had struggled to find a fulfillment company that could provide the service they needed to ship their products. So, they created a fulfillment company questionnaire. Each time they interviewed a potential fulfillment provider, they asked the questions on the questionnaire and recorded the answers.

In the end, the entrepreneurs didn’t find a service that met their high standards, so they decided to start their own fulfillment business. However, you don’t have to start your own fulfillment warehouse to find a great fulfillment provider. Start with the questionnaire developed by the entrepreneurs behind Red Stag and feel free to modify it to add questions that are specific to your business needs. This questionnaire can be a great tool to help you find the best order fulfillment company for your business.

Outsourcing your fulfillment is an investment in the future of your eCommerce business. We hope this guide helps you in your search for the best fulfillment service for you.

Nothing in this article is meant to imply a legal relationship between Red Stag Fulfillment, LLC and and any company 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.

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2 Comments

  • Annie Wang

    We are small business. Need pick, pack and ship service to our wholesale and end user. Products: headsets and cables. Order volume: 100-300 per month. space need: 25-35 pallets. 40 pcs SKUs.

  • Amirali

    Hi, We are a start up shipping items that are around 8-10 ounces. Was wondering what your prices were. Thanks