3PL companies also known as third-party logistics companies transformed the way we ship goods around the world. Instead of relying on our own fleet for deliveries, you can now pay on the go for the service required.
Today, the 3PL industry has grown to more than $8.6 trillion industry and is poised to give steady growth in the coming future. However, choosing the best service providers that the ecommerce merchants can rely on logistics is tough and involves a lot of factors.
Moreover, you need to consider the features offered by the logistics software used by these firms for smooth integrations with your operations.
So in this guide, I have ranked and reviewed the best 3PL companies based on service, pricing, support, integration, order fulfillment, and more.
So let’s get started.
What are the Best 3PL companies?
Here is my list of the best 3PL companies to use this year.
FedEx which is Federal Express establishes its operation in 1973. Since then, FedEx has been a leader in the field of the transportation industry. FedEx has been providing rapid, reliable, and time-definite delivery to a number of countries. According to the research, FedEx has been providing this service to more than 220 countries.
Moreover, FedEx has been aiming for connecting with maximum people, technologies, ideas, goods, services, and much more. FedEx ensures to promotes safety and quality deliveries. It not only manages a lot of deliveries, but also helps create jobs, grow small businesses, and invest in the community.
In 2009, FedEx Express becomes the first US-based airline to own a Boeing 777 Freighter which is the world’s largest twin-engine cargo aircraft. Furthermore, FedEx introduces the first all-electric trucks to be used in the delivery of parcels in the U.S. In 2019, FedEx collaborates with Wing Aviation LLC, in which FedEx launches its first drone delivery service.
- Customized shipping information – This feature allows you to check your shipping services based on your location.
- Generates activity reports – The software displays daily shipping activities which includes transaction at the end of the day, courier, invoice of the customer, and shipment details.
- Shipping labels – It generates labels for international shipments like U.S. domestic as well as export, Mexico, and other international shipments.
- Quick Cancellation – The scheduled shipments can be easily canceled.
- Multiple Shipments – Manages the multiple shipments together by grouping them that are assigned to a single location and thus providing the lowest rate.
- The options like standard and discount packages help you choose by showing shipping charges.
- FedEx serves globally so you can ship to any FedEx-served location to your chosen destination. They also provide a reliable and fast return service for international shipping.
- FedEx provides a variety of tracking options which also have FedEx ShipAlert along with it that notifies about pickups, deliveries, and any exceptional cases.
- You are allowed to view your detailed documentation of description of all your transactions and know more about shipments and shipping activities through the daily reports.
FedEx provides two plans namely personal and business. Opening an account would benefit you in several ways like you can have your personalized rates based on your shipping volumes, discounts that can apply based on your shipment, and you can manage your own pickups, and schedule them online, they also provide free supplies, 40% off list rates when you register for your account online only with your credit card. Currently, they provide savings of up to 50% on signing up.
ShipBob is a 3PL provider that fulfills e-commerce orders for direct-to-consumer companies. ShipBob works with an online store and delivers to your customer’s door. Firstly, it connects with your store and collects your products or goods, and sends them to the store at ShipBob.
It stores your inventory with any combination of its centers. After that, as soon as an order is placed from the customer, ShipBob ships it from the nearest fulfillment center.
ShipBob doesn’t just pick, pack and ship but is also integrated with distributed inventory, warehousing, bundling, analytical tools, returns management, custom packaging, integrations with e-commerce platforms, and much more. ShipBob also has a 2-day express shipping feature.
- Same-day shipping – ShipBob offers a feature of same-day shipping which can be very useful for urgent deliveries
- Delivery management – ShipBob manages its deliveries by automatically assigning the nearest fulfillment centers to send the delivery to your destined location.
- International shipping – ShipBob also provides a reliable international shipping option for businesses that need to export their inventories.
- Distributed inventories – To reduce the time of shipment and cost of shipping, your inventories are distributed by ShipBob to their fulfillment centers in order to make the process efficient.
- ShipBob provides software with a dashboard that displays your inventory across different centers. ShipBob helps you split your inventory effectively based on the demands. It will select the most suitable warehouse automatically and also choose the delivery carrier that will deliver in the shortest turnaround time and that too with the best price.
- This platform will allow you to manage and track your orders from the time the customer checks out until they get their product delivered. You can have a clear idea by viewing and filtering your orders by various parameters like location, status, and many more.
- There are options ShipBob provides to integrate the software with platforms such as eBay, Amazon, Shopify, etc. This helps you in importing orders and gathering and sending information from various platforms.
The flat rate is $25 for the first two hours and $40/man hour after that. Storage, Monthly charge are $40 per pallet/month, $10 per shelf/month, $5 per bin/month. A pick and pack service is also available, which is included in the cost. It is free for the first four picks, then the price is $0.20 per pick for the fifth pick. The shipping varies specifically to the order based on destination, weight, dimensions, shipping service, and more.
3. C.H. Robinson
C.H. Robinson provides simple as well as complex shipment options to make your operations run seamlessly. It allows you to manage your freight and logistic expenses. The transportation management system of C.H. Robinson allows you to connect, automate and optimize your shipments. It helps to get a clear idea of end-to-end shipment activity.
Freight services of C.H. Robinson include Air Freight, Flatbed, Intermodal, Ocean shipping, Rail shipping, Truckload, Less than truckload, small parcelled, temperature controlled, and many more. C.H. Robinson serves in logistics in the locations of Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, South Asia, and Oceania.
Moreover, C.H. Robinson allows you for shipments across the borders with confidence and with fewer disruptions. The team of C.H. Robinson has an expert team the full knowledge of the traffic flow, processes, and regulations at each crossing.
- Bulk and tanker facilities – C.H. Robinson provides a facility to transport your liquids and dry bulk materials safely across to your destination with modern tanker trucks. They assign dedicated drivers that are trained to transport your inventory with extra care.
- Rail shipping – C.H. Robinson provides rail shipping between all the major parts of Europe and China. It is said to be a reliable and sustainable mode of transportation as it is more cost-effective and faster than ocean service.
- Intermodal – Intermodal provides opportunities for shippers to improve the supply chain. It gives you the advantage of getting the solution you will need in the market through their railroad relationships.
- C.H. Robinson provides expert consultation and helps in solving problems to get better results in implementations.
- This helps you with achieving cost efficiency and excellence in operation. This feature is available throughout Asia. It incorporates an inventory management system and customs services in a single and powerful supply chain solution.
- Provides tailored last-mile options like store distribution, fulfillment, home delivery, and final mile delivery.
The pricing plan of C.H. Robinson is available on request.
4. DHL Supply Chain
DHL Supply Chain is said to be the world’s leading contract logistics provider. It combines management services and value-added services with distribution, and integrated logistics that increase efficiency improvises quality, and create an advantage competitively.
Presently, there are 55+ countries/territories having DHL supply chains operating. They have 1400 warehouses and offices to work in with 146,000+ employees for the supply chain. DHL Supply Chain provides various solutions like Warehousing solutions, transport solutions, management services, integrated solutions, and additional services.
They work in various sectors like Consumer, Auto-mobility, Energy and chemicals, Engineering and manufacturing, life science and healthcare, retail, and technology. You would want to choose DHL Supply Chain when you need a reliable logistics partner who supports you excellently whenever you need it. It should have a piece of deep knowledge about your market and also its dynamics.
- DHL Lead Logistics Partner – It helps you minimize operational risks and provide analytical tools. Also, it provides supplier oversights and benefits from supply chain knowledge with experts.
- DHL inbound to manufacturing – It includes vendor-managed inventory. It helps in the optimization of inventory and also smoothing and synchronization.
- DHL service logistics – It provides you with a service of delivering spare parts and on-site and return-to-base repairs.
- DHL Indirect Materials Management (MRO) – It provides MRO supply chain planning and controlling.
- They provide DHL fulfillment which refers to order creation, warehousing, and shipping. It provides a range of B2B and B2C warehousing services. It also manages seamless logistics.
- DHL enviro solutions increase sustainability by recycling and managing waste, product disposal, and understanding producer responsibility.
- It provides services for passenger-based businesses. It includes food and trolley preparation, storage, global distribution, inbound handling, etc.
The pricing of the DHL Supply Chain is available on request.
So now let’s cover some basics.
What are 3PL Companies?
3PL companies are nothing but third-party logistics companies that offer services to manage your eCommerce supply chain. No matter what size your business is, you can leverage global 3PL companies to save time, reduce costs, expand shipping capabilities, and improve operational efficiencies.
Moreover, they are flexible and scalable which means that you can downsize or increase the requirements on the go. Also, they cater to individual and household businesses to ship products globally at a reasonable price.
Overall, 3PL companies basically take the upfront infrastructure cost you would have to otherwise invest in logistics.
What Features do you need to look for in a 3PL Company?
Here are some of the standard features you should look for in a 3PL provider before subscribing to any of their plans.
1. Multiple Transport Solution
The platform provided by the 3PL company should be able to leverage multiple transport solutions, that includes ocean, road, and air to optimize costs. Moreover, they should ensure on-time deliveries of the shipment on the exact estimated date provided on the platform.
2. Tracking and Analytics
Real-time tracking and analysis of the packages will ensure the support team handles customer queries more efficiently. Additionally, it helps your business to take more data-driven decisions based on the requirement fulfillment time.
The platform should offer flexibility to increase or decrease the logistics requirements by changing the opted plan. Moreover, it should also adjust the cost accordingly if there are any refunds or unused deliveries.
4. Customs and Return Policy
The 3PL companies should provide strict compliance and solutions for customs to ensure safe cross-border deliveries. Moreover, they should also provide reverse logistics in case of any returns or refunds.
Best 3PL Companies – Final Summary
This wraps up my list of the best 3PL companies to use this year. I will keep updating the list with other 3PL providers available in the market.
Remember that no matter what you are selling via an eCommerce platform, be it an electronics item, fashion, healthcare product, etc you should rely on hiring 3PL companies. However, it is essential to choose a reliable 3PL company that offers an amazing customer experience and helps you retain customers.
There are times that you will have different requirements for different products such for heavy goods you might require DHL Supply Chain but for light goods, you can rely on ShipBob. Finally, thoroughly research all the 3PL companies in the list and then choose which one aligns with your business requirements.
Which one of the 3PL companies are you planning to use? Let me know in the comment section below.
More from Smashitbuck: Do check out my other articles on the WordPress blog themes, knowledge repository software, and website ranking checker to read this year.