Best 3PLs for CPG Businesses

84% of customers won’t come back after just one bad shipping experience. 3PLs solve this for scaling businesses. Warehousing and shipping your products is a time suck as a small team, and rarely efficient as companies grow. Luckily, there’s 3PLs, professional support domestically and globally to tap into. Here’s how they work and a list of 3PL options for businesses of all sizes.

3PL stands for third party logistics.

3PLs focus on fulfillment–sending products ordered via e-commerce to end customers. They also store products related to shorter term periods of time that lineup with fulfillment demand. 3PLs aren’t “warehouse” solutions – warehousing refers to longer term storage, without fulfillment. Where warehousing comes into play is if you have way more quantities of a product than you ship out via fulfillment. 3PLs will store product, but not months and months worth.

How do 3PLs typically charge?

– Per shipment to process
– Per cubic foot of storage over time
– Per pallet or by the hour to intake/accept
+ the actual shipping costs

How do you know if your business is ready for a 3PL? If you order and ship out multiple pallets worth a month, that’s the minimum which is worth considering. If you’re doing containers full of product… it’s very likely time.

So what solutions should you consider? I’ve got a wide list below.

No matter who you choose
– Check to make sure you’re aware of all fees (setup, storage etc)
– Make sure you understand how issues are resolved
– Check reviews and ask for references from businesses your size

Packdash is a common starting point, know for their transparent, no-fee structure. A great option for smaller business starting out.

Boxtrot is another good starting option, focused on low cost. 1000+ shipments a month goes down to 1 dollar each. As of now, looks like its waitlist only to join.

A unique solution, especially for smaller footprint products is Atomix Logistics, who use 500sq ft “micro-pods” and dedicated fulfillment managers for brands to keep customer experience streamlined.

If you’re needs are starting to get more complex, for instance you need to integrate into inventory software, deal with extensive customs or duties issues, and integrate selling through marketplaces, you’ll need a more robust solution like the popular ShipMonk and Shipbob. ShipBob offers dedicated support for transitioning 3PLs, which I’ve heard is a great selling point for their service to scaling businesses, as those transitions can often be taxing on small businesses scaling.

Focused on the US and looking for same day delivery for a tailored experience? Shipping Tree is an interesting option for businesses that are looking for those specifics.

Ship Hero is another interesting option, specifically if you operated an internal operation and have insights on the fulfillment process, or want to focus on optimizing the fulfillment experience with your input. They offer real time monitoring and extensive efficiency reports.