Comparison of 4 Fulfillment Service Companies for Hardware Startups

If you’re planning on outsourcing your shipping – which might be a good idea if you’re a small business or entrepreneur – then it’s important to do your research before choosing a company to handle the job.

Picking the right fulfillment company will help keep your overheads down and your profit margins up. More than that though, it will ensure that your customers receive their orders on time, and in one piece – which will have a clear impact on their experience with your brand.

This is something that’s particularly important to consider if you plan on running a crowdfunding campaign. Think about your shipping before you start drumming up funds – otherwise you can come unstuck when it’s time to deliver, which is something that happens to a lot of startups.

There are lots of different fulfillment companies for companies in the US to choose from, but here, we’ll be taking a look at four of the biggest. This will help founders to make a more informed decision that hopefully benefits their business and their customers.

fulfillment 1Four Fulfillment Services to Consider

Rushorder.com

Rushorder.com is a particularly good fulfillment option that caters specifically to tech startups and that has worked with a number of companies fresh off of AngelList, Indiegogo and Kickstarter as well as several other well-known tech brands. These include the likes of Jawbone, Roku, Palm, Lexar and even Napster. They describe themselves as the ‘launchpad for startups’ best ideas’. As you might imagine, the company features a number of benefits that are particularly appealing to tech startups too – such as ecommerce integration and a 24/7 contact center for your customers. They have facilities in California and New York and can also ship to Canada and Europe. Price-wise you’ll need to get in touch with Rush Order itself to get a quote but as they’re aimed at smaller businesses, you can reasonably expect a fairly priced service.

Fulfillment.com

Fulfillment.com offers the lowest cost in general for hardware startups, which is likely to be one of the most important factors for small businesses and entrepreneurs. In addition, this company is able to integrate with a number of Ecommerce platforms including eBay, Shopify, Volusion etc. This means that you can streamline order processing, creating less work for you, and less chance of anything being lost in translation.

Amazon

Amazon’s prices are comparable to Fulfillment.com’s with savings made if you’re selling through the site as well. The company has a lot of appeal simply being a hugely recognizable global brand (with 52 centers in the US alone). And as you would probably expect, this fulfillment service also integrates seamlessly with the Amazon store, where you’ll also get access to considerable discounts. That makes this a great choice for businesses looking to sell their products mainly through the eCommerce giant.

Even if you aren’t selling via the Amazon store, a very straightforward and automated process makes everything very easy. You’ll get an inventory sent directly, and all your products will be labeled automatically. Unfortunately though, Amazon’s fulfillment service doesn’t work with other eCommerce platforms.  

If you’re selling primarily through Amazon, this is a no brainer. Otherwise, you may want to consider other options.

fulfillment 3Shipwire

Shipwire is a little more expensive than the other two options on this list, depending on how you plan on using it. It also lacks some of the features offered by the other two, for instance, you’ll have to print labels yourself for larger shipments. What’s more, they also integrate well with other platforms just like Fulfillment and benefits from having 3 centers in the US.

Overall, most people will likely do better to choose either Amazon or Fulfillment.com for the majority of scenarios. Shipwire also has a fair few bad reviews on Yelp.com, giving them an overall score of 2.5 stars. That said, we can’t find Fulfillment.com on Yelp (or many customer reviews at all) and you should always take these scores with a pinch of salt.

Nevertheless, Shipwire doesn’t really stand out in any capacity. The only reason you might opt for Shipwire, is if you need support for a specific eCommerce service that the others don’t support, or if you’re near to one of their centers.

Of course, the best solution will vary greatly depending on the nature and size of shipments you expect to be making. Make sure to read the small print, to calculate all costs, and to read plenty of reviews before you make your mind up. There are far too many variables to definitively say which of the options will be best for any business. However, as a general rule, using Amazon is going to be best for any company that is selling through Amazon primarily. For larger companies not on Amazon, Fulfillment.com may be more affordable and offers more support for a range of eCommerce tools which is very useful. For those of you launching tech startups through Kickstarter or other crowdfunding sites, Rush Order seems tailor made for you and is definitely worth getting a quote from.
And if you do have any experience with these companies or any others, then we’d love to hear about it in the comments section below. Would you like to sign up for our newsletter to receive such updates on a regular basis?

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4 Responses to Comparison of 4 Fulfillment Service Companies for Hardware Startups

  1. As an update to the information above regarding Fulfillment.com (“FDC”), FDC’s three-year growth rate during the period 2012-2014 of more than 35,000 percent places FDC as America’s second-fastest-growing private company, according to Inc. Magazine.

    FDC ships millions of B2C and B2B orders annually to more than 150 countries around the world. Its distribution centers are the in United States (Savannah and Los Angeles), Canada, Europe and Mexico, and it has plans on the table to open in Australia and South Africa. FDC is able to economically deliver products to its client’s customers in China within five days from its portal in Oregon. FDC is even integrated with Amazon and eBay, enabling clients to market their products on both sites with FDC holding the inventory required to service customer orders transmitted from Amazon and eBay to FDC for fulfillment.

    FDC’s fulfillment service offering starts with fast and free integration with any of the world’s 43 most popular shopping carts/e-commerce platforms. Free standard merchandise receiving and put-away is a very popular feature with FDC’s clients. Other fulfillment services offered include automated order management, merchandise picking, packing, labeling, shipping and returns / reverse logistics. FDC offers economical storage rates and deep discounts on postage and freight achieved through FDC’s huge shipping volumes. Extra features included in FDC’s order management system include carrier tracking, customer address verification and order grouping. Unique differentiators provided include a world-class Internet “dashboard” and dedicated account executives.

  2. Matt Hall says:

    Thanks for the updated information!

  3. Thanks for publishing a photo of the US’ 4th busiest port (#2 for containers). But… could we get this photo of Savannah’s harbor adjacent to Fulfillment.com (Savannah is HQ) and away from Shipwire (Palo Alto, CA HQ)?

  4. Hyo says:

    Velocityship company have been incredibly supportive to my startup business and have done an outstanding job ensuring I understood how to use their software. They have always been very quick to provide assistance when I needed questions answered or didn’t have a clear understanding of something. Their integration with Shopify is particularly excellent, providing a completely seamless ordering and shipping process. I look forward to working and growing with them in the future!

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