Chicago, and the entire Midwest region, has significant speed and cost advantages for ecommerce shipping and fulfillment. Not only is Chicago in a centralized location for access to the entire United States (and Canada), but it’s a bustling city with major airports and an attractive environment for companies. Furthermore, Chicago typically boasts lower costs than its Los Angeles and New York cousins on the coasts. Because of all these reasons, Chicago has become a hub for ecommerce fulfillment companies. In this article, we’ll explore how to choose a fulfillment center in Chicago, along with our favorite services.
Whether you look for a fulfillment center in Chicago or elsewhere, it really all depends on the location of your customers, and where you intend to ship most of your products. Luckily, Chicago generally stands as a middle ground for access to everywhere in the US, so you can’t go wrong. Not to mention, many ecommerce fulfillment services provide warehouses outside of Chicagoland (but still in Illinois or Northern Indiana), so you may be able to find some cheaper fulfillment prices.
If you’re interested in the great potential that Chicago holds for ecommerce fulfillment, keep reading to learn all about your options.
Best Fulfillment Centers in Chicago
This list talks about the top fulfillment centers throughout the city of Chicago, along with some options in Chicagoland (the suburbs and outer neighborhoods of Chicago). We’ll also mention a few fulfillment centers in surrounding Illinois towns.
The notable choices are ShipBob (headquartered in Chicago) and the Shopify Fulfillment Network (if you use the Shopify ecommerce platform).
Every service/company on this list has at least one fulfillment center in Chicago, or the surrounding area. But we also highlight their other warehouse locations, as a wider network makes for faster shipping overall. And there’s a good chance you have customers spread all over the US (and in other countries!)
Just remember that picking a fulfillment center in Chicago shouldn’t always be about price. That’s why we outline everything from delivery speed, order accuracy, and warehouse network capabilities. That way, you partner with a third-party logistics company (3PL) that’s built for scaling small businesses.
ShipBob has Chicago written all over it. Not only is its headquarters located in the heart of the city (West Loop), but it has three Chicagoland fulfillment centers, and two others in the nearby Midwest (Wisconsin and Kentucky). This gives you access to the entire Midwest and the southern part of Canada, especially since ShipBob is known for its rapid 1-2 day shipping methods.
As for the logistics service and software, ShipBob touts a beautiful inventory management tool, discounted shipping rates, and tracking for all shipments. You also gain access to free basic shipping materials, and partnerships with every major US shipping carrier, like USPS, UPS, and FedEx. Not only that, but ShipBob offers wonderful customer support, so you can reach out to the company for quality control and questions, through email, phone, or live chat.
Furthermore, ShipBob has the largest fulfillment network on this list, so you’re not limited to what’s in Chicago and the Midwest. In fact, international shipping is a specialty with ShipBob, and you can opt for one of the dozens of other shipping centers across the US or in other countries.
- Dozens of warehouses in Chicago, the US, Canada, and other countries
- 2-day shipping options
- Excellent carrier rates
- A wonderful onboarding process, along with top-notch customer support
- Powerful tracking with tracking codes that you can send to customers
- Multichannel fulfillment solutions, with integrations for Shopify, Bigcommerce, Squarespace, Walmart, Amazon, Target, and eBay
Besides the Chicago headquarters, here are the Chicagoland warehouse locations:
- Cicero, IL
- Woodridge, IL
- Yorkville, IL
And here are some other states with ShipBob centers:
- New Jersey
And don’t forget the international fulfillment centers:
- United Kingdom
ShipBob has a reputation for reasonable fulfillment costs, and you don’t have to think much about hidden fees or complicated pricing structures.
You still must contact ShipBob for a full quote, but their website outlines some of the base prices:
Here’s the base pricing by category:
- Receiving fees: $25 for the first two hours of receiving. After that, it’s $40 per man-hour.
- Storage: Costs vary based on several factors. Bins cost $5 per month. Pallets cost $40 per month. Shelves cost $10 per month.
- Picking and packing: Free. There’s a maximum of 4 picks for it to remain free. After that, it’s $0.20 per pick.
- Standard packing: Free for regular materials like boxes and tape. Custom inserts and boxes cost more.
- Shipping: Varies based on package size and weight, shipping methods, and the carrier.
The Shopify Fulfillment Network is an offering from the Shopify ecommerce platform. As you may assume, that means you must utilize Shopify as your website builder and ecommerce platform in order to access the fulfillment network. So, for those merchants with Shopify, we highly recommend looking into the network. Not only does Shopify have locations around the Chicagoland area, but it’s constantly expanding to meet demands in the Midwest and across the globe. In fact, Shopify acquired Deliverr to ensure it has more locations for merchants.
As a quick summary, the Shopify Fulfillment Network is Shopify’s version of a 3PL system. You receive tools for inventory management, invoicing, and fulfillment, and it’s all consolidated on the Shopify dashboard that we all know and love. In addition, Shopify uses artificial intelligence to establish the best warehouses to place inventory, keeping costs down for you and shipping speeds as fast as possible.
From two-day delivery to a smooth application process, you really can’t go wrong with Shopify Fulfillment.
- Supply chain, inventory, and warehouse management software included
- Automation and smart technology for warehouse selection and error reduction
- Return processing
- Fast shipping, such as 2-day delivery for much of Canada and most of the United States
- Easy receiving process, where all you have to do is send the products to Shopify
- Automated tracking numbers for you and the customers
- Inspections for all returns
- Simpler pricing than most other fulfillment networks
With its constantly expanding fulfillment network, Shopify offers centers in the Illinois area, and we should expect to see more in the future. Not to mention, the Midwest is covered pretty well by Shopify, so you may not even need to have an exact Chicago center.
Here are some other states with Shopify fulfillment centers:
- New Jersey
The base costs for Shopify Fulfillment become clearer after you apply for the program and provide information about your operation. What we do know, however, is that Shopify has simple pricing that increases or decreases depending on your sales volume and product storage requirements.
Here are some basic starting points for the Shopify Fulfillment Network pricing:
- Every type of business gets the same rate for 2-day shipping, regardless of sales volume or business size
- Storage is free for six months, and after that, you’re charged a rate of $2.25 per square foot
- There are no long-term contracts or commitments when signing up for the Shopify Fulfillment Program—you can back out whenever you want or choose to put your account on hold for whatever reason (all without penalties)
- Returns have a flat rate fee, and that rate includes everything from processing to inspections, and labels to transportation
- Individual fulfillment rates are calculated based on the weight of each product—so, it’s more expensive to send heavier items
- Multi-unit orders receive discounts, giving you an incentive to cross-sell and upsell for every order
- There’s no startup or transition fee to begin working with the Shopify Fulfillment centers
Rakuten Super Logistics has a nationwide fulfillment strategy, but one of its primary hubs is in Chicago, IL. This allows merchants to maximize the transit opportunities to places throughout the Midwest, while also saving on shipping costs. Not to mention, you’re able to opt for the many other order fulfillment centers around the US to ensure you reach places like the east coast, west coast, and the southern states.
As a service, Rakuten Super Logistics touts one of the longest list of integration partners, including Shopify, Amazon, eBay, and WooCommerce. You can also use DHL, UPS, USPS, or FedEx, since Rakuten Super Logistics partners with all of them for the most efficient routes and steepest discounts. In addition, Rakuten Super Logistics has a picking accuracy rate of close to 100%, so you don’t have to worry as much about unhappy customers or returns. Other than that, online store owners receive 1-2 day ground delivery options, wonderful fulfillment software, and extras like smart freight and smart filling.
- There’s a fulfillment center in Chicago, Illinois, along with three near New York, one in Georgia, two in Texas, and many others scattered throughout the west coast
- The Chicago warehouse specializes in B2B fulfillment, but offers other options as well
- You can choose to use the specialty Xparcel shipping service, which is handy for smaller packages, since you get lower shipping costs and faster speeds
- Order protection with every delivery you send
- 2-day shipping for many orders
- Integrations with platforms like Bigcommerce, Shopify, and WooCommerce
- A beautiful dashboard interface for inventory and warehouse management
- Picking, returns, and packing are all included
- There’s a kitting service for bundling items
- All returns get processed through Rakuten Super Logistics, and customers send items back to their warehouses
- Support for subscription box fulfillment
- Speciality fulfillment services like custom projects and climate control
As mentioned, the Chicago, IL hub works well for B2B fulfillment needs, but you can use it for other things like B2C, kitting, subscription boxes, and climate controlled storage.
Other locations include:
- New York
- New Jersey
There’s minimal information about pricing on the Rakuten Super Logistics website. You can, however, request a free quote directly from the site. This tells us that every merchant will receive its own pricing based on things like shipping weight and volume.
However, our research shows that Rakuten Super Logistics has similar pricing to ShipBob (with base fees for certain parts of the fulfillment process). Special projects—like kitting, subscriptions, and custom boxes—have their own extra fees.
With a fulfillment center in Chicago, the Flowspace fulfillment company is a wise choice for brands interested in direct-to-customer, B2B, or Amazon fulfillment. The service offers an intuitive platform for integrating with your online store, along with flexible fulfillment options to satisfy your small business or growing business needs.
Flowspace provides 2-day shipping to many locations throughout the Midwest, and it has international shipping services, especially to Canada. In Chicago, some of the offerings include pricing per pallet, ecommerce fulfillment, cold storage, and even food-grade warehouses. Flowspace is considered an on-demand warehousing and fulfillment service, so there are no long-term commitments or requirements to sign contracts. You can get set up quickly, and stop using their services whenever you want, all without an extra fee.
- Two locations near Chicago, including one in the Chicago Metro area, and several others in suburbs like Rolling Meadows and Des Plaines
- They outsource warehouses elsewhere in the city, adding up to over 10 million square feet of storage space
- There are no longterm contracts to worry about
- You can opt for very specific storage types, such as HAZMAT and cold storage facilities, or even cattle yards
- These fulfillment experts utilize every type of transportation to ensure fast delivery—even transportation methods like freight, rail, cars, trucks, and air
- There are month-to-month payment plans to consider
- Unique storage options like food-grade, organic, frozen, ambient, and cool storage
- Support for Amazon prepping and fulfillment
- Support for direct-to-customer and B2B shipping
- Technology for ecommerce order, inventory, and network management, along with real-time visibility of the entire logistics process
- Support for ecommerce, marketplace, and retail fulfillment, all through a large fulfillment network
- Integrations with platforms and marketplaces like Amazon, 3dcart, Bigcommerce, Etsy, Ecwid, Magento, Rakuten, Overstock, Shopify, Volusion, and Squarespace
As mentioned briefly, Flowspace manages several warehouses and fulfillment centers in the Chicagoland area. Some are in the city and metro area, while others are located in the suburbs and outskirts, like Aurora, Batavia, Bartlett, Bensenville, Bolingbrook, Naperville, Carol Stream, and Bloomingdale. Really, Flowspace offers the largest collection of fulfillment warehouses in Chicago.
As for its other locations, you can find Flowspace warehouses all over the United States. There’s a long list of them, but here’s a sample:
- New York
- North Dakota
- North Carolina
In fact, almost every state is covered by the Flowspace fulfillment network. Some of these warehouses are managed by Flowspace, but others are outsourced as partners to the network. We recommend looking into every location you intend to use to ensure they offer the right type of fulfillment and storage for your business.
All merchants must contact the Flowspace sales team to receive a demo and custom quote. However, we do know some specifics about the Flowspace pricing and fees:
- It’s a cost-efficient option with flexible network configurations
- You get everything from the integration to the software for free with your subscription
- Special fulfillment options and projects (like kitting, cart picking, FDA certified, cold storage, and item labeling) may have extra fees
- Pricing is per pallet, making for a simple way to calculate costs
- Month-to-month billing is available, allowing you to sign up whenever you want and back out if necessary
- It’s an on-demand fulfillment service, so there are no contracts or commitments
Choosing the Right Fulfillment Center in Chicago
From ShipBob to Shopify Fulfillment, and Rakuten Super Logistics to Flowspace, the best fulfillment center in Chicago is the one that offers you options for what you need as an ecommerce business. All of these services provide excellent inventory and warehouse management software, along with centralized locations and efficient facilities in Chicago (or the Chicagoland area). So, it’s more about checking into the pricing, getting a demo from each one, and seeing which specific services are offered at every facility.
We also recommend asking about shipping discounts, integrations with ecommerce platforms, and the types of speciality storage and shipping available (like for kitting, subscriptions, cold storage, and more).
We’ve made this list from hundreds of other options, so hopefully that helps you in making a decision. If you still have questions, here are our final recommendations:
- ShipBob: We like ShipBob for its Chicago locations, large network of warehouses around the US, and especially the fact that you get access to fulfillment centers in several other countries. It’s an extremely affordable fulfillment option, and it makes the most sense if you’re interested in international shipping. You also get powerful software, a simple onboarding process, and excellent shipping discounts with all of the major partners.
- Shopify Fulfillment Network: We generally recommend the Shopify Network if you’re already using Shopify as your ecommerce platform (or if your business plans on making the shift to Shopify). It’s a constantly growing network of warehouses, and they provide one of the simplest interfaces and processes for running your fulfillment operation. All of your fulfillment and sales get consolidated into one dashboard, and many of the warehouse management decisions get made for you, using smart technology and artificial intelligence. It doesn’t have the highest concentration of warehouses in Chicago, but it still offers a solid presence in the Midwest.
- Rakuten Super Logistics: Consider Rakuten if you want a centralized location in Chicago, alongside access to its entire US network of warehouses. We particularly like the Chicago location for B2B fulfillment. Other than that, we recommend Rakuten if you’re keen on getting order protection on every item sent out. It’s a wonderful service with solid tech, a nice combination of specialty fulfillment offerings, and rapid shipping that’s more accurate than many of its competitors. And you’re given options to choose specific storage methods like cold storage.
- Flowspace: This fulfillment service has the largest collection of fulfillment centers in Chicago, the Chicago area, and pretty much the entire US. The pricing is reasonable, and we enjoy it for more unique projects, like if you require cold storage, subscriptions, or even HAZMAT. Flowspace is also one of the best choices for shorter term commitments. They offer month-to-month pricing plans, and it’s considered more of an on-demand fulfillment provider.
There you have it! We hope this guide helps you find the best possible fulfillment center in Chicago for your business. Please let us know in the comments if you have any questions about the fulfillment centers, and share your thoughts if you’ve worked with any of them in the past.