Best Order Fulfillment Services Reviews & Comparisons

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Order fulfillment can be defined as the steps needed to receive, process, and deliver orders to customers. An order fulfillment service is a third-party company that fulfills orders for other enterprises such as online sellers.

Your company can benefit a great deal by outsourcing all or part of your order fulfillment operations. This is especially recommended for online stores that do not have warehouse and distribution facilities. In addition, even prominent “brick-and-mortar” enterprises can opt to hire order fulfillment services to enhance operational efficiency and reduce infrastructure expenses. For these reasons, the global order fulfillment services market is expected to grow at a healthy pace of 6% over the next few years and top $52.3 billion by 2021, up from $40 billion in 2016.

In this article, we provide the answer to the question, ”what is an order fulfillment service”? We also tell you how your company can benefit by hiring a reliable order fulfillment third-party company. Plus, we provide a shortlist of the best order fulfillment services in the industry. In short, we will discuss eight topics:

  1. Examples of order fulfillment services
  2. Benefits of an order fulfillment service
  3. Types of order fulfillment services
  4. Features of order fulfillment services
  5. Buying factors to consider
  6. Pricing of order fulfillment services
  7. Potential issues
  8. Latest trends

1. What are Examples of Best Order Fulfillment Services?

  1. ShipBob – Helps eCommerce businesses with logistics and shipping. Ideal for crowdfunding campaigns with less than 1000 unique SKUs, small sellers, and startups. ShipBob’s scalable solution utilizes technology, fulfillment, and logistical efficiency to get your products fast in the hands of your customers. This vendor manages its own warehouses and fulfillment, and also provides a full-service technology dashboard.
  2. FulfillmentCompanies.net – Offers high-quality contact center solutions and custom fulfillment services. Its solutions are tailored to match specific budget, shipping, volume, and storage needs. This firm takes the guesswork out by rigorously screening companies. They are experts in the fulfillment industry, so you can depend on them to find the right service for your fulfillment needs.
  3. Red Stag Fulfillment – Offers world-class eCommerce order fulfillment and 3PL (third-party logistics) services. Best for sellers shipping high-value, heavy, oversized, or special-handling products. Red Stag’s strategic placement of fulfillment warehouses in the US can help your company to reduce the cost of shipping orders to your customers. Combined with the vendor’s shipping rate discounts and same-day fulfillment guarantees, its national fulfillment network can help to reduce your business expenses while improving your customers’ satisfaction.
  4. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) – With FBA, you can store your products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers, and the vendor packs, ships, and offers customer support for these products. Recommended for Amazon sellers and eCommerce companies selling via Amazon and other sales channels. Amazon has created an advanced fulfillment network and your business can benefit from its expertise. On top of that, FBA can help you scale your business and service more customers.
  5. Fulfillify – Offers pick, pack and ship, inventory management, kitting, and returns processing. Recommended for all types of shippers plus subscription box businesses requiring custom packaging design and printing. Key advantages are fast signup, no setup fees, no long term contracts, and top notch fulfillment capabilities. This provider promises to reach 98.6% of the U.S. population in 1-2 days. 
  6. IDS Fulfillment – Offers results driven order fulfillment services designed around client needs. Ideal for companies needing special handling like food-grade fulfillment. IDS leverages proven processes to ensure your product leaves its building accurately and on time. This provider stands out for its ability to handle unique programs and complex inventory.
  7. Ships-a-Lot – Offers class top rate eCommerce fulfillment and 3PL services. Best for high-volume Shopify sellers and crowdfunding campaigns requiring large batch fulfillment. Ships-a-Lot boasts an impressive 99.98% accuracy rate. This vendor counts daily inventory with barcode scanners and logs all adjustments to guarantee the accuracy of your inventory.
  8. VelocityShip – At your service 100% of the time. Recommended for small and large eCommerce sellers including subscription box businesses. VelocityShip has API integrations that enable its software to sync with your online shopping cart, automating the entire ordering process. Plus, this provider leverages state-of-the-art fulfillment technology to allow you to meet your demand on a global scale.
  9. FedEx Fulfillment – Provides you a holistic, all-in-one approach to outsourced logistics including warehousing, fulfillment, packaging, and transportation. Ideal for international and multichannel sellers looking for an alternative to FBA. This vendor promises to empower your company to flex and scale as its experts focus on delivering a high-quality customer experience on behalf of your brand. In addition, their dedicated customer success specialists will closely collaborate with you all the way to ensure you and your customers receive top-notch care.
  10. Fulfillment.com – Helps you minimize your shipping costs, automate your fulfillment, and foray into new markets. Best for enterprises requiring network of fulfillment centers in the US and UK. You can leverage this vendor’s technology and logistics infrastructure for fulfillment and focus on your core business. Plus, you can enhance your customer reach by expanding to their global network of warehouses.

2. Why Use Order Fulfillment Services?

Read on to learn more about the main benefits of hiring the best order fulfillment services:

  1. Sales fluctuation and seasonal flexibility: During peak season, your sales increase and you need to hire additional workers, purchase more equipment, and lease extra warehouse space. However, during lean season, you will be saddled with these investments which will go idle. The solution is to hire an order fulfillment service and provide them the necessary levels of orders to meet current demand.
  2. Reduced shipping costs: Your business can benefit by offering free shipping to buyers. You can do this by hiring an order fulfillment firm that boasts regional, national, and international infrastructure. Such a company can provide bulk delivery discounts which can enable you to offer free shipping.
  3. Expand into new markets: You can foray into overseas markets without making undue capital investment. And if you suffer losses, you can pull out any time without losing much. The order fulfillment services company supplies the infrastructure and scales it to keep up with your business growth.
  4. Eliminate fixed costs: Your inventory costs rise during lean seasons as goods lie idle but you still need to shell out rent and utilities expenses for warehouse space. You can change this fixed cost into a variable one by hiring an order fulfillment service. Your order fulfillments costs will go down during lean season and of course increase during peak season with more sales.
  5. Focus on your main capabilities: You don’t have to worry about the complex logistics of order fulfillment. Simple hire an order fulfillment provider and let them do the packing and shipping, while you focus on improving your product and customer service.

Simplified overview of how order fulfillment works

3. What are the Types of Order Fulfillment Services?

Following are the main types of order fulfillment companies:

  1. Apparel fulfillment firms – these firms focus on the storage and distribution of clothing and apparel.
  2. eCommerce fulfillment firms –  these companies fulfill orders from online shopping carts.
  3. Warehouse firms – these firms simply store products in a warehouse.
  4. Public warehouse firms – these services store products and also ship out orders.
  5. CD/DVD fulfillment services – these firms make CDs and DVDs and ship them to customers.
  6. Fulfillment and call center companies in one – these enterprises offer fulfillment and call center services bundled together.
  7. Product fulfillment firms – these firms fulfill orders for various products.
  8. Order fulfillment firms – these firms focus on receiving orders for products and shipping them to buyers.
  9. Literature fulfillment firms – these organizations distribute literature and may also offer print services.
  10. Pick and pack firms – Another name for order fulfillment services as they “pick and pack” orders.
  11. 3PL companies – these firms usually offer storage and order processing services as well as full scale shipping services.

4. What Do Order Fulfillment Services Do?

Common order fulfillment functions include:

  • Order/shipment entry
  • Web-based customer order entry
  • Order acknowledgments print
  • Order allocation based on FIFO or specific product attributes
  • Pick validation processing
  • Shipping label print
  • Packing slip print
  • Commercial invoice print proof of delivery update
  • Shipment confirmation notification by email

Order fulfillment companies use the above features to offer the following services:

  • Receiving
  • Inventory management
  • E-Commerce integration
  • Cloud-based operations
  • Dashboards
  • Mobile app

Brightpearl’s order fulfillemnt dashboard

5. What To Consider When Hiring an Order Fulfillment Service?

Here are eight important factors to consider when searching for the best order fulfillment services:

  1. Size: The fulfillment entity should be able to scale to meet your growth during peak season. Plus, they should have the capacity and equipment to handle complex and large product kits if your company manufactures these items.
  2. Location: The order fulfillment partner should be located near your target market. This proximity offers advantages such as lower costs, faster shipping time, and reduced carbon footprint. The last benefit can be a big plus when serving green-conscious buyers.
  3. Percentage error: Find out the percentage error rate of various order fulfillment services and select the one with the least rate. Remember that even a 1% pick error rate means one in every 100 orders will end up in the wrong hands. These can mean hundreds of mis-delivered orders if the firm ships thousands of orders every day.
  4. Management: Talk to the managers of the fulfillment company about their organization’s work ethic and business philosophies. Check the key performance indicators they use and how they measure success. In short, the top management should be reputable and reliable.
  5. Costs: Some fulfillment companies use a sliding scale schedule, while others may charge you for each order or item they ship. Plus, you need to pay inventory storage costs at the fulfillment’s company’s warehouse. Get knowledge about all the storage and order processing costs, and select the best deal for your company.
  6. Shipping options: The order fulfillment company should offer a range of shipping options such as UPS, US Postal Service, and FedeX. Also, find out if the firm ships goods to major postal centers in the US.
  7. Turn-around time: Some firms ship all products received before a specific hour each day. If you miss this time, your goods would need to wait till the next shipment. So, learn about the provider’s turn-around policy and schedule your orders accordingly.
  8. Reputation: Select a company that has established a proven track record over the years. Ask for references and search online for feedback on their quality of service.

Finally, you should be able to easily communicate with the fulfillment company via phone, email, and website.

6. What are the Costs of Order Fulfillment Services?

Here are some sample pricing information for popular services. Keep in mind though that exact rates may vary and you should always ask for a custom quote for your company.

  1. ShipBob – Offers simple, affordable pricing for your unique needs. The service compares rates among top carriers like DHL, FedEX, UPS, and USPS, and negotiates volume discounts to find customers the best ground, 2-day, and expedited shipping options. You can distribute your inventory among ShipBob’s fulfillment centers for added cost savings and faster delivery times. Simple storage costs are based on SKU count, volume, and product size.
  2. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) – You need to pay for only the services you use. FBA’S flexible rate structure makes it easy for your company to be more competitive. Its competitive fees and shipping capabilities can help you reduce costs and offer valuable benefits such as free shipping. FBA fees are calculated during different times of the year. Services include storage of your inventory in Amazon fulfillment centers, picking and packing your orders, customer support, and product returns.
  3. Fulfillify – Offers pricing that scales with you. Helps you save money on fulfillment and shipping. This company charges $1.99 per order and $0.50 per item. Custom pricing is provided if your volume exceeds 6,000 orders per month. Other charges include $12.50 for per pallet stored in the warehouse and $12 for per SKU/pallet received per month. Shipping charges are $2.49 per order.
  4. VelocityShip – Charges $2 per order for 0-500 monthly orders, $1.80 per order for 501-100 monthly orders, and $1.50 per order for monthly subscription service. Storage fees are calculated at $0.45 per cubic foot per month, to a monthly minimum of $25. There is no fee for receiving or sorting any goods for storage in the company’s warehouses. All returns are calculated in the same way as outbound orders. You can leverage their volume shipping to negotiate the best rates with any of their carriers.

7. What are the Potential Issues with Order Fulfillment Service?

  1. Start on the correct note: You need to provide relevant and accurate product and stock information on your eCommerce website to help buyers make an educated decision. Integrate your online store with your product information management solution to maintain and show accurate info across all platforms.
  2. Streamline inventory management: Manage your inventory efficiently to be successful. Otherwise, you may face situations such as pending orders without stock, dead inventory, and rising fulfillment expenses due to poor planning of warehouse locations. Integrate your online store with your inventory management software to streamline your inventory management operations and display accurate inventory info on your eCommerce site.
  3. Select the right shipping providers: You need to partner with proven shipping providers to improve the customer experience and your business. If your customer receives an order late, they may never return again. Therefore, take time to learn about your products and customer requirements, evaluate various shipping providers and options, and select the best services to fit your business needs.
  4. Keep your customers updated: Customers expect to get updated information on their order and shipment status. This can be difficult as this info resides in your ERP solution, while customers search for updated details on the eCommerce software. Therefore, automate the process by integrating your ERP and eCommerce systems, and keep your customers informed though text messages, email, or other channels.

The following four trends are currently dominating the order fulfillment sector:

  1. Multichannel sales: Brands are utilizing multiple channels to sell their goods and they depend on fulfillment providers that use multichannel technology that enables integration with all CRM/ERP/eCommerce platforms and sales channels. Ideally, the fulfillment provider should also be EDI compliant.
  2. Product bundles: A lot of companies are bundling their products to sell slow-moving inventory and improve revenue. An experienced order fulfillment service can help such businesses to bundle multiple items into a single online order.
  3. Subscription box services: These services have become popular in the past few years. Brands are offering monthly subscription boxes for everything – from socks to makeup items. To make your brand stand above the competition, you need to select a fulfillment partner that offers a delightful experience for buyers every month. This will ensure your customers keep their subscriptions active and enjoy the products delivered to them.
  4. Personalization: Online product orders are becoming more personalized in terms of both the packaging as well as the door-delivery experience. Therefore, fulfillment providers are boosting their personalization capabilities to help their clients beat the competition and gain greater market share.
Category: B2B News

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