You may wonder if a fulfillment center is only for large businesses. Is it expensive? Do you need certain sales volume? Does it require too much extra work you don't have the time for? To answer those questions, we must clarify that 3PL fulfillment is in fact for every type of business. However, you simply have to partner with a fulfillment company that caters to small businesses. That's why we put together this list of the best fulfillment center for small business, taking into account pricing, accessibility, fulfillment speed, and volume requirements.
We want to ensure that all startups and small businesses have access to similar fulfillment opportunities as the big dogs. Our research found several fulfillment centers that only ship in the US, along with others that offer international shipping. We also looked for affordable options, and those that give you quality customer support, as there's nothing worse than sitting on hold for too long when you're trying to run a small business.
Keep reading to learn all about the best fulfillment centers for small business!
Best Fulfillment Center for Small Business
The best fulfillment centers for small business provide a mix of value, expertise, and quality control. Not to mention, these ecommerce fulfillment companies make it extremely easy for you to integrate with your online store, notify the fulfillment company about orders, and manage your inventory from an online dashboard.
The following list shows fulfillment companies (and their centers) that provide excellent services and don't avoid small retailers (like you may find with other fulfillment providers). They're in no particular, but we encourage you to read about them all to get a stronger understanding of which one works best for your ecommerce business.
1. ShipBob – The Best Fulfillment Center for Small Business
You can find many hidden advantages when partnering with a fulfillment company. For example, ShipBob reduces cart abandonment rates by 18%, while also saving small businesses up to 18% of their own shipping costs. And with fulfillment centers across the United States, ShipBob provides fast fulfillment to improve customer satisfaction in the US.
ShipBob even has a Growth Plan designed for startups, with no minimums and the ability to go through onboarding at your own pace, via on-demand resources, step-by-step information, help from their support team, live office hours sessions, and the ability to pay a small fee for 1:1 implementation support.
Some of the fulfillment center locations include:
- Edison, NJ
- Woodridge, IL
- St. Petersburg, FL
- Carrollton, TX
- Los Angeles, CA
Besides its extensive network of high-volume local centers, ShipBob offers international shipping for those with customers all around the globe. The online interface makes things easier for small business owners as well, seeing as how you can integrate directly with all major platforms and send automated orders to ShipBob for fulfillment.
The international shipping comes in many forms. First, ShipBob operates fulfillment centers in the US, Canada, the UK, the EU, and Australia, allowing you to store products at those locations for fast shipments to customers who live closer to those areas. It's also possible to offer fast international shipping even if the customer doesn't live by a facility. Along with a beautiful order management panel, options for two-day express shipping in the US (and standard and expedited shipping across the globe), and reporting that makes your life easier for future decisions, you can't go wrong with ShipBob as your fulfillment partner.
- Reporting and inventory management software that you get for free with your ShipBob account.
- A complete order fulfillment services dashboard to send out orders automatically, see them move from processing to picked, packed, and shipped in real time as they get fulfilled, and see real-time inventory counts across every location.
- Options to offer rapid shipping to most customers, including two-day shipping to anywhere in the continental US (even from one fulfillment center) that allows you to compete with even the fastest ecommerce stores.
- A large fulfillment center network, along with a smart distribution feature, for storing products where it makes the most sense to reduce your shipping costs and transit times. For instance, you may find that one product mainly gets sold in the Midwest, so you would send most of the products to a center in Wisconsin or Illinois.
- A comprehensive collection of integrations for popular ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce, Shopify, Wix, Square, and Squarespace.
- Integrations for other software like return management platforms, inventory management, shopping carts, and freight and shipping solutions.
- Integrations with the most popular marketplaces, such as Amazon, Walmart, and eBay.
- An end-to-end customer experience with tracking codes, notifications, apps, and many other elements like return labels and a complete return management system.
All the ShipBob software comes with your fulfillment and storage fees. Those fees include:
- Receiving inventory at their fulfillment center: $25 for the initial two hours, and $40 per work hour after that.
- Storage per SKU: $40 per pallet per month, along with a $10 fee per month for each shelf and a $5 per month fee for bins.
- Picking and packing: You get four picks for free. After that, ShipBob adds on a $0.20 per pick fee for the fifth pick and up.
- Standard packing: All the standard packaging comes for free, including plain mailers and boxes. It's possible to use your own custom mailers, inserts, and packaging, by only paying for a monthly storage fee (e.g., $5 per month for a bin to store your marketing insert or branded poly mailer).
- Shipping: The shipping pricing varies. It depends on a wide range of factors like the destination, dimensions, and weight. ShipBob has partnerships with the shipping services, so you can ship orders and get discounts.
Overall, ShipBob pricing is transparent and affordable, making it a best fulfillment center for small business—especially considering you get to focus on other things to make your company money. The main fees include an implementation fee and fees for shipping, storing, and receiving. Most pick and pack services are free.
Further reading 📚
The Shopify Fulfillment Network is suitable for small online businesses because of its extensive network of centers, a low price range, and its perfect integration with Shopify (one of the most popular ecommerce platforms for small businesses). There are some limits, however. The main one is that Shopify Fulfillment doesn't partner with any companies outside of the US, at least for now. They also only have one center outside of the US. Having said that, Shopify can still ship to most other countries.
A tremendous advantage of partnering with Shopify for fulfillment is that many brands already use Shopify as their ecommerce platform. Small businesses require as much simplicity as possible, so it's nice that the fulfillment system integrates directly with the Shopify platform. You even get billed on the same invoice. Shopify also offers low pricing, a beautiful interface, and smart distribution features to ensure your products get placed in the right centers throughout the US (and Canada).
- You receive all of your selling and fulfillment tools on the same recognizable dashboard you're used to with Shopify.
- The fulfillment network covers every part of the US with centers in Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, California, and more. They also keep adding to this list. The one in Canada is in Ontario.
- You can brand many of the shipping materials and marketing inserts.
- Shopify offers same-day delivery and rapid shipping with major partners like FedEx, USPS, and UPS.
- You control all the data when fulfilling products. You can see where the products go, how long it takes to get there, and if something gets returned.
- Make sales through popular marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, and Amazon.
- You can't get more transparent about pricing than with the Shopify Fulfillment Center. Not to mention, it's all merged onto one invoice.
- All customers receive access to dedicated customer support.
- Shopify partners with its shipping partners to pass along steep discounts and accurate delivery times.
- There's a smart distribution feature for storing products anywhere you want in the network. Shopify does this outsourcing, since they choose the locations and recommend them to you for more efficient fulfillment in the future.
- All returns get processed through Shopify.
- You can manage real-time inventory updates directly through the Shopify dashboard.
- The Shopify Fulfillment Network supports small businesses selling B2B or wholesale. You can also send out subscriptions.
Shopify Fulfillment charges two types of fees: storage (including special projects) and the process of picking, packing, and shipping.
There's no exact pricing module listed on the Shopify website, but Shopify makes it affordable for all small businesses considering it's based on the volume sold and how much inventory needs storing.
Here are some specifics on the pricing from Shopify Fulfillment:
- You must contact Shopify and go through a quick application process to receive a custom quote.
- Wholesale orders are on a different pricing scale.
- You have the option to get charged on a “per fulfillment” basis.
- Shipping fees factor in elements like the shipping carrier, destination, and size of the package.
- Shopify charges on a monthly basis for inventory storage.
- You must discuss special projects to factor that into your bottom line.
Further reading 📚
ShipMonk is like ShipBob because it offers a quick integration with all ecommerce platforms, a stunning dashboard for inventory automation, and one of the simplest setups for launching fulfillment processes. Although ShipMonk provides a strong, three-location fulfillment network, it hasn't quite reached the size of ShipBob.
ShipMonk does a wonderful job of remaining transparent with pricing; they provide a fee calculator online, and there are no hidden fees to partner with ShipMonk. We also enjoy that ShipMonk helps small businesses get started with FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon), because it offers Amazon FBA prep services in addition to its regular third-party logistics. The ShipMonk fulfillment centers also allow for subscription box fulfillment and other special projects. We feel it's one of the best fulfillment centers for small business because of its intuitive online interface, quick integrations with ecommerce platforms, and transparent pricing (seeing as how so many small business owners will want to know the exact pricing right up front).
- ShipMonk has three fulfillment centers in the United States: Los Angeles, CA; Pittston, PA; and Fort Lauderdale, FL. This gives you direct access to every major area of the US, and it simplifies the distribution process.
- You receive an all-in-one fulfillment management software with modules for inventory, warehousing, shipping, distribution, tracking and more in one product.
- There are over 100 integrations with third-party software. This includes links and syncing with many the major ecommerce platforms.
- You can use a cost calculator before signing up for fulfillment services. After that, ShipMonk is rather transparent, showing you all the fees and not hitting you with any hidden charges.
- Take advantage of advanced reports for unit distribution, costs, orders, and fulfillment accuracy.
- ShipMonk provides support for special projects, especially if small businesses need help with FBA or sending out subscription boxes.
- You gain access to a complete returns management program where the products get rerouted back to ShipMonk and customers receive a beautiful return module for creating the returns.
Standard fulfillment fees vary depending on the project, but ShipMonk states the following estimates on its website:
- Picking: $2.50 per order. This is for up to 500 monthly orders. Pricing usually decreases per order if you have a higher volume. It's $0.50 for all picks after your limit and $0.20 if you want branded inserts.
- Return processing: $2.00 for every return. There's a $0.50 extra fee for additional items in the return.
- Storage: Pricing for storage depends on the storage products used. For instance, every small bin costs $1 per month. Medium bins cost $2 per month. Pallets cost $20 per month.
- Special projects: Shipmonk does have a $250 minimum pick and pack fee per month. Special projects cost $45 per work hour, and you have additional costs for them to unload containers.
- Packaging materials: $0.15 to $2.00.
Keep in mind that FBA and subscription box pricing differ from the standard fulfillment fees listed above. Check out the Shipmonk website to look into the special project costs.
Further reading 📚
Deliverr takes an approach that links your fulfillment process to multiple sales channels. Competitors on this list offer multi-channel fulfillment as well, but Deliverr provides a longer list, with options to fulfill orders on Wish, Amazon, eBay, and many other marketplaces. The main reason Deliverr stands out is because all of those orders are combined onto one dashboard. You can integrate with something like BigCommerce or Shopify then offer next-day shipping to customers that want it.
You can also turn on badges that show how customers can receive 2-day shipping for certain products on your store; this includes options to offer free shipping as well. Deliverr functions like a funnel that brings together a myriad of other channels into one place. Manage your products from one online dashboard, sell them on five different marketplaces (and your website), then fulfill each of those separate orders using the same network. Take advantage of Deliverr's large fulfillment network that spans all across the United States, including about 15 locations.
- Deliverr offers one of the largest fulfillment center networks for small business with locations in places like Ohio, Kentucky, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and Texas.
- You receive a complete inventory management software to figure out where to send products, manage channels, and offer varying shipment speeds.
- There's a badging system to show which products have fast, free shipping. Use this to prompt people to buy more products.
- All pricing is fairly low and transparent. For example, you can check fee estimates on the Deliverr website.
- Most marketplaces and ecommerce platforms you integrate have a free two-day shipping option.
- Each marketplace and platform has its own fulfillment modules. It's all on the same dashboard, but you can click to only view shipments for Shopify, Walmart, or eBay.
For small businesses, Deliverr looks like a reasonable option when it comes to pricing. Although every merchant gets a custom quote, they offer a cost calculator to visualize what you may end up spending based on an Amazon link or manual product import.
Some example cost estimates for iPhone cases include:
- Standard fulfillment: $4.26
- Wish Fast Tag: $7.52
- eBay Fast Tag: $4.26.
- Storage Cost (with 50 average monthly units): $1.20 per month.
Special projects cost more, and you see fee variations based on shipping requirements for batteries, perishables, or other non-standard items. However, you know these costs prior to opting for Deliverr and sending out any products.
Further reading 📚
Red Stag Fulfillment presents a unique opportunity for small businesses to partner with what many would consider a small business fulfillment center. We know Red Stag as a reliable, cost-efficient fulfillment solution for ecommerce stores in the United States to ship domestically and internationally, primarily with its two fulfillment centers in Salt Lake City and Knoxville. One of the great things about Red Stag is that it's a smaller business itself, so you receive committed client support instead of having to worry about waiting around for emails or never getting on the phone with someone.
They also offer special fulfillment needs, complete transparency in pricing and shipping, along with discounted shipping rates for all major carriers. Furthermore, you gain access to Red Stag's same-day order fulfillment, getting products to customers faster, or at least offering that option to them.
Red Stag sees its relationship with small businesses as more of a business partnership, not one where your brand is one of thousands of other clients they have to deal with. That definitely gives it an advantage when compared to other fulfillment centers on this list. One downside is that Red Stag has a smaller fulfillment center network than just about every other competitor on the list. Having said that, they still promise 100% accurate fulfillment and extremely fast shipping times to the vast majority of the United States. That's possible since the two fulfillment centers are located in a way to reach just about every state in 1-2 days.
Red Stag provides a professional, online order management dashboard for you to distribute products to each center, walk through onboarding, choose the best shipping carriers, and track products as they get sent to customers. And Red Stag integrates with the top ecommerce platforms, including WooCommerce and Shopify. Along with shipment tracking (sent to the merchant and customers) and discounted shipping labels, Red Stag looks like a winner for most small businesses.
- Although smaller than the competition, Red Stag's fulfillment center network includes two locations placed in the perfect locations for rapid shipments to the entire United States. They also plan to add another fulfillment center in Los Angeles.
- You can integrate with popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Volusion, and WooCommerce.
- Red Stag provides a free order and inventory management system for free after signing up for its fulfillment services. This software includes features for distributing products between the warehouses, changing order volumes, and understanding where products get shipped to.
- You can offer same-day fulfillment and several speedy shipping options for customers.
- Many discounts are available for small businesses, such as price cuts on storage and shipping carrier fees.
- You can customize the entire dashboard for your business.
- Red Stag processes all returns if necessary. It also provides a returns management module in your online fulfillment software.
- We've found it more likely to get a hold of a knowledgeable client support rep when working with Red Stag. This is most likely because most of the employees are based in-house, so they have sound knowledge about the company and its workings.
Fee estimates aren't listed on the Red Stag website since every merchant must contact the company for a custom quote. To give you an idea of what fees to expect, here's what we've been told gets factored into your final cost:
That looks pretty standard compared to the competition, and you should probably expect special project fees if they come around (or if you'd like to include certain branding items or send out subscriptions). The great news is that Red Stag has no hidden fees, no long-term contracts, no fees to set up an account, and no account management fees. And there's no monthly minimum, making it a best fulfillment center for small business.
Further reading 📚
What's the Best Fulfillment Center for Your Small Business?
Are you still having trouble figuring out the best fulfillment center for your small business? Look at our final recommendations below to narrow down your list:
- Shipbob: Our #1 best fulfillment center for small business because of its large warehouse network, affordable and transparent pricing, and wonderful integration and software options.
- Shopify Fulfillment Network: Best for small businesses already using Shopify as their ecommerce platform. The pricing is transparent and reasonable, and you can't go wrong with the Shopify interface. Skip this if you don't plan on using Shopify for your website, or if you'd rather your fulfillment company own its centers, since it doesn't appear that's the case with Shopify.
- Red Stag Fulfillment: A top option for small business fulfillment because of its dedicated client support staff, small business mentality, and small but efficient distribution network. It's a solid operation where you can get on the phone with someone if needed.
- Shipmonk: This is one of the lower priced fulfillment companies, making it suitable for small businesses. We also like the software and its support for FBA.
- Deliverr: This one makes the most sense if you plan on selling on several marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. It's not the easiest to use compared to others on this list, but they bring together a solid multi-channel fulfillment platform.
Let us know in the comments if you have any further questions about the best fulfillment center for small business. And feel free to share thoughts if you have experience with any of these fulfillment companies in the past.