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Memphis 3PL: The Pros and Cons of Centralized Fulfillment

Geoff Whiting

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One of the most critical decisions you must make about your eCommerce operations is your warehouse locations. If your headquarters is in Memphis or a nearby area of Tennessee, a Memphis 3PL could be a good choice for your eCommerce fulfillment. However, you might not want to concentrate your third-party logistics in just one location; for many online retailers, a national fulfillment strategy serves customers and the business better.

Centralizing your fulfillment with a company like Red Stag may be the right solution for reaching your entire customer base.

order fulfillment

Benefits of a Memphis 3PL

If you’re going to pick a single location for your order fulfillment, Memphis is not a bad choice. FedEx Express has its hub in Memphis, so a Memphis 3PL is well-positioned for fast shipping with FedEx. 

And Tennessee is a good site for shipping to a range of customers, reaching most of the East Coast and the Midwest in two days or less. However, if you only use a Memphis warehouse, your orders will take three to four days to reach most western states. National fulfillment will serve you better if you ship to customers across the U.S.

Red Stag Fulfillment delivery map

A national fulfillment supply chain solution

At Red Stag Fulfillment, we put a lot of thought into our warehouse locations. Our warehouses in and near Knoxville, TN, offer some of the same advantages as a Memphis warehouse: proximity to the FedEx hub and fast shipping to a large segment of the U.S. However, we supplement our Tennessee warehouses with a second location in Salt Lake City, UT.

We can ship our clients’ orders to 96% of U.S. addresses in two days or less from those two locations. And, if you import merchandise through a West Coast port, freight costs to Utah will be lower than shipping everything to Tennessee.

With Red Stag Fulfillment’s strategic warehouses, you get:

Find out how excellent fulfillment can improve your inventory management

Centralized fulfillment pros and cons

A centralized fulfillment strategy places all your inventory in a single warehouse location.

Pros of centralized fulfillment

The benefits of handling order fulfillment from a central warehouse include:

  • Inventory management is easier because you have all your stock in one place. You avoid filling a single order from multiple warehouses to locate available stock of different SKUs. You work with a single reorder level, so restocking is simpler too.
  • You can carry less inventory. When you hold merchandise in multiple locations, you need safety stock in each warehouse, so you need to keep more stock on hand. That increases your carrying costs and your chances of being stuck with outdated merchandise.
  • You can keep your fulfillment close to home. If you ship from just one location in the same city or region as your company’s offices (or even operate your own warehouse), you can easily stop by in person. That makes resolving any issues that come up more straightforward, and you can keep a closer eye on your 3PL.

Cons of centralized fulfillment

However, central fulfillment also has serious downsides. Here are a few drawbacks of a central warehouse location:

  • Your customers will wait longer for their orders. Using more than one warehouse allows you to deliver orders more quickly to people in various geographic areas.
  • You’ll pay more for shipping (or your customers will). Shipping packages from farther away not only increases delivery time but also increases shipping costs. That can depress sales (if the customer pays for shipping) or hurt your bottom line (if you offer free shipping).
  • Centralized fulfillment can add to the cost of customer acquisition. Because delivery time and shipping costs are critical metrics for online shoppers, sticking with a single warehouse can make attracting new customers more challenging (that is, more expensive). Your customer loyalty may also be fragile, with competitors able to lure your buyers away by offering faster shipping and lower costs. 

Central fulfillment with a Memphis 3PL

If the pros of central fulfillment outweigh the cons, a Memphis 3PL, or any Tennessee fulfillment center, is an excellent choice. Tennessee’s location gives you two-day shipping to a wide swath of the United States, including major population centers along the Eastern Seaboard, the South, much of the Midwest, and Texas.

Memphis 3PL

National logistics solutions pros and cons

A national logistics strategy places your goods in strategic locations that maximize your reach while minimizing your inventory distribution. For example, Red Stag Fulfillment has two warehouse locations, Knoxville, TN, and Salt Lake City, UT. Our clients that use both sites can ship to 96% of U.S. addresses in two days or less. By getting that broad reach with just two locations, you simplify inventory management and carry less stock than you’d need if you fulfilled from many places. 

As noted above, national logistics from multiple fulfillment hubs requires enhanced inventory management, and it might not be as easy for you to visit your fulfillment centers in person (though most 3PLs welcome client visits). However, for growing eCommerce enterprises, the advantages of a national fulfillment plan outweigh the downsides. Here are three ways strategic warehouse locations can help optimize your eCommerce fulfillment.

Transportation services logistics

It’s almost impossible to run a consumer products business today without using a global supply chain to procure raw materials, manufacturing, finished goods, or all of the above. Incorporating national logistics into your international supply chain can reduce freight costs by reducing the average distance from the port to the fulfillment warehouse. 

Shipping product to more than one fulfillment center increases supply chain complexity. However, managed properly, fulfillment through a national network of warehouses can improve supply chain efficiency and reduce costs by routing goods directly from their ports of entry to locations close to the end consumer.

Two-day delivery

Two-day delivery is an eCommerce amenity that consumers value highly. A national logistics operation can make two-day delivery without expedited shipping a low-cost option for most or all of your customers. 

Choose the best 3PL for your business

Every 3PL has strengths and weaknesses. For example, Red Stag Fulfillment specializes in shipping heavy, bulky, fragile, and high-value products. We’re experts in that niche. If you sell oversized or high-value items, we’re probably the best 3PL for you, even if your business isn’t located near one of our warehouses.

Similarly, if you sell jewelry, clothing, food products, wine, CBD, or hazardous materials, you need a 3PL that knows just how to ship your items. If there’s a Memphis 3PL that works with other clients who sell products similar to yours, that could be an excellent choice for your fulfillment. However, when you choose national fulfillment, you can choose from all the 3PLs in the U.S. and find one that suits your needs.

Specialization is just one benefit of looking beyond 3PLs that can provide warehousing near you. Going with a national fulfillment services provider lets you seek the quality and personal service you need to grow and scale your business. For instance, Red Stag Fulfillment, in addition to our unmatched fulfillment guarantees, offers value-added services such as kitting. And our same-day fulfillment gets your orders out the day the customer checks out, which makes your two-day shipping truly take two days.

shipping warehouse services

Get the benefits of national fulfillment from a Tennessee 3PL

If you’re looking for a Memphis 3PL, consider Red Stag Fulfillment instead. Our warehouses in Knoxville and Sweetwater, Tennessee, offer a similar central fulfillment location to Memphis with new, state-of-the-art warehouses. Our second hub in Utah gives you easy access to national fulfillment. 

We ship over 3 million packages every year, so whatever challenge you have with oversized or high-value fulfillment, we’ve probably already figured it out. What are your logistics problems? We’d like to help you solve them.

Learn More About RSF's Strategic  Warehouse Locations

More about centralized and national fulfillment:

Red Stag Fulfillment is a 3PL founded by ecommerce operators, and built for scaling businesses.

A team of fulfillment fanatics who care about our clients’ businesses like their own. We see things from our customers’ perspective, and have the guarantees to prove it.

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