Fulfillment services aren’t interchangeable. Different 3PLs have different strengths and specializations. We know that Red Stag Fulfillment isn’t the right choice for everyone. (Though we are a great fulfillment choice for many eCommerce companies!) We sometimes refer potential clients to competitors who can better serve them. In this article, we consider the features of Red Stag Fulfillment vs. ShipMonk. Both companies are among the best fulfillment service companies in the US. Which one you choose will depend on the 3PL services your eCommerce business needs.
The right fulfillment partner has to fit your business in several ways. It has to be able to handle your order volume (whether that’s large or small). Your ideal 3PL should offer the services and the level of service that you need. You need to consider shipping and delivery times. Last, but not least, you should outsource your logistics to a company that specializes in products similar to yours.
Assessing Red Stag Fulfillment vs. ShipMonk
The US is home to hundreds of fulfillment companies. They range in size from operations with one small warehouse to companies with fulfillment centers across the country. When you’re looking for a fulfillment partner, the first task is to make sure that you are choosing one of the best fulfillment services companies. High quality fulfillment is vital if you want to expand your eCommerce business.
Beyond quality, however, it’s important to consider fulfillment warehouse capabilities. You need a 3PL that has experience with products like yours and provides the services you need. That is the outsourced fulfillment provider that will help your business grow.
When you’re choosing between Red Stag Fulfillment and ShipMonk, both companies get high marks for quality fulfillment services. However, they have different strengths and expertise. Those are the factors that will influence your decision. We’ve laid out the basics here to help you decide which 3PL is best for you.
3 key factors to consider when you choose a fulfillment service
Initially, you can narrow down your fulfillment choices by considering these three high-level metrics.
- Monthly order volume. If you don’t ship a minimum number of monthly orders, some fulfillment companies won’t work with you. In other cases, you might have to pay a minimum fee that covers more than the services you need. Find a 3PL that works with eCommerce businesses your size, whether you’re brand new or shipping thousands of orders.
- Typical parcel weight. Most eCommerce orders weigh less than 10 pounds. If your products fall into that range, you can choose from a wide range of fulfillment companies. For heavier or bulky items, choose a 3PL company that specializes in oversize packages. Ask about typical parcel weight rather than average parcel weight. Averages may not tell you what type of products the company specializes in shipping.
- Order-to-SKU ratio. Some fulfillment companies adhere to a strict order-to-SKU ratio. Others may use SKU breadth more loosely as a factor when deciding if a client will work well in their warehouses. Order-to-SKU ratio compares how many orders you ship each month to the number of different SKUs you stock.
Minimum monthly shipments
When you explore Red Stag Fulfillment vs. ShipMonk for your fulfillment provider, monthly minimums is an important question. Red Stag asks for a minimum of 200 orders per month, with some flexibility about that number. ShipMonk doesn’t have a monthly order minimum, but it does have a monthly minimum fee of $250 for picking and packing.
Red Stag Fulfillment works well with companies that have a steady flow of orders, but doesn’t have a high minimum. ShipMonk is open to taking on startups and companies that have a smaller number of orders, but there may be an additional cost if you ship a very low volume of orders.
What is the typical parcel weight for Red Stag Fulfillment vs. ShipMonk?
The bulk of ShipMonk’s orders fall in the 1 to 10 pound range, which is typical for most eCommerce orders. Red Stag Fulfillment serves the heavier segment of the market. Most of Red Stag’s orders weight 20 pounds or more. RSF is known as an industry leader in heavy and bulky fulfillment.
Typical product weight matters because everything in the warehouse centers around it. Fulfillment centers that ship smaller items will be set up to minimize shipping costs for small parcels. The warehouse will be stocked with packing such as bags, mailing envelopes, and small, lightweight boxes. On the other hand, shipping heavy products requires a warehouse with wide aisles and heavy-duty packing stations. A fulfillment company like Red Stag Fulfillment will be able to help you reduce DIM weight costs and save on bulky shipping.
Order-to-SKU Ratio Considerations
When you consider the SKU breadth for Red Stag Fulfillment vs. ShipMonk, they come out the same. Neither company has order-to-SKU requirements. However, it’s helpful to understand the concept. You may encounter it in your logistics operations. In addition, SKU breadth can be a useful metric for inventory management and planning.
Let’s take an example of an order-to-SKU ratio of 6:1. You have 10 SKUs. To meet the ratio, you need to ship six times the number of your SKUs, or 60 orders per month. The more SKUs you stock, the more orders you need to ship to meet the ratio.
National fulfillment and warehouse locations
Another important factor when you choose an order fulfillment company is warehouse locations. Ideally, you’ll be able to warehouse your products close enough to most of your customers to deliver orders in a couple of days. Fast shipping is one of the perks that online shoppers like the most.
The only thing customers like better is free shipping. With well-placed warehouses, you can reduce shipping zones, which lowers your shipping costs. That makes it easier for you to offer free shipping. The warehouse location strategies of Red Stag Fulfillment vs. ShipMonk are slightly different.
Red Stag Fulfillment Warehouse Locations
Red Stag has two warehouses, in Knoxville, TN, and Salt Lake City, UT. These two warehouses can ship to 97% of US addresses in two days or less.
ShipMonk Warehouse Locations
ShipMonk’s three warehouses are located in San Bernardino, CA, Pittston, PA, and Fort Lauderdale, FL. From there, you can reach customers in dense population centers on both coasts in one to two days.
Additional questions to help you decide between Red Stag Fulfillment and ShipMonk
In addition to the metrics addressed here, you should ask many other questions. Detailed questions will help you assess Red Stag Fulfillment vs. ShipMonk. Here are just a few:
- What is the shrinkage allowance? In other words, how much of your inventory can the fulfillment company lose or damage before they reimburse you for the loss? (Hint: the right answer is zero.)
- What are your policies on reverse logistics? Find out how the company can help you process returns quickly.
- Do you offer same-day shipping? Make sure your orders won’t get hung up at the warehouse. Same-day shipping reduces delivery times.
- Which eCommerce platforms do you integrate with? Make sure the 3PL can process your multi-channel orders seamlessly.
- How long does receiving take? Inventory that’s stuck on the receiving dock isn’t making you money.
- What service charges can I expect? Find out if the fulfillment provider charges for inventory management, account management, or other fees. Make sure you have the full picture of your fulfillment costs ahead of time.
Red Stag Fulfillment has created a fulfillment questionnaire that covers these and many other topics. Whether or not you think Red Stag is a good fit for your business, please download and use the questionnaire. You may not need to ask all the questions; it’s very exhaustive. But it will help you address every possible fulfillment issue up front. We hope it helps you find the right fulfillment company for you.
Before you choose Red Stag Fulfillment or ShipMonk, or another fulfillment provider, reach out to a sales rep. Visit a warehouse if you can. Fulfillment can make or break your eCommerce business. Take the time to make sure it’s a good fit before you start working with a new 3PL.