This page provides considerations and best practices for selecting a cross-border ecommerce shipping fulfillment service provider.
Last Published: 12/6/2017

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Instead of shipping products yourself, you could pay a fulfillment service provider to ship and fulfill your orders for you. Paid fulfillment services (also called third-party logistics, or 3PL) may be something to consider because it will free your time from focusing on shipping and will allow you to concentrate on other areas of your digital strategy.

Shipping Fulfillment services typically work in four steps:

  1. You send your inventory to a fulfillment warehouse for storage.
  2. When a customer or business makes a purchase from your site, the fulfillment service is notified through your site.
  3. The fulfillment service then packs and ships your product to the buyer according to your specifications.
  4. The fulfillment service alerts you when it has completed the process and provides any pertinent details (tracking numbers, updated inventory counts, etc.). Each time an order is placed through your site, steps 2 to 4 are repeated. 
Most fulfillment services can be integrated into your ecommerce platform software so that an order is fulfilled and shipped with no effort by you.

 

Benefits of eCommerce Shipping Fulfillment Services

  • Automatic order fulfillment. You no longer have to worry about shipping and fulfillment. You’ll spend more time on running your business.

  • Cheaper shipping. Because of the large quantities that they ship, fulfillment services are often able to receive discounted shipping rates, which could save you or your buyer money.

  • Cheaper storage. In some cases, storing inventory with fulfillment providers could be cheaper than renting your own warehouse to store your products. Make sure to research storage and verify any price advantages, because this benefit is often geographically contingent.

  • Variable Storage. Fulfillment services are scalable, you are able to expand and contract space and labor as needed and on demand.

  • Additional services. Many fulfillment services offer product assembly and kitting, as well as many other services. 
     

What to Look For in aCommerce Shipping Fulfillment Service

The numerous fulfillment service issues to consider include these:

  • What are the monthly costs? Per shipment?

  • What size company does it cater to? 

  • Do the services obtain and compare shipping rates from various carriers via API?

  • How many fulfillment locations does the service have and where are they?

  • What is the return policy?

  • What is the error rate?

  • What ecommerce software platforms is the service able to integrate with?

  • Does the service have a drop-shipping application? 

  • Does the service have inventory management services?

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



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