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Process 8x more shipments per day with a 3PL
3PLs can reduce shipping costs by as much as 25%
3PLs process orders quickly, resulting in faster delivery times
Using 3PLs can improve customer service by 32%
Storing your merchandise, packing, and shipping orders on your own can be manageable when you're first starting out.
But maybe you've been doing online selling for some time, and your orders are starting to pick up.
Or, you've run a successful crowdfunding campaign and thousands of backers are expecting to receive your product.
Maybe other aspects of your business require more focus, and physically managing orders isn't one of them.
At this point, you'll have to make a choice.
You can either:
This guide will go over definitions, the fundamentals of warehousing and fulfillment, pros and cons, what to look out for, and best practices. After reading it, you'll be able to confidently decide if it's the right time to outsource your fulfillment, and if so, how to outsource your fulfillment in the best way possible.See the full list of definitions
Fulfillment is the process of receiving, storing, packaging, and shipping out your products to customers.
The three most popular fulfillment processes in eCommerce are:
Merchant fulfillment: As a store owner, you or your employees are responsible for stocking, taking orders, invoicing, storing, and shipping your products.
Dropshipping: Work directly with a supplier to distribute the supplier's product. You sell to and accept orders from customers, while the supplier is responsible for stock, packaging, and shipping to the customer.
Third-party fulfillment: Also known as 3PL (third-party logistics), an order fulfillment company will be responsible for storing your goods, processing your incoming orders (pick & pack), and shipping them on your behalf.
Whether you're crowdfunding or your online store is growing, here's what you should consider when you're looking to work with a 3PL.
Location: The warehouse's location can impact tax & duty for your business. Is the warehouse in close proximity to your target market?
Services: What are their Service Level Agreements (SLA) on receiving, fulfillment, and returns disposition? What kind of shipping solutions do they offer, and how many? What is their packing service like? Can they handle bulk shipments? Do they offer value-added services beyond standard warehouse activities?
Technology: Is their warehouse management system up to date? How automated and efficient are they in fulfilling orders?
Every week we publish new insights and tips on shipping & fulfillment. Be the first to know.
Global fulfillment is when you store your products in an overseas warehouse, making it easier to reach your international customers. This method can cut costs in a variety of ways:
Here are more reasons why you should consider global fulfillment.
Easyship also gives you access to a network of global warehouses.
Warehouses are spaces where you can store products you are selling until they are ready to be sent to your customer.
You can expect major operational differences between warehouses depending on what kind of businesses they cater to.
B2B: (Business to Business) These warehouses specialize in handling recurring, bulky orders.
B2C: (Business to Consumer) These warehouses specialize in handling a large number of orders at a time. Orders are usually smaller in size and weight compared to B2B orders.
Bonded: These are secured warehouses where VAT and duties are deferred until they leave the warehouse.
Omni-Channel: These warehouses offer fulfillment solutions for B2B, B2C, and Big-Box retailers with stringent compliance requirements.Learn more about B2B and B2C warehouses
Warehouses offer many services to ensure your storage and fulfillment needs are met. Here are some common order fulfillment costs you may come across when getting a quote:
Account onboarding: Fees associated with setting up a new customer.
Inbound handling: Fees for any service related to delivering your goods to the warehouse.
Storage: These can be charged based on different areas (such as floor-stored, bulk rack locations, pick locations, etc.) and the types of storage, such as temperature controlled or dangerous goods regulation (DGR).
Pick and Pack: Fees associated with picking an item and packing it for shipping. This fee can be charged per unit, carton, or pallet.
Depending on your needs, you can also request value-added services such as:
Barcode labelling: Attaching barcode labels to all of your items.
Engraving: Some warehouses can engrave items for a personal touch.
Gift wrapping: Have items gift wrapped for special occasions.
Kitting: Process in which individually separate but related items are grouped, packaged, and supplied together as one unit.
Printing: Invoices can be printed for you.
Refurbishment: Checking returned items and bringing them back to sellable condition.
Retail compliance: Process of generating UCC-128 labels, transacting activity in a retailer's portals, and all other activities needed to conform with a retailer's requirements to avoid chargebacks.
Temperature controlled storage
For a more in-depth list of fees you can expect from a warehouse, check out our blog post understanding warehouse quotes.
We highly recommend taking the time to visit warehouses you are interested in before you make a final decision. This is your opportunity to assess the quality of the warehouse and to ask questions to ensure your business standards are met.
Print this checklist and bring it with you on your visit, so you can come prepared and ask the right questions.Here are 10 mistakes you should avoid with warehouses
We believe simple pricing is the best pricing. Get a quote with a simplified pricing structure and no hidden fees.Contact Us
Easyship works with multiple warehouses around the world so you can fulfill orders anywhere! Learn more about our partners:
Need another reason to consider using a 3PL? How about not having to lift a finger to fulfill your orders?
At Easyship, we've found a way to completely automate your warehousing and shipping needs. Here's how it works:
We provide the necessary tools needed to keep you on budget for shipping and to safely deliver your product to backers around the world.Learn More
If you're having doubts about your current fulfillment partner, perhaps it's time to consider a switch. Think about the following:
You should also take into account the additional costs needed to move your inventory elsewhere, in addition to how your downtime will affect your sales opportunities.What else to consider when switching warehouses.
All the fulfillment terminology you need to know to ship like a boss!
Ambient: Basic storage that doesn't require air conditioning.
Bin: This is the smallest available unit of space in a warehouse.
Bonded: Secured storage where VAT and duty taxes are deferred until they leave the warehouse
Bundling: This is similar to kitting but simplified - for example, adding gift cards is not needed.
Author's Note: This blog post is not meant to be a static piece, but rather a piece that will be updated regularly as fulfillment changes from time to time! For any comments or suggestions, please email us at [email protected].