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  1. You have to pay someone to do this: These costs represent facility, staff ― including your time ― and other overhead expenses that you’d incur running an in-house operation.

  2. You get lower shipping rates: Fulfillment companies get lower rates than small shippers and generally pass on the savings to clients.

  3. You can focus on growth: Your time can be spent growing your business, not packing orders and managing shipments and staff.

  4. Fulfillment services Scale to meet demand: Fulfillment services allocate staff and space as needed, so you never pay for staff and storage space that you’re not using.

Inventory receiving costs

Before a 3PL can start fulfilling orders from your online store, they need to receive your inventory to their fulfillment warehouse. In logistics, receiving refers to the acceptance and storage of incoming inventory. Different 3PLs charge for receiving in different ways, including per-unit, per-pallet, flat rates, or per-hour. 

Inventory storage costs

When you store your inventory at a 3PL’s fulfillment center, you will be charged for storage space. Warehousing fees can range from per-SKU or per-unit storage to a fixed fee for each bin, shelf, or pallet used. 

We charge for warehousing on a per-shelf, bin, and pallet basis, so you only pay for the space you use on a monthly basis or project basis. 

Order pick and pack costs

Some 3PL models include pick and pack pricing. Once your customer places an order, the fulfillment process begins with picking, or collecting each ordered item from its designated storage location using a picking list. Many fulfillment providers charge on a per-pick basis, meaning you pay a fee for each item included in an order. 

Packaging costs

Your packaging is often a customer’s first in-person impression of your brand. Some 3PLs will charge for packing materials such as boxes and airfill, as a separate line item, while others include them as part of their fulfillment services. 

For example, plain, standard packing materials — brown boxes, yellow bubble mailers, white poly bags, packing tape, and airfill — are included at no extra cost. Merchants can use custom branded packing materials at an additional cost.

Kitting costs

Some 3PLs offer kitting and assembly services. Kitting refers to any unique accommodations for the way in which items are assembled, arranged, or packed before shipping. Common applications for kitting include assembling multiple SKUs or preparing inventory in a particular way during the packing process. Because this service is so specific to each individual client, kitting fees can vary. 

Shipping costs

Finally, ecommerce shipping costs: the amount a 3PL charges to ship an order from their fulfillment center to your customer’s doorstep. Many 3PLs have relationships with major shipping carriers that allow them to pass volume discounts onto their clients. Shipping costs take a variety of factors into account, including shipping speed (such as 2-day shipping), shipping zones, and dimensional weight.

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