Dropshipping is one of the easiest ways to take your ecommerce business to the next level. You can “stock” a wide selection of amazing products for your customers to choose from, without having to worry about the headaches of things like storing and shipping items. Additionally, unlike selling on Amazon and eBay, you can choose to deliver your products from your own branded website.
The question is, where do you get started? How do you choose the fulfillment option that’s actually right for you, and where can you find the differences between some of the biggest contenders?
The choices are plentiful, but if you choose the wrong one you may end up with some hefty charges and angry customers. After all, you're putting the logistics of your company in the hands of a third party company. It better be a good one.
Ecommerce Fulfillment Services: Table of contents
Let's start with the basics:
What is Ecommerce Fulfillment?
On the surface, ecommerce order fulfillment is defined as the steps taken for receiving, processing and delivering orders to customers. Therefore, a fulfillment company is going to be that third party company that you hire to complete all of these steps.
Some ecommerce fulfillment companies offer more than others, but the general idea is that you don't have to store an item at all, you don't have to ship it out to the customer and the order and return processing is all done without you having to think about it at all.
Order fulfillment at its core can technically be done out of your own garage, basement or warehouse. It's when you outsource your order fulfillment when it becomes much closer to that of dropshipping.
How is Ecommerce Fulfillment Different from Dropshipping?
Technically, outsourced fulfillment and dropshipping are the same thing. The company that's completing the dropshipping or fulfillment for you is storing, handling and shipping all of your products. Most of them even take in returns without you having to lift a finger.
However, dropshipping generally takes one initial step out of the equation. When companies dropship they generally contact a manufacturer that is already making the products they would like to sell. Therefore, all the retailer has to do is put a product page on their website then communicate to the dropshipper when an item is sold.
This means that a company that makes proprietary, or unique, products doesn't have a chance to dropship. All of those items need to be built by a separate manufacturer or in-house. Therefore, you could say that fulfillment is different in the fact that your items have to be shipped to the fulfillment company at some point for them to store, while dropshipping often has a situation where the products are already in the possession of the manufacturer or dropshipper.
What Are Some of the Top International Ecommerce Fulfillment Companies?
ShipBob - Best Overall Fulfillment Service
ShipBob works great with Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, SquareSpace, and Magento stores. It also provides shipping services for crowdfunding organizations. ShipBob offers fulfillment centers in major cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and Brooklyn. This way, you can split your inventory to the location closest to your customers in order to speed up deliveries and lower costs.
If you’re looking for something that can save you a lot of time on things like warehousing and order fulfillment, then this could be the ideal tool for you. Everything you need comes built into the back-end, for inventory management, to supply chain control.
You’ll love how easy it is to use this service. The easier it is for you to make the most out of your ecommerce platform, the more customer satisfaction you can unlock. You can even check for potential same day shipping in certain areas.
ShipBob is an excellent choice if you’re searching for a solution that is simple and easy to use. From order management to return management, ShipBob has it all. Plus, you don’t have to worry about any pick and pack fees. Flat-rate fees make managing your expenses easy. Plus, ShipBob is ideal for shipping bulk orders too.
ShipBob Main Features
- Leading eCommerce integrations
- Distributed inventory management
- Network of fulfilment centers to choose from
- Same day or two-day shipping
- Order management
- Return management
- Wholesale and B2B orders
- Product warehousing
- Warehouse kitting
- Reporting and analytics
The service is a little more expensive than some of the others that we’ve covered so far, as it’s $5 per month for storage of your items. There’s also package shipping fees to consider.
- Wide range of excellent features
- Very easy to use
- Complete control of your online business
- No need to store your own products
- Pricey in some areas
Best for: ShipBob is ideal for a company in search of a straightforward solution for ecommerce fulfillment. You only pay for storing your inventory and getting it sent to customers.
Plus, you get a flat rate per delivery. Bath fulfilment is a lot cheaper this way too, so if you sell a lot of products at once, ShipBob could be a great option. Advanced analytics and reporting is helpful for companies looking to grow fast too. You can make intelligent business decisions with in-depth reports on your orders.
Check out our ShipBob review.
Fulfillment.com is a simple easy-to-use cloud-based solution that has been automating repetitive tasks and streamlining order fulfillment for over 7 years now, which essentially translates to about 16 million packages.
Hence, the company has managed to perfect the art and it now runs 7 international warehouse locations, from where it delivers orders to more than 150 countries across the globe. 3 of the warehouses are in the US while others are based in Melbourne Australia, Mexico City in Mexico, Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and Mississauga in Canada. Every single package received in any of these warehouses is processed in less than 24 hours.
And while its agents handle processing, packaging, and delivery, you get to take advantage of Fulfillment.com’s online dashboard to manage the entire process. It’s pretty efficient when it comes to tracking your order fulfillment parameters, establishing the amount of time left before stock depletion, determining the appropriate dates to place new product orders, verifying shipment delivery addresses, grouping orders, reviewing your package postage fees, comparing shipping carriers, etc.
Customer service is also a huge plus here, as Fulfillment.com will assign you a dedicated customer support agent (or success manager) to help you with everything.
Overall, Fulfillment.com is worth considering if you’re interested in enterprise-level warehouse management, shipping carrier optimization and order grouping to minimize costs, backorder management, inventory tracking, as well as integrations with all the major ecommerce and dropshipping platforms.
Ideal for those who want full control over their logistics process, Fulfillment.com gives you access to everything from inventory tracking to address verification and more. There’s automatic order grouping available, multi-channel customer support, and the option to get multi-channel customer support through email, phone, and social media too.
Fulfillment.com Main Features
- Worldwide fulfillment options
- 2-day delivery for happier customers
- Exciting and intuitive shipping software
- Multi-channel customer support
- Product manufacturing options
- Logistics and inventory tracking
- Access to various carrier options
- Special services for crowd-funded projects
- Warehouse security
- Physical security
Starts at $10 per month for the basic features. You may need to upgrade to something more advanced if you want to run a more comprehensive business.
- Excellent customer service
- Great for managing your back-end
- Fantastic for enterprise-level warehouse management
- Plenty of advanced tools
- Can be complicated for beginners
- Might not be best for small businesses
Best for: Fulfilment.com combines all the power of automation software with the reliability of well-optimized fulfillment facilities. The end result is an experience that saves you time and headaches when it comes to shipping products to your customers. This service is excellent for anyone who wants to grow or build an internet selling solution.
Check out our detailed Fulfillment.com review.
ShipStation is known for working well with Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento customers, and it has some wonderful packages that start at $25 per month. The shopping cart integration is one of the best parts of the ShipStation interface, while orders and shipping are all automated on the backend. What's more is that ShipStation gives you the freedom to add your own branding to all the packaging and anything that goes in the packaging, strengthening the effectiveness of your company in the long run.
ShipStation has basically everything you need to run an ecommerce business with ease. There’s automatic order retrieval, a real-time calculator for shipping costs, and even customizable tracking information. You can even integrate your solution with various tools for things like third-party logistics and reporting tools.
In terms of feature richness and value for money, this is a solution that really does have it all. It could be the best addition to your eCommerce platform.
ShipStation is an extremely popular choice when it comes to order fulfilment. If you’re looking to make the most of eCommerce fulfilment, and you don’t want to worry about things like making your own carrier labels from scratch, ShipStation has you covered. This service comes with options to integrate all of your carrier accounts and selling channels.
ShipStation Main Features
- Delivery management tools
- Browse rates with pre-negotiated carrier options
- Ship faster with packing slip scanning
- Print your own labels
- Generate documents
- Update customers
- Eliminate errors easily
- Take time off your shipping projects
Packages start at around $25 per month. That means that it might not be the cheapest solution for ecommerce fulfillment, but it’s value is still through the roof.
- Calculate shipping rates in real-time
- Tons of advanced features
- Integrates with third-party tools
- Works with your favorite ecommerce builder
- No phone calls for customer service
Best for: ShipStation is ideal when you want to quickly generate professional experiences for your audience. With this service, you can find the ideal rate, print an appropriate label, batch orders for multi-label creation, and more. Additionally, with just a few clicks, you can spend more of your time working on your business, and less time shipping. There’s even support for integrations with leading marketplaces too.
For more info about this service check out our detailed ShipStation review.
If you want to use Shopify for all of your fulfillment needs, then you’re in luck. The Shopify Fulfillment network is a worldwide network of environments intended to support intelligent forecasting and inventory allocation. This network ensures that orders are delivered to your customers as quickly and accurately as possible.
Aside from offering excellent support from leaders like FedEx, Shopify also supports customers by minimizing storage fees and using intelligent technology. Machine learning ensures that you have access to demand forecasting statistics which predict where you need to be prepared for more orders as quickly as possible.
The inventory allocation technology also helps you to predict which fulfillment centers and inventory solutions are best for supporting your clients as quickly as possible. The result is a fast and low-cost experience with delivery. Plus, you can even get items to your audience in two days. This boosts your chances of having happier customers.
Using the Fulfillment network from Shopify, you can increase your profits and customer loyalty as quickly and effectively as possible. Plus, you don’t need to think about things like packing, picking, or shipping. You’ll always be aware when you need to replenish your inventory, so you can continue keeping your business ahead of the purchasing curve.
Shopify Fulfillment Main Features
- Machine learning
- Predictive reports for orders
- Partnerships with leading shipping brands
- Global partners
- Excellent two-day delivery option
- Support for return and exchanges
- Custom branding and packaging
- Multiple channels for selling
- Very accurate shipping strategy
- Great for building long-lasting customer relationships
Shopify Fulfillment Pricing
Pricing from Shopify Fulfillment is offered on a by-business basis. After the team has learned everything they need to know about your company, they’ll give you a quote to support the unique needs of your enterprise. Every plan comes with access to logistics experts to ensure that you’re getting the right solution to improve your bottom line.
- Excellent for Shopify users
- Sync all your inventory info
- Predictive strategies with machine learning
- Reduced shipping costs
- Reduced operating expenses
- Buy your own shipping labels
- Advanced features can be expensive
- Limited control over third-party providers
- A bit of a learning curve to get used to
- Still quite new, so not as proven as other tools
Best for: The Shopify Fulfillment network can easily appeal to anyone and everyone. However, it’s going to be the best choice for those who already operate with Shopify and want to improve their bottom line. Shopify as an order fulfillment company will give you everything you need to simplify order processing and shipping. With a vast network of fulfillment centers, you’ll have no problem improving customer experience.
For more info about this service check out our detailed Shopify Fulfillment review.
Red Stag Fulfillment won an award for Best Fulfillment Service in 2016. It's a well-run operation that picks, packages and ships your products. You'll also notice that storage and returns are done through Red Stag Fulfillment. This company has become so popular because it promises (and delivers!) speed and reliability, so you don't have to worry about your customers getting mad. The best part is that you don't have to pay for any long term contracts, setup fees, hidden fees, account management fees or SKU management fees.
Red Stag works best with retailers that need to ship heavier and bulkier packages through multiple sales channels. Because of that, you need to actually contact the team if you want to figure out how much the fulfillment cost is going to be. On the plus side, there is a month of free trial support available, so you can test out how well the system will work for you first.
One of the best things about using Red Stag for your fulfillment strategy, is the fact that the management system is so easy to use. Figuring out how to keep track of your shipping orders and inventory is a piece of cake. Plus, the software integrates with a range of ecommerce solutions too.
Red Stag fulfilment is one of the more reliable tools on the market for fulfilment. The company has a 100% guarantee when it comes to things like inventory accuracy, receiving orders, and handling order shipment speed too. Fees are available on refunds for orders and shipments that aren’t up to standard, so you know that you and your brand are safe.
Red Stag Fulfilment Main Features
- No set-up fees and a 30-day trial
- Service guarantees for peace of mind
- Excellent support for American consumers
- Transparent service
- Ecommerce integrations
- Fast and affordable shipping
- 2-day product fulfilment network
- Easy and reliable back-end management
Red Stag Fulfillment Pricing
Business owners can only get pricing by contacting the team and finding out more based on their specific needs. Usually, your price will be based on things like custom packaging prices, inventory levels, and fulfillment operations.
- Great choice for companies with a lot of order volume
- Ideal fulfillment solution if you have bulky products
- Easy to use interface
- A range of automated features to tap into
- Complicated pricing structure
Best for: If you’re looking for something that’s going to give you peace of mind with a reliable fulfilment network, then this is the tool for you. Designed to fill all kinds of fulfilment needs, Red Stag ensures that you’re protected no matter what happens. Since building your own company and shipping to customers can be a little daunting at first, it’s nice to have the peace of mind that this company provides.
ShopMonk‘s custom API integrations allow users to sync new shopping orders automatically into their software. The products are then shipped without delay. They promise a scalable solution and promise the same type of service for every single order. They also offer some unique services like crowdfunding fulfillment and Amazon FBA Prep services. They have a coveted customer service section that boasts 24*7 availability and 1-1 service, and they promise super fast delivery without delays.
Shipmonk stands out as a convenient and reliable multi-channel e-commerce fulfillment service and inventory management solution. It gives you everything you need to adhere to your customer expectations when it comes to things like a wide selection of products and fast shipping. Because the company picks and packs your orders for you, the whole experience is easy and totally customizable.
You can even decide how fast you want your fulfillment provider to send your items to your customers, from amazon prime style shipping to two-day delivery from your ecommerce store.Most importantly, the pricing is affordable for virtually every kind of business.
ShipMonk is another of the leading tools for fulfilment that can make life easier for today’s business leaders. This company has a powerful impact in the marketplace because of it’s transparent shipping process. Plus, the warehouse management options means that you have more access to the way that you serve your customers.
ShipMonk Main Features
- Easy back-end store management
- Best-in-class support
- Support to help you save on shipping
- Massive shipping discounts
- Lots of customization options
- Transparent shipping process
- Free integrations
- Multiple warehouse options
- User permissions
- Freight management
Best for: ShipMonk delivers an ultra-scalable solution that’s ideal for any size of business. You can even get involved as an enterprise because the security is so significant. The company takes the privacy of the customer’s data very seriously, so they also take all the necessary measures required to protect privacy and data. Plus, there are actionable reports and insights to help you grow your business too.
There’s no free trial with ShipMonk, but the pricing starts at $1 per month depending on how much you need.
- Excellent range of shipping options
- Good fulfillment cost for some companies
- Wide range of services for ecommerce companies
- Good checkout experience
- Bit of a learning curve
Check out our detailed ShipMonk review.
The James and James ecommerce fulfillment company is ideal for businesses located in the UK. International shipping is certainly available, but it seems to have some strong benefits for those in the UK. The same day dispatch and packing accuracy is the kind of stuff that all online stores like to see, while the storage of your items is performed in a way that nothing gets damaged and all of your boxes go out to the right customers.
James and James has delivered a reliable order fulfillment process to various top brands, including those like cards against humanity. The company is committed to helping businesses to grow their sales with a reliable inventory storage system, and the ability to ship orders quickly.
You can even implement tracking into your fulfillment solution so that your customers never need to worry about where their products are. It’s a great choice for those in search of reliable pallet storage and fantastic customer service.
We like James and James for the simple approach that it offers today’s business owners. You can access a global shipping environment that’s not complicated or overwhelming for beginners. Plus, the powerful back-end of this shipping fulfilment solution means that you get the comfort of knowing that your fulfillment services can grow with you.
James and James Main Features
- Tons of marketing insights
- Customer support
- Trackable order fulfilment
- Optimized back-end
- Access to insights on couriers and inventory
- Cloud-based fulfilment portal
- Reliable solution for confident growth
- Excellent reliability
James and James Pricing
You can only check the costs by emailing the team for a tailored price. This means that the cost will depend on what you want to do with your ecommerce business.
- Lots of advanced features for satisfied customers
- Reliable and easy to use software
- Fantastic brand with lots of high-level clients
- Reliable performance
- May be too much for beginners
Best for: James and James order fulfilment gives companies the freedom to simplify every aspect of their order fulfilment strategy. You can delight your customers every time without having to worry about damaged parcels and late deliveries. If you want to build a business that’s all about excellent customer service, then this is the company for you. The service even gives you insights and reports to help you improve your customer service strategies.
Rakuten Super Logistics is one of the more popular solutions you can choose from, and they have strategically placed fulfillment centers located all over the world. We like the idea of the SmartFill feature, which is a cloud-based platform for keeping track of your fulfillment process, anywhere in the world and at any time. They also have a SmartStock solution for keeping items on the shelves at all times and getting people their products when they need them.
Yet another company that only delivers pricing when you contact the team for a specified quote, the Rakuten Super Logistics team can be a little costly for bigger brands. However, it’s a great option for people who want to ship a wide selection of inventory choices. You can even send products overseas with a limited shelf life.
One of the features that really makes this product stand out, is the fact that it integrates well with a range of other software solutions, ranging from PayPal to BigCommerce and Amazon. That means that you can support your business through a host of great sales channels.
Rakuten Super Logistics is an excellent tool for those who have a passion for more in-depth and technical fulfilment services. There’s a lot of technology tools to explore here, including ecommerce fulfilment service tools, which include shipping organizing services, and smart tools for order and inventory tracking. The company also guarantees accuracy on all orders, which is a nice touch.
Rakuten Super Logistics Main Features:
- Smartship Organizer for optimizing costs
- Smart fill order fulfilment
- Inventory tracking
- Freight support for inbound shipment
- Smartstock inventory processing
- Excellent customer support
- 100% guaranteed accuracy on shipment
- 1-day order fulfilment
Rakuten Super Logistics Pricing
You can only get a price by contacting the team for a personalized quote. The price will depend on your order volume and the size of your business, among other things.
- Reliable and feature-rich technology
- Excellent performance
- Great for complex deliveries
- Works well with a range of third-party tools
- Pricing can be high depending on your company
- Bit of an old-fashioned interface.
Best for: Rakuten Super Logistics is an excellent service for those who want to get behind the scenes of their logistics strategy with more advanced analytics and services. The 100% accuracy means that you can provide the kind of excellent customer service that your audience expects. Additionally, there’s a 1-day order fulfilment option too.
Consider Shippo if you're looking for yet another international order fulfillment service with quality service. The API is open for you to integrate with your store upon signing up, and they have an interesting pricing model that takes the price of shipping plus five cents. The shipping tracking lets you understand where all your packages are located, while the intuitive dashboard allows you to connect with your data from anywhere you want. You have the option to add insurance to your shipping, and the deep discounts are nice for saving money on USPS labels. Along with address verification, return labels and international parcels, you can't go wrong with Shippo.
Probably one of the most popular multi-carrier shipping solutions on the market, Shippo is very user friendly and easy to use. You can purchase shipping from a range of companies in the same place, and get discount rates in some cases too.
As an API platform, Shippo is a very different service to most of the order fulfilment options available today. However, it could be just the thing for you if you’re looking for an easy way to connect to various carrier companies. You can benefit from carriers that have the freedom tos hip orders quickly and effortlessly, with minimal costs. Through Shippo, businesses get a reliable shipping API that really supports them in getting things done.
Shippo Main Features
- Guaranteed 99.9% uptime SLA
- Complete maintenance for documents
- Libraries in a range of popular language
- Only pay for shipping
- White-label or branded performance
- Carrier account agnostic
- Order sync from dashboard
- International support
There’s a free version, and a solution that starts with $0.05 as a one-time payment. The pricing goes up depending on the fulfillment operations you need.
- Very easy to use and intuitive
- Fantastic pricing
- Range of shipping rates to choose from
- Excellent customer service
- Can come with a learning curve
- No mobile app
Best for: If you’re looking for a really flexible multi-carrier fulfilment option, this is probably the right choice for you. Having access to your own API solution means that you have more freedom to work with. vBest for: If you’re looking for a really flexible multi-carrier fulfilment option, this is probably the right choice for you. Having access to your own API solution means that you have more freedom to work with. v
Over to You…
Now that you've had a chance to understand the differences between ecommerce order fulfillment and dropshipping, along with some of the best ecommerce fulfillment services in the world, feel free to give one of them a call to see what else they can offer you. I'm sure you'll be pleased with each of the five we recommended above.
Hopefully you’ve found the perfect fulfillment partner for your needs.
If you have any more questions about order fulfillment, feel free to drop a line in the comments section below.
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