3rd Party Fulfillment for Online Merchants: Comparison of Leading 3PLs
Are you interested in working with a 3rd Party Logistics provider ("3PL") to assist with your multichannel fulfillment?
Our most successful merchants actively simplify their operations. They tend to focus all of their efforts and resources on product merchandising, listing, branding and customer service. Accordingly, many high volume merchants outsource their fulfillment. This allows them to avoid the operational distraction and considerable overhead associated with warehouse costs, carrier negotiations, packing materials and labor.
As we continue to build out an ecosystem of high value sales channels and ecommerce service providers, we aim to educate merchants on the available 3PL integrations we offer as well as other ways that our merchants enlist the support of 3rd party fulfillment partners.
Here's an overview of the 3PLs that are deeply integrated into Zentail and how they compare:
|Service Provider||Reserve Inventory (via API)||Pricing (via API)||Inbound Shipment (via API)||Monthly Order Minimum||FBA Inbound Service||Guaranteed, 2-Day Delivery||Returns Management||Kitting, Bundling||Custom Packing Slips||Orders per SKU||Service Fees||Pricing|
|FedEx Fulfillment||Yes||Yes||No||600||Yes, small parcel||No||Yes (not via API)||Yes||Yes||6:1||Storage, Picking, Packing||$|
|Rakuten Super Logistics||No||Yes||Yes||250||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||4:1||Receiving, Storage, Picking, Packing||$|
|ShipBob||No||Yes||Yes||0||Yes||Merchant's Webstore||Yes||Yes||Yes||2:1||Receiving, Storage||$$ Calculator|
|Shipwire||No||Yes||Yes||250||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Receiving, Storage, Picking, Packing||$|
Reserving Inventory (via API)
A crucial defense against backorders and overselling, this programmatic capability allows Zentail to tell the 3PL to reserve inventory for orders that are pending payment. Once the status changes upon payment confirmation from the channel, Zentail allows the 3PL to fulfill the order.
Can the 3PL tell us how much a specific order costs to ship? It's important to know exactly how much each order costs to ship. This allows you to track your profitability accurately in Zentail and adjust pricing on SKUs where necessary.
Inbound Shipments API
At Zentail, we want merchants to be able to manage everything centrally. Can the user generate inbound (bulk) replenishment shipments to the 3PL directly in Zentail? This does not mean Zentail currently supports inbound shipments within the Zentail interface for the 3PL.
A major concern of smaller merchants and those that are primarily selling on Amazon with FBA is the ability to meet minimum monthly order requirements. Many 3PLs want to work with merchants with high order volumes, and some are more willing to take on smaller merchants that have potential for growth.
Does the 3PL offer the service of labeling and shipping bulk quantities to FBA? In our opinion, this service is critical to freeing up your resources as a seller and simplifying your supply chain.
Does the 3PL allow you to modify your packing slips and packaging appearance based on channel? Compliance with packaging requirements of each major marketplace channel is extremely important. You may also want to have fancier branding and packaging presentation for orders shipping to your own website.
Warehousing, Receiving, Picking and Packing Fees
Does the 3PL charge only on a per sales order basis or are there additional line items you will need to consider. Most 3PLs charge for storage, and it is not uncommon to be charged for inbound shipment receiving, picking and packing. Just because a 3PL charges for these services doesn't mean you should shy away from working with them.
This column is a measure of all-in pricing. Relative to all 3PLs that Zentail has evaluated, how much should you expect to pay for warehousing, picking, packing, transportation? This is on a scale of $ to $$$ -- for your reference, we grade FBA Multichannel Fulfillment as $$.
Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP)
One thing we're keeping an eye out for is the ability to have your 3PL ship Seller Fulfilled Prime. As of right now this is not an offering available from any of the 3PLs we integrate with and we have not heard of any 3PLs that reliably offer this service.
Walmart Free 2-Day Delivery
This is a new program currently available with Deliverr. SKUs fulfilled by Deliverr will qualify for the Free 2-Day Shipping badge on your Walmart Marketplace listings.
eBay Guaranteed Delivery Program
Is the 3PL compatible with eBay's Guaranteed Delivery program? This program features:
- Same-day OR 1-day handling, ship-from location postal code.
- eBay displays guaranteed deliver-by date based on buyer location.
- Buyers can filter listings by delivery date. eBay will make it right if delivery date is missed.
ShipStation as a Bridge to Smaller 3PLs
Smaller 3PLs commonly use ShipStation as a bridge to connect between Zentail and their systems. This arrangement has worked well but there is one important limitation; ShipStation does not allow the 3PL to communicate inventory to Zentail via API.
Let us know if you have any questions and feel free to request a demo and free 3PL consultation.
Zentail is a top-rated multichannel automation platform that integrates with leading 3PLs and makes it easy to sell on Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping Actions, Facebook Marketplace, Walmart Marketplace, Walmart DSV, Jet.com, Shopify, Bigcommerce and a growing selection of channels. Centrally manage product information, listings, pricing, inventory, orders, analytics and reordering from one beautiful interface.