17+ Best Order Fulfillment Services For Startups [2021]

In this post, I am going to do a deep dive into the world of eCommerce and list the 17+ of the best order fulfillment services for startups.

I understand that starting a company is one of the hardest things you can do as an entrepreneur. This is the kind of endeavor that you pour your blood, sweat, and tears into.

For this reason, you only want the best decisions investments for your business.

As such, I want to give you vital tips on how to choose the best fulfillment service to help your business operate as smoothly as it should.

What Are the Best Order Fulfillment Services For Startups?

Selecting the best three services in this list was a challenge because all of the options here are first-rate providers. Since I have firsthand experience on this matter, let me share with you my top recommendations.

  • ShipBob
  • FedEx Fulfillment Services
  • FreightPros

“Before you pick a fulfillment provider, you must learn the features and traits that you value for your company.”

— Burkhard Berger

1. ShipBob

ShipBob

ShipBob is the best fulfillment service for startups and small businesses, in my opinion. It has all the tools and features that you will need for your business.

What makes their service so good is the fact that they understand the struggles of starting a small business having started in 2012 with only $5,000 in seed money. They’ve grown their company into this giant company that remains loyal to the small businesses that supported its rise.

Key Features

  • eCommerce Efficient Inventory Management System: This is a blanket term that envelops all the inventory features they have. They have all the necessary features you’d want from a fulfillment center.
  • Tie-Up With FedEx, UPS, DHL, and USPS: They have a strong partnership with other low-budget shipping solutions to ensure that you get the most out of your money.
  • Service Integration On Different eCommerce Platforms: You can integrate ShipBob with various eCommerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Transparent pricingDoesn’t accept items that need refrigeration
Four fulfillment centers for more efficient distribution
Scalability-focused
Intuitive dashboard design

Best suited for

ShipBob is best suited for small businesses looking for a scalable fulfillment service partner. ShipBob may not be the cheapest of the bunch but it certainly makes up for it by providing its merchants with the best combination of customer support, reliability, ability to upscale, and pricing. 

Price

Here is their complete pricing information.

ShipBob pricing

2. FedEx Fulfillment Services

FedEx Fulfillment Services

FedEx is probably the most widely known shipping service in the world. Most people, even from the other side of the world, have heard of this company.

Now, you may be wondering what’s this company doing on this list of best fulfillment services for startup companies. FedEx is a big company after all. Does it belong here?

To tell you the truth, FedEx paved the way for this industry to have grown the way that it has. FedEx Fulfillment Service offers solutions for businesses of all sizes. Do not assume that they don’t care about smaller businesses because of their big name.

Out of every company on this list, FedEx has the most robust logistics system.

Key Features

  • Efficiency-Oriented: When you’ve been shipping for 30+ years, you have a few efficiency tricks up your sleeves.
  • Customized Packaging: This gives startups one less thing to worry about.
  • Comprehensive Tracking/Inventory Management System: Their platform provides one of the best, if not the best, management systems in the industry.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Largest shipping network on this listGeared more towards medium-sized businesses
Scalability is easy using FedEx100 items/week is their minimum item movement
Their logistics solutions are the best in the business
Offers the best packaging

Best suited for

If you are looking for a service that you know can deliver 99.99% of the time, then FedEx is the best choice. I don’t think there’s a need to tell you how these guys run their business because we all know they are capable. The only real downside is the higher than average minimum orders, but apart from that, FedEx comes highly-recommended.

Price

Unfortunately, FedEx is a bit hush-hush with regards to their pricing. You would have to request pricing information and provide your business details before you can get a quote.

3. FreightPros

Freightpros

FreightPros is another well-known powerhouse in the startup fulfillment industry. It’s become one of the top choices of small businesses because of their consistent performance.

What I particularly love about this fulfillment center is its ‘customer first’ approach. They encourage their customers to talk to their representatives to learn of ways to make their business run smoother.

Key Features

  • Comprehensive Tracking System: They have one of the most detailed tracking information in the business.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Competitive pricingNo international shipments
Customer-focused approach
Clean and intuitive interface
Customized specific pricing for eligible merchants

Best suited for

The reason FreightPro remains a top choice for startups is their willingness to engage with their customers, even those that are particularly clueless about the business. It makes opening small businesses easier and hassle-free.

Price

FreightPros does not disclose its full pricing; its pricing fluctuates heavily depending on the items, capacity, business type, and spending power of its merchants.

They have what they call Customer Specific Pricing which allows their merchants to negotiate down on the pricing, so long as they meet the criteria.

4. Direct Outbound

Direct outbound

Direct Outbound is one of those companies that operate in the background, day-in, and day-out, consistently and without delay.

It’s not the most popular fulfillment service. In a way, its mediocre popularity is what makes it a great partner for smaller businesses. 

A smaller number of clients means better customer support.

Key Features

  • Open To Subscription Boxes: This feature is perfect for merchants that have monthly products
  • Import-Friendly: They know their way around customs which can help you import items more easily
  • Pick + Pack: This is their bread and butter – just send your items and they’ll break it down for your customers

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Transparent pricingShipments outside major cities take longer
Subscription boxes fulfillment service
Customizable fulfillment service
24/7/365 customer support

Best suited for

What makes Direct Outbound the perfect fulfillment service partner is they are still aren’t that popular. What I mean by this is they value their customers more than their competitors which nets you better service overall.

This is a company that is still on the up-and-up. This means that it has the potential to blow up in popularity so now is the time to partner up with it.

Price

direct outbound pricing

This is their basic pricing according to their website. This is still subject to change, depending on the type of business you have.

5. eFulfillment Service

eFulfillment Service

eFulfillment Service is another startup-friendly fulfillment center that operates in two large storage houses located in Traverse City, Michigan.

This strategic location allows them to offer great pricing to their customers, especially for businesses that are just taking off.

Key Features

  • Fulfillment Control Panel: This is their main software which allows their users to carry out operations remotely and easily
  • Cross-Docking: This means that your items may not sit long inside the warehouse because many items get sent outbound as soon as they hit the warehouse

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Accepts international servicesPricing only available upon request
No minimum order conditions
Small-business friendly operation
Pricing is based on cubic feet

Best suited for

If you think you can squeeze more items inside 1 cubic foot than 1 pallet, then eFulfillment Service is the perfect option. 

Price

You need to pay an initial fee for the onboarding process. The pricing of this stage costs around $23.50/week.

Instead of basing their pricing per pallets, they price their items using Cubic feet. For exact pricing, you need to request a free quote since their pricing structures differ depending on the items and business type.

6. Red Stag

Red Stag

Red Stag fulfillment provides its customers with cloud-based software solutions that allow their customers to process all of their orders and inventories remotely.

It’s quickly becoming the go-to choice by many companies which is justified, seeing how they operate their centers.

Key Features

  • Cloud-Based Software Solutions: This gives this company a better tracking solution

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Offers cloud-based software solutionsStrict on what items it allows
24/7 tech-based tracking
Intuitive interface
Automation-based services

Best suited for

If you value scalability and connectivity for your business, Red Stag should be on your radar. Its combination of cloud-based solutions and the clever interface makes for a hassle-free managing of your business. 

Price

This is their pricing structure. 

Red Stag Pricing

7. Phase V

Phase V

Phase V is another top-rated company that comes highly recommended for startups and small businesses. This company values efficient solutions greatly which makes its software one of the best in the business.

Key Features

  • Efficient Inventory Management System: Even though they are not the biggest fulfillment center here, they have one of the best-designed inventory management in the business.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
24/7 customer supportPricing plan is only available on requests
Reverse logistics featureOutside shipments can be slow
Efficient onboarding and outboard processes
Great scalability for growing businesses

Best suited for

If you are running a small online business that depends highly on automation, then Phase V is the perfect fit. 

Price

Unfortunately, they do not disclose their pricing. It is only available upon request on their website.

8. Whiplash Fulfillment

Whiplash Fulfillment

Nothing stands out on Whiplash in terms of its features and that’s not a bad thing.

It just means that it has all the features you need for your startup. It does everything so well that it’s easy to overlook some of its features.

They sit comfortably in the middle of the pack when you factor in the price to reliability ratio. They lead the industry when it comes to full marketing integration, though.

Key Features

  • Real-time Control: If you are particular about the day-to-day performance of your business, they have tool for that

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Has a startup corner that aims to help new businessesPlatform is a bit more complicated
Transparent pricing
Enables exchanges in-house
Provides custom packing

Best suited for

If you are looking for a fulfillment service that will also help you market your startup to the proper demographic, you should look into Whiplash.

Price

Here is their pricing guideline.

Whiplash Fulfillment pricing

9. Fulfillify

Fulfillify

Fulfillify is one of the easiest fulfillment service centers to get accepted into. They have such a low barrier of entry which makes them the perfect candidate for startup companies.

They also feature mobile compatibility more than their competitors. It’s one of their many selling points. If you want to see how your business is doing, anywhere, and anytime, Fulfillify should be your first option.

Key Features

  • Service Integration: You can use Fulfillify on the biggest eCommerce sites like Amazon, Shopify, Oberlo, and others.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Accepts international servicesPrice is higher than average especially for 1000 items/month up
No minimum order conditions
Small-business friendly operation
Real-time tracking for orders

Best suited for

If you don’t like dealing with complicated pricing matrices, then Fulfillify is the best way to go. They are focused on making all of their eCommerce services available on all kinds of mobile devices which allows you to manage your business on the go.

Price

This is their average pricing. (take note that this is subject to change, depending on the items)

  • 1-1000 items/month = $2.50/order
  • 1001-3000 items/month = $2.29/order
  • 3001-6000 items/month = $2.09/order

10. Ships-a-Lot

Ships-a-Lot

Ships-a-Lot is another fulfillment center that is quickly trending up because of its great reliability. It combines reliability, competitive pricing, intuitive dashboard, customer support, and detailed tracking into a single package that is catered towards small business owners.

Key Features

  • 24-Hour Turnaround: Ships-a-Lot promises a 24-hour turnaround for client shipping which is super fast

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Accepts international servicesPrice is not shown on their website
No minimum order conditions
Offers unlimited warehouse space for high-volume deliveries
Integrates seamlessly with popular online selling platforms

Best suited for

Ships-a-Lot is one of the most overlooked fulfillment service centers in the industry. I am still wondering why it hasn’t blown up in popularity yet considering its solid features.

Price

What we know is they bill a minimum of $35/month. As for their price per item, you’d have to request a quote on their website.

11. Shipvine

Shipvine

Shipvine is another impressive startup-oriented fulfillment service. They have competitive pricing which can be negotiated if you have great sales volume.

What’s more impressive is the fact that they offer same-day shipping for some of their items, a feat not often seen on other small-scale fulfillment services.

Key Features

  • Central Hub Location: Shipvine’s location provides for fast access from major highways and airports as well as from the distribution centers for major shipping agents such as FedEx and USPS 

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Works best for small to medium-sized companiesDoes not offer that much discount for companies moving large volumes of items
Transparent pricingReturns are processed at $2 + $0.50 per item
One standard pricing regardless of the number of items

Best suited for

If you don’t mind slightly higher storage fees, then Shipvine is a great choice. They have great shipping accuracy and fulfillment time which makes them a highly recommended service in this segment.

Price

Their fulfillment pricing comes in at $2 per order + $0.25/unit. Their storage rate depends on the size of your item in cubic feet.

12. Shopify Fulfillment Network

Shopify Fulfillment Network

I almost did not include this fulfillment service because Shopify is considered a big company. It’s also a relatively new company which makes their service untested.

Upon closer look though, it looks like Shopify is using subcontracting smaller fulfillment centers to expand their logistic systems. This is a great feature but at the same time, this makes Shopify almost like a middle man.

Key Features

  • Robust Return Management: Returned items are processed to ensure they comply with the brand’s return policy
  • Strategic Warehouse Location: This makes 24-shipping a possibility for most of your buyers

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Known for supporting its usersKnown to subcontract to smaller fulfillment centers
Easy integration if your online shop is made on Shopify
Extremely scalable
Plenty of warehouses across North America

Best suited for

Shopify Fulfillment services provide an all-in-one solution to small business owners. If your entire eCommerce site is built on this platform, that’s all the more reason to buy into their whole ecosystem to give you better business processes.

Price

Shopify Fulfillment Network pricing

Shopify Fulfillment Network’s pricing is quotes-based. They also offer a 14-day free trial.

13. SEED Fulfillment Service

SEED Fulfillment Service

SEED Fulfillment Service can be considered a relative newcomer in the business. It is an independently-owned business. This means that they value their customers more than bigger companies. They may not be the biggest company in the business but they sure compensate for that with better service.

One of the main goals is to learn the business of their clients. That should tell you a lot about the company.

Key Features

  • Amazon-Compatible: You can store and process your Amazon items from their fulfillment centers 
  • Item-Based Packaging: To reduce waste and unnecessary bloat, Seed made their packaging dependent on the type of item being shipped

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Transparent pricingDashboard would take some getting used to
24/7 access to our web-based order fulfillment software
Discounted inbound freight of your inventory
Order confirmations via email to you and your customers

Best suited for

Their pricing for 1 – 500 items per month is higher than average. Their rate for 51 – 1000 items per month, on the other hand, is a great recommendation because of its competitive pricing. In my opinion, their basic 51 – 1000 items/month rate is hard to beat.

Price

Here is their pricing information.

SEED fulfillment service

14. Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA)

Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA)

Out of all the fulfillment services I’ve listed here, FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) is without a doubt the most popular.

I almost left this out of this list completely because it’s not exactly a good recommendation for startups. Amazon works better for bigger companies that already have a following. International brands have their accounts on Amazon.

The main reason FBA is not even in the top 5 recommendations for startups is largely in part because of their AmazonBasics brand. AmazonBasics is Amazon’s generic version of items. If they see that some companies are having success in one category, they will quickly swoop in, rebrand the item, and sell it for cheap.

This AmazonBasics branding creates competition that you don’t need especially if you’re just a startup.

Key Features

  • Biggest Logistics Chain: This is pretty self-explanatory. It’s Amazon.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Has a large following which means an increased audienceWill directly compete with you using their AmazonBasics brand
Automation-heavyPricing scheme is complicated
Discounted shipping rates
FBA comes with Amazon Prime Shipping

Best suited for

If you are confident in your ability to deal with bigger companies like Amazon, then it’s one of the best services you can get. They have more complex pricing details, though, but if you take the time to understand their pricing scheme, you can save a lot of money.

Price

Amazon FBA pricing details are available on their website. Unfortunately, I can’t go over their pricing thoroughly because they have so many pricing packages. Single order fulfillment fees can go as low as $1.72 and as high as $137.32 per item.

15. Symphony Commerce

Symphony Commerce

Symphony Commerce is yet another diamond in the rough in the fulfillment service industry. It’s quickly becoming the go-to choice for many startups that are looking to cut their shipping budget.

Symphony Commerce offers one of the best rates in the business, especially for businesses that only expect 50 – 500 orders per month.

Key Features

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Prints shipping packagesDashboard design needs some work
Strong customer service support
Orders received multiple ways
SKU labeling and bagging

Best suited for

Symphony Commerce is best for small businesses that only expect 50 – 500 items a month. Their rates don’t change much even for small storage which makes it a wise choice.

Price

Unfortunately, they do not provide detailed pricing packages for potential customers. You need to contact them on their website to get a quote.

16. ShipStation

ShipStation

ShipStation is another impressive startup-oriented fulfillment service.

They have competitive pricing for businesses that are shipping under 500 items/month. A great choice for smaller companies, indeed.

Key Features

  • Startup-oriented: Their rates for 500 or below shipments/month is one of the best in the business

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Works best for small to medium-sized companiesDashboard is a rudimentary
Transparent pricingHit-or-miss customer support
Includes packing services
Cheap fee for under 500 shipments/month

Best suited for

ShipStation boasts one of the cheapest storage and professional fees in the business. 

Price

Here’s their professional pricing. It doesn’t show their fulfillment fee per item, though.

ShipStation pricing

17. ShipMonk

ShipMonk

ShipMonk is another top-rated fulfillment service that has fallen under the radar.

Perhaps the reason for this is it doesn’t do that much marketing. Make no mistake though, ShipMonk is a perfectly capable fulfillment company.

Key Features

  • Subscription Box Support: Many companies today have begun introducing subscription boxes to their services. ShipMonk is one of the first fulfillment centers to embrace this direction.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Supports monthly/weekly subscription box Dashboard lacks certain functions
Wonderful customer support
Startup-friendly rates
Cheap fee for under 500 shipments/month

Best suited for

ShipMonk is your best option if you want to get a fulfillment partner that will give you 100% support. ShipMonk may be a small company but they care about their clients a lot, and it shows.

Price

Here is their pricing. This only shows their 0 – 500 items/month rate. If you want to get a specific amount, you need to request a quote on their website.

18. Shipfusion

Shipfusion

Shipfusion is a fulfillment service that is built for scalability. It offers great rates for smaller businesses while providing top-notch service unlike any.

Key Features

  • Scalability: While this company is best for medium-sized business, they offer great support for growing companies
  • Intuitive Dashboard: Their dashboard is one the simplest in the segment, allowing for much easier navigation of your inventory

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Provides training for startupsDoes not provide SEO management
Web-based trackingPricing details are only available upon request
Impressive inventory tracking
Offers special order management

Best suited for

If you are looking for a company that can take good care of your items, then this 

Price

Unfortunately, they don’t disclose the average pricing of their fulfillment service.

Why Use an eCommerce Fulfillment Company?

Renting your own warehouse space, equipment, packing supplies, maintenance, and staff would add to your overhead costs.

If you use an eCommerce fulfillment company, you’re practically outsourcing the packing and shipping of your items, effectively cutting your expenditures by a considerable amount.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Order Fulfillment Service

You need to do your due diligence and select the best ones according to these factors. You can adjust how much you value each of these qualities according to your needs.

  • Pricing and Flexibility: This is the first factor you need to consider when looking for an order fulfillment service. Since you are just a startup company, the importance of pricing is highlighted even more. The company you choose should have flexible payment options. Avoid large monthly retainers since that would impede your cash flow.
  • Storage Fees and Rules: You should read beyond the storage fee contract and understand some of the rules these fulfillment services employ. Smaller companies need to be extra vigilant for these rules. Some fulfillment centers will charge low for storage capacity but charge high for the storage duration. Make sure to read these terms to fully understand what you’re getting into.
  • No Hidden Fees: Make sure that the fulfillment center you choose does not hide any fees on top of their standard pricing. For instance, some fulfillment services would have fees for extra packing, or food items. Small fees do catch up, even more so if you’re just a small company.
  • Scalability: You want a fulfillment service that can accommodate your expansion, assisting your journey along the way.
  • Customer Support: This should go without saying. You want a fulfillment service that provides 24-hour support for their merchants. In a world where 1-day shipping is becoming the go-to choice, delays seem unforgivable.
  • Automation: This also means software implementation. You should look for a fulfillment center that needs very little input from you or your staff. You want to have the shipping side of things of your business running as smoothly as possible without assistance.
  • Lock-in Period: Some newer vendors put a ‘lock-in period’ on the contract to secure the merchant for the duration of the contract. While some bigger companies are also guilty of doing this, it’s not a good practice, in my opinion. I would always choose a company that allows its users to cancel anytime. That being said, I do understand the need for lock-in contracts in some cases. In any case, you must research the reputation and history of the company wanting to lock you into a long-term contract. Make sure that they make their end of the bargain.
  • Experience/Reputation: Many businessmen that are just starting make the mistake of looking at the price alone. This is not a wise business decision as it blinds you from arguably more essential factors like reputation, dependability, customer support, and all the things listed here. Consider the price but do not make it the be-all and end-all thing that dictates your decision. Join some forums on fulfillment services and take note of all the chatter about different companies. Places like those, ones with firsthand experience working with companies, offer more useful insights when researching the reputation of a company.
  • Proper Licenses and Certifications: You should always look for the proper paperwork, licenses, and certifications when dealing with fulfillment partners. At the time of this writing, there isn’t any governing body or agency that monitors the fulfillment service industry. There are independent organizations that give out certifications to legitimate fulfillment centers – American Purchasing Society, International Warehouse Logistics Association, and Warehousing Education and Research Council.

Conclusion

Do not make the mistake of underestimating the effect eCommerce fulfillment companies have on a company, especially for a startup business.

This is the main reason for this 17+ best order fulfillment services for startups article. I’ve seen so many startup companies burn out because they chose a fulfillment service that isn’t suited for their type of business. 

Even good fulfillment companies will sometimes fail if they aren’t suited to the type of business of the startup company. You need to find the right type of fulfillment service for your business. 

That being said, being the  #1 eCommerce fulfillment company on this list does not mean that it will work flawlessly for all kinds of businesses. The #1 choice in this list is just the best general-purpose fulfillment service for startups.

To learn which fulfillment service suits your business perfectly, you need to create a list of all the qualities you value the most. Find the closest match and close the deal.

If there’s one thing that you should take away from this article is the importance of a good eCommerce fulfillment service. A good fulfillment service can be the difference between just getting by and earning millions of profit.

To help expand your startup, start by contacting any of the 17+ eCommerce Order Fulfillment services I’ve listed here. I’d start with the best ones if I were you.

“Choosing the right order fulfillment service can take your business to the next level.”

— Burkhard Berger

FAQ 

How Can I Improve My eCommerce Order Fulfillment?

Improving your eCommerce order fulfillment is going to take several processes long. I’ve enumerated the steps to improve your order fulfillment process

  • Ensure seamless integration
  • Enable order visibility on both ends
  • Select the right shipper
  • Understand the importance of timely delivery
  • Be smart about your warehouse location
  • Open lines of communication with your consumer
  • Understand that returns and refunds are part of the game

Which Is the Best Order Fulfillment Service for Startups?

I consider ShipBob to be the best fulfillment service for Startups and small businesses. Their business model is specifically designed for businesses that deal with small-item purchases like cosmetics, supplements, and more. 

How To Choose eCommerce Fulfillment Services for Small Businesses

Below are some of the most important aspects of a fulfillment service. Select a company that can provide you the best combination of all the qualities.

  • Pricing and Flexibility
  • Storage Fees and Rules
  • No Hidden Fees
  • Scalability
  • Customer Support
  • Automation
  • Lock-in Period
  • Experience/Reputation
  • Proper Licenses and Certifications

In This Article

Burkhard Berger

Burkhard Berger

Follow me on my journey from $0 to $100,000 per month. I'm sharing everything I've learned in my income reports here on Novum™ so you can pick up on my mistakes and wins.

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