List of the Best 3PL Companies
and Top Rated 3PL Services

The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best 3PL Company for Your Business

Find out all the pitfalls to avoid when searching for a 3PL company online - from how to identify bogus "top lists" to what to look for in choosing the right match. And get Free, unbiased matches from

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The Best Third-Party Logistics Companies List – It’s Not What You’re Expecting

It doesn’t take much effort to find “best 3PL companies” lists online these days. Pull up any search engine and type in your query. Within seconds, you’ll receive pages of results featuring the top 10, 50, or 100, third (3rd) party warehousing providers in the world. These lists, or 3PL directories, oftentimes use annual sales or profit margins, existing and biased relationships, or even “under the table agreements” to rank the companies and provide at least the illusion of a logistics company’s success. These lists are frequently intimidating and confusing to small or mid-sized businesses, since they appear trustworthy but are inherently biased and usually contain a list of companies that aren’t workable for various reasons. Furthermore, staring at financial statements doesn’t necessarily translate into being the best fit for your unique needs.

Business owners can find themselves going down a rabbit hole determining which companies on these lists offer the services they need. More importantly, they need 3PLs that fit within their budgets. Owners can waste hours researching only to discover none of the listed companies are a good fit.

The challenge in finding the best 3PL company is knowing which lists you can trust as a starting point for your search. Most lack objectivity because they’re sponsored or influenced by the companies featured. Most of these rankings focus on large, well-known providers, overlooking smaller boutique, specialized 3PLs that might fit your needs better.

Other issues may include:

  • Generic criteria that don’t align with your specific business needs or industry requirements.
  • Industry politics influence rankings instead of solid data.
  • Lack of customer feedback to provide social proof of the claims by companies on the lists.
  • Outdated information that doesn’t reflect the rapidly changing developments and performance requirements for the logistics industry.

Red Flags to Look For with List and Brokers

Warehousing and Fulfillment makes finding reputable 3PL companies a breeze with our guide on how to sort fact from fiction when encountering “top 3PL” lists. We offer one of the most comprehensive resources for 3PL services online by providing transparency into operations, costs, and performance metrics to determine whether a 3PL is the right fit.

Do the Best 3PL Companies Lists Truly Vet the 3PLs?

Most 3PL company lists are created with one thing in mind: profit. The organization or website compiling and presenting the list may operate with a bias towards certain companies, and they may even have something to gain financially from promoting select 3PL companies. Oftentimes, the third-party logistics companies on the list pay a fee to be placed on the list. Some third-party logistics providers rank well due to bias or other financial rewards for the organization making the list – not because they offer superior services.

The Money Factor

While this process, usually referred to as Sponsored Advertising or sponsored content, isn’t illegal, it definitely doesn’t guarantee that the members of the list are the “BEST”, nor does it guarantee that they will be the best company for your business.

3PL companies can rise in ranks through the amount of money they have to spend. The 3PLs within these lists typically have a large marketing budget or pay directly for the endorsement. This makes it more difficult for business owners to find a 3PL company that would truly benefit them.

The list’s goal isn’t necessarily to connect businesses of all sizes with logistics providers that are reputable and best suited for their requirements. Still, many businesses just starting with logistics don’t realize that there are other companies besides the ones prominently listed. They can make a costly mistake because they don’t know how to find a better fit for their needs and budgets.

It’s a good rule of thumb to approach these best 3PL companies lists cautiously. Not all of them are created with your best interests in mind.

Who are Included in the Top 3PL Lists and are They 3PL Companies?

We routinely search the web for 3PL and fulfillment companies and make it a regular habit to pour over all the top 3PL company lists to see who is mentioned and learn more and more about the industry we work in. Strangely enough, we view three common characteristics when viewing most of the outsourced logistics companies listed on the “top” website.

Self Promotion on Best 3PL Lists

First, it’s not uncommon for a 3PL company to create and publish a list of the top 3PLs on its website, which seems somewhat absurd, doesn’t it? When someone views a listing of recommended 3PLs, they assume it’s objective and based on solid research. However, a common tactic is to create the list, put your 3PL company at the top, and then round it out with a few other third-party logistics services. But the fun doesn’t stop there – a common tactic is not only to list themselves on their list of top third-party logistics companies, but on top of that the 3PL usually lists themselves as the number 1 option no less!

We at have a very dry sense of humor and are oftentimes told that we’re very sarcastic – so please excuse our ‘tongue in cheek’ tone on this topic. In all seriousness, many serious searchers for third-party logistics companies miss this vital “trick” that is being played on them – and our main concern is to point people in the right direction when making this extremely important decision.

So, when you’re looking at the top lists of logistics companies, be sure to make appropriate discounts for companies that publish their list and place themselves at the top of the list. Always check the source of the list to determine whether it’s biased. Be cautious of any 3PL that engages in this practice.

True 3PLs Aren’t Always Included on the “Best 3PL Companies” Lists

The second common trait of many of these lists is that the listed companies are not so much 3PL companies as they are fulfillment or pick and pack companies that focus almost exclusively on parcel and B2C shipping.

As explained in further detail in this article, 3rd party logistics companies occupy a much smaller percentage of the overall warehousing market, offering quite a bit more than a standard warehouse. Most notably, third-party logistics companies are experts in all things Logistics – AKA shipping. They specialize in helping companies ship their product to the warehouse using freight forwarding from overseas, or parcel, LTL (less-than-truckload), or FTL (full truckload) shipping.

They also specialize in outbound shipping of products to your customers, as they most frequently have strong capabilities in LTL and FTL outbound shipping, which often get shipped to business clients rather than directly to consumers. It’s a completely different type of service than a standard warehouse.

Common Companies Occupy Most of the Top 3PL Rankings

Third, many lists have a peculiarly common set of companies that seem to reside on most lists. This could only mean one of two things – either the companies are truly the best and deserve to be on most lists compiled on the web, or this common set of companies are expert internet marketers that work diligently on their company’s digital marketing and online visibility.

If, in fact, these common set of companies were truly deserving of the “top” distinction, then the information you find on them when searching for them individually would be telling – it would paint a picture of a company that, while not perfect, garners high reviews and marks from customers that have worked with them or are currently working with them.

On the other hand, if online reviews of these popular companies aren’t as favorable as one would suggest, it would certainly point to the notion that they are expert marketers and that the ”top” distinction isn’t necessarily earned through performance. If you notice a 3PL on one of these lists has mixed reviews, it may signal their appearance on the list had more to do with skilled marketers than performance.

Below are some of the findings when we searched each of these popular companies that appear on many lists. We’ll leave it up to you to decide whether they are legitimate top 3PLs or if they have a bigger part in their appearance on these lists than they would like you to know.

While not an exact science, a seemingly good baseline for a top company would at least be at the 4-star rating or better. Also, this list is not intended as a top outsourced logistics companies list, but rather a review of the list! In other words, these are not who we would recommend for you using our matching service – these are some objective thoughts on the most commonly listed companies on the top lists.


Shipbob is an example of a large company that has experienced significant growth (they’ve received a great deal of venture capital funding). They officially launched in 2014 and focus on businesses needing B2C logistics services, although they have recently started a B2B division.

Customer reviews are mixed on the company. Capterra shows a 3.7 out of 5 stars, with some customers complaining about overcharging, missing items, and poor customer service. Webretailer rated the company even lower at 2 out of 5 stars, citing numerous complaints about shipping errors. They didn’t fare much better on Yelp, scoring 2.1 out of 5 stars, with many reviewers calling them one of the least dependable 3PLs.

There have been some more recent negative reviews, so it’s at least worth digging in to speak with them further to gain more comfort moving forward.


As a company that has been around for quite some time, we expected to see many reviews for Shipwire, and we weren’t disappointed. However, the feelings weren’t warm and fuzzy when we uncovered a 2.2 rating from Trustpilot from 175 reviews (a great sample base), a 1.3-star rating from Capterra, and a 2.2 rating from G2. Customers claimed the 3PL was expensive and had a lot of hidden fees. Others noted it was mismanaged. These reviews, with their great sample size, make other review sites such as Ecommerce Platform (4 Star rating and a highly recommended company off of 1 review) and Gartner’s 3.5 Star rating off of 3 reviews seem underwhelming.

Granted, as a large organization that has been around for a long time, you would expect to see quite a few more negative reviews than most companies.

Red Stag

In our experience, Red Stag Fulfillment is one of the fulfillment companies on these lists that truly belongs to be included. They are an upstanding group of individuals and deliver a top-notch service. The only drawback is that they are extremely focused, which isn’t a knock on them but rather some simple guidance because they aren’t able to help everyone.

The 3PL specializes in higher-order volumes and prefers to work with companies that sell heavier products. As a smaller company, they don’t have a wealth of reviews. However, customers give them a 4.0 out of 5 stars on Google (based on 62 total reviews). The 9 reviewers on Webretailer rated them at 4.9 out of 5 stars.

Rakuten SL

Rakuten SL didn’t get the best reviews from customers. Established in 2001, the company originally was known as Webgistix and has a wide fulfillment network across the U.S.  Regarding reviews, Rakuten Super Logistics pulled 2.8 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot, out of 3 reviews listed. On Webretailer, they didn’t fair as well with a 2.5 out of 5-star rating, some of the ratings of which included terminology such as “The worst 3PL ever,” “do not work with RSL,” and “just stay away from RSL if you want to succeed in your business.” And Yelp reviews are even worse – totaling a 1.5-star rating out of 5 stars. One reviewer compared his experience with the 3PL to the Stephen King horror “Misery.”

What we know about Rakuten Super Logistics: From our experience, RSL loves working with large companies – those that send out tons of orders per month. This is a company that may not be the best fit if you don’t ship high volumes.


WhiteBox is an interesting inclusion on many of the top 3PL companies lists – interesting because they aren’t as popular as some of the big names in the industry and offer quite a few other services that fall outside of the scope of fulfillment – such as ecommerce software and Amazon agency management services.

The number of reviews online for WhiteBox is small, but they achieve a higher rating from these smaller quantity of reviews. Trustpilot rates them a 4.5 Star, G2 gives them a 5 Star (only 2 reviews though), and Yelp gives them a 2.5 Star.


Shipmonk is a newer fulfillment service that has grown immensely in the last few years, particularly though acquisition. With a Series A investment and growth equity totaling over $350 Million and a recent acquisition of Ruby Has Fulfillment, the company has a large footprint. In fact, the company currently has 11 locations in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe.

ShipMonk garnered 4.3 out of 5 stars from Trustpilot, with 348 total reviews. Shopify reviewers gave them a 4.5 (127 total reviews). Negative comments included complaints about customer service – an area where the company still has room for improvement.

How Can Help You Find a 3PL Vendor?

There are hundreds, even thousands, of 3PL providers operating in North America today and thousands operating around the world. Some specialize in select services, while others offer a long list of services and provide customized contracts to each of their clients. There are companies that specialize in certain types of goods or specific industries, and then there are global companies that can help businesses in any industry. This makes it difficult to find the providers that are well suited to your needs because there are far too many companies to thoroughly research and compare on your own.

That’s the reason was created. We have done exhaustive research into Fulfillment Services, Fulfillment Houses, and Fulfillment Companies so that we can quickly match customers like you with the third-party logistics providers best suited to their needs.

Our network of third-party providers is different from those long 3PL company lists featured through other websites because we research 3PLs of all shapes and sizes, and there’s one additional difference: we have thoroughly screened every provider in our network.

Unlike many 3PL company lists, we do not accept payment to include companies in our network. Any extensive advertising or potential marketing opportunities are not taken into consideration during our evaluations. Our completely unbiased screening process ensures that each 3PL company we list is assessed thoroughly. We also include many smaller 3PL companies that you won’t find on those top 100 or top 50 3PL companies lists.

You also receive our guidance and personal help to ensure the provider you choose is well-suited to your needs and budget, so contact us to begin the process of requesting quotes from multiple 3PL providers online. Don’t leave your logistics operations to chance!

Our Search for the Best Third-Party Logistics Companies Lists

Our search for the best third-party logistics companies is underway. While the “Top 100 3PL Company” lists highlight large-scale logistics companies, they might not always suit smaller to mid-sized businesses looking for outsourced fulfillment services.

Why our List is Different

Warehousing and Fulfillment focuses on identifying the top small to mid-sized 3PL and fulfillment companies. Our criterion for making the list includes:

  • Advanced technology and robust tech platforms supporting logistics.
  • High on-time shipping rates to demonstrate consistency and timely deliveries.
  • Low error rates with proven minimal mistakes in operations.
  • Strong customer service that guarantees exceptional client satisfaction.
  • We don’t accept everyone, and we don’t accept bribes or payments for being selected. It’s truly objective.

How We Determine Matches

Check out some of the 3PL companies who have already made our exclusive list.


Established 1966

WSI’s goal is to maximize efficiency and minimize costs. WSI has built its company on the foundation of reliability, and with 10 distribution centers and a large family of companies, WSI has created a reputation for dependable service and integrity.

FW Logistics

Established 1949

FW Warehousing is a mid-sized logistics service provider that is large enough to handle all business needs while still providing specialized services. Customer relationships are heavily emphasized with FW Warehousing to promote customer success. Their cost-effective and efficient operations target the business’ long-term goals without compromising quality.

MKM Distribution Services, Inc.

Established 1981

MKM Logistics is in Indianapolis, IN, an optimal location for nationwide distribution. MKM’s dedication to flexibility and customer communication guarantees your products will be handled and distributed according to your requirements. No matter the size of an organization, MKM will be able to handle your fulfillment and supply chain logistics to get your business running smoothly.


Established 2004

eShipping provides distribution chain management through all modes of transportation, optimized carrier rate programs, and data and financial visibility. Based in Kansas City, MO, eShipping has distribution centers in seven states and a wide array of transportation modes to ensure products are shipped efficiently. With their growth-focused philosophy, eShipping would be a great option for those looking to expand their business.

Expak Logistics

Established 1966

With small beginnings in Texas, Expak Logistics is a 3PL company that offers various delivery services, LTL services, and many other supply chain logistics services to accommodate your business. Expak Logistics’ emphasis on problem-solving and small businesses’ needs makes them an ample option for startups and smaller businesses.

These are just a few examples, which may or may not fit your specific needs. In order to get matched with your best 3PL companies for pricing, fill out our online form or call us today!

Are All 3PL Company Lists Useless?

Should you just assume that all 3PL provider lists are worthless and try to find other methods to identify third-party companies that meet your needs? Not necessarily. Some lists can provide value to any business in need of a third-party logistics provider. You can look at some of the larger companies to determine whether your business fits their services well, eliminating many companies from your list of possibilities.

If you’re new to the concept of logistics and aren’t sure what services a third-party logistics company can provide, browsing one of these long lists could also help you identify the wide range of services that are currently available to businesses of all sizes. By identifying services used by other companies, you can better understand how you may want to handle your growing logistic needs.

However, since most businesses find that the companies on these lists don’t fit their needs, we don’t recommend you spend much time searching them out or reading them. You may get some introductory information from select lists if you want to do your research, but 3PL networks like the one found at are a far better use of your time.

The biggest risk of relying too heavily on “best 3PL companies” lists is the potential for a mismatch. Many businesses find the companies on these lists don’t meet their specific needs. Spending too much time on them is not the best use of your resources.

What is a 3PL?

Some of the top 3PL lists found online don’t define third-party logistics correctly. That’s the first sign the list might be bogus.

As alluded to previously, one main challenge with “best 3PL company” listings is that they don’t properly classify 3PL companies. 3PL lists often include fulfillment companies in their rankings. Although 3PLs and fulfillment companies are somewhat similar, third-party logistics companies offer a wider range of services. By using 3PLs and fulfillment companies interchangeably, the company lists are marketing services that do not cover the entirety of what a business is looking for. If you’re new to business and the concept of using a 3PL service, you can easily get swept up in these lists if you lack a complete understanding of the process.

3PL stands for “third-party logistics.” A 3PL company provides logistics services to companies that do not have their own in-house logistics team. The 3PL company can handle storage & inventory management, transportation, and other logistical services for businesses. Some third-party logistics companies even offer complete supply chain management services.

What are 3PL Companies

Some of the services third-party logistics providers offer include:

  • Freight forwarding: Coordinating the shipment of goods across borders, dealing with customs, and ensuring compliance with regulations.
  • Inventory management: Tracking and managing stock levels for timely replenishment and accurate record-keeping.
  • Order fulfillment: Picking, packing, and shipping orders to customers efficiently.
  • Transportation: Moving goods from one location to another, domestically and internationally.
  • Value-added services: Packaging, labeling, assembly, and returns are additional services some 3PLs offer.
  • Warehousing: Storage solutions for products, often with options for climate control and enhanced security.

Third-party logistics is one of the most essential aspects of any business, but it’s also one of the most difficult to manage. Many companies find that they need outside help when they’re faced with an overwhelming amount of incoming orders or if they want to expand their operations without hiring more employees.

3PL companies can provide these services because they have experts who can handle every aspect of your shipping needs. They’ll be able to coordinate delivery schedules with multiple carriers and warehouses so that you don’t waste time or money on unnecessary trips around town. For more info on the definition, click here.

Using a 3PL reduces logistics costs by streamlining operations to improve delivery times and enhance overall supply chain efficiency. Reputable third-party logistics providers can quickly scale operations up or down to match business needs, making them ideal for growing companies or those with seasonal demand fluctuations.

3rd Party Shipping Companies

When we talk about true 3PL companies, we’re looking at the industry pros who provide more than shipping stuff out for your brand. They manage the entire freight show, both inbound and outbound.

Some of these companies own trucks and warehouses, making them an asset-based provider. Others are more like middlemen, with a Rolodex full of relationships with different carriers they turn to for transport. No matter which way you go, you’ll get far more services than what your typical fulfillment center offers, including:

  • Inbound freight, including container and air freight services (freight forwarding services)
  • Less-than-truckload (LTL) outbound shipping services
  • Full Truckload (FTL) outbound shipping services

Most 3PLs can adapt to whatever level of help you need, so don’t be afraid to ask. Maybe you just want them to handle one aspect of your shipping or the whole enchilada. Either way, 3PLs make your supply chain smoother, more visible, and ultimately, better-performing.

Outsourced 3PL logistics can work with transportation, global shipping, and information technology. On transportation, 3PLs can help with LTL or FTL, engaging carriers, or tracking insurance and freight payments. This can lower transportation costs and increase efficiency.

3PLs can also deal with customs, freight forwarding, and consolidations. Managing ecommerce and operations with outsourced logistics is often done through EDI, API, and cloud-based systems to further increase supply chain visibility.

How is a 3PL Different from a Fulfillment Company?

Getting started in e-commerce or expanding your business introduces the concept of 3PLs and fulfillment services. Both play a crucial role in getting your products to customers. However, they’re not the same. Understanding the difference between them helps with your business strategy planning.

Fulfillment companies typically focus on storing your inventory, processing orders, picking and packing items, shipping products to end customers, and handling returns. Think of them as the people who make sure your customers get what they ordered when they ordered it.

Here’s where the confusion comes in. A third-party logistics provider can do all those things as well. However, they offer a wider range of services that cover more of the supply chain:

  • Inbound logistics (getting your products from manufacturers or suppliers).
  • Freight forwarding (international shipping logistics).
  • Transportation management (including LTL and FTL shipping).
  • Supply chain strategy and consulting.
  • Advanced technology integration.
  • Customs brokerage.

3PLs and the Power of Reverse Logistics

Reverse logistics have taken the lead in the race to prove which 3PL services are among the best. Once discounted as the back half of the supply chain equation, the unique demands of Gen Z consumers have thrust it into the spotlight.

Now an integral component of B2B and B2C businesses, choosing a 3PL that prioritizes reverse logistics helps organizations improve the customer experience by boosting efficiency and lowering costs.

The annual Third-Party Logistics Study includes the following as part of reverse logistics:

  • Consumer and business returns
  • Product recalls
  • End-of-use returns
  • End-of-life returns
  • Reusable packaging and container returns

Data in the study reveals that diversity in the returns experience significantly impacts customer loyalty. Roughly 65% of consumer-focused shippers and 60% of business-exclusive shippers indicated the return expectations of their customers are increasing.

Consumers – particularly Gen Z – expect their online shopping experience to include options for buying and returning items anywhere, at any time. Quick and free delivery is trumped only by the desire for free and easy returns.

Why Businesses Use 3PLs

Choosing a 3PL provider that aligns with your business goals can reduce costs while improving logistics operations.

Smart business owners know they can gain a competitive edge by partnering with a reputable third-party logistics service. Companies of all sizes benefit from 3PL’s specialized expertise and advanced technology without the need for significant financial investments in infrastructure or personnel.

Besides cost reduction, some other reasons to use a 3PL include:

  • Compliance and regulations: 3PLs keep pace with the rapidly evolving shipping regulations and compliance issues in some regions to ensure you’re following the rules.
  • Geographic expansion: Third-party logistics services make it easier to enter new markets using their existing networks and infrastructure.
  • Improved efficiency: Specialized logistics providers optimize processes and systems, leading to faster and well-organized operations.
  • Scalability: 3PLs can easily adjust to fluctuations in demand (such as seasonal peaks), providing flexibility that can be difficult to achieve in-house.
  • Risk mitigation: Third-party logistics providers have contingency plans for supply chain disruptions.

Benefits of Using 3PL Fulfillment Companies

Third-party logistics companies offer a range of services that streamline supply chains, increase efficiency, and save valuable time and money. They also provide expertise in supply chain logistics, allowing your business to receive reliable assistance managing and distributing products.

True 3PLs provide the technology, facilities, and services you need for product distribution. They’re also proficient in international shipping and flexible technology, allowing for global growth.

If you’re not a logistics expert and still want to be successful in your business, consider hiring a third-party logistics company. They handle various aspects of the shipping process, including receiving goods from suppliers and delivering them to customers.

Benefits of 3PL Companies

Increased Speed

3PL companies provide faster delivery times for your products than you would get on your own. They have the resources and expertise to organize and manage large shipments, so you don’t have to worry about getting all your products out at once.

In addition, because they are experts in the field, they can help you optimize your product transportation processes, allowing you to reduce costs and increase efficiency across the board.

Shipping and Logistics System Connectivity

When you outsource your company’s shipping and logistics, you gain the advantage of a partner who can connect to your existing infrastructures. The 3PL provider can manage all aspects of your logistics seamlessly. They connect with your ERP software, POS system, sales channels, and other critical systems for daily operations.

Instead of worrying about infrastructure or software, you can focus on running your business. A 3PL company can automate processes like tracking inventory levels at each location and communicating with carriers to track shipment destinations. Leaving these tasks in their capable hands increases your efficiency, reduces waste and errors, and boosts your profitability.

Reduced Costs

The single greatest reason to consider working with third-party logistics providers is cost savings. By outsourcing with a 3PL company, you can achieve lower storage and fulfillment costs. Since 3PLs leverage the aggregate shipping volume of all clients, they can get lower shipping costs than what you could secure on your own.

Other ways they reduce costs:

  • Providing a single point of contact for all shipping needs: This drastically reduces the number of people involved in shipping, which saves time. An outsourced logistics company can also reduce costs by bundling shipping needs to make them more affordable.
  • Offering lower rates than traditional carriers: 3PLs can offer lower rates because they don’t have to worry about overhead costs, insurance, or hiring drivers and dispatchers. They can then pass these savings along to their customers, charging less for shipping services than if you used a traditional carrier.

Improved Customer Service

Many of the complaints about 3PLs involve lackluster customer service. Before you sign on the dotted line with a third-party logistics provider, verify they offer expertise in this area. A 3PL that prioritizes customer satisfaction can help you improve your services. They also have beneficial relationships with other companies.

You should communicate frequently with your 3PL provider. When there are problems or questions, they can get answers or find solutions quickly because they understand each aspect of the supply chain process and how to communicate across multiple steps if necessary.

Disadvantages of Using a 3PL Company

We’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss the disadvantages of using a third-party logistics provider. Yes, there are many advantages, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for every business.

One of the biggest drawbacks is losing personalized experience. You don’t know the individuals handling your products, so there is a certain level of disconnectedness, especially if the 3PL is lacking in communication.

Other cons include:

  • Loss of control: By outsourcing your logistics, you have less direct control over your business’s supply chain operations, which can lead to concerns about service quality and responsiveness.
  • Hidden fees: Some 3PL contracts contain additional costs or other hidden fees for services not covered in the initial agreement. Be sure to read the fine print.
  • Integration challenges: Integrating a 3PL’s systems with your existing technology can be complex and time-consuming, potentially leading to operational disruptions.
  • Risk to confidentiality: Sharing sensitive business information with a 3PL can pose risks to confidentiality and data security. Data breaches always pose a risk when external parties have access to critical business information.

The Challenge for Smaller Businesses and Startups Looking for 3PL Companies

Small to mid-sized businesses often cannot pay the fulfillment services prices demanded by global third-party companies earning billions of dollars each year, and many large logistics companies don’t want to work with smaller businesses unless they store and ship a substantial amount of merchandise each year. Some global companies also specialize in international shipping and storage, so small companies searching for outsourced logistics service providers in a localized geographical area won’t meet the requirements set out by those companies.

Third-Party Logistics Companies for Small Businesses Versus Large Businesses

3PL companies are not high-risk, high-reward ventures. They are extremely risk-averse. Consequently, if your business is still in its early stages of expansion, most 3PL companies may not be willing to partner with you or make a long-term commitment. Therefore, small businesses should begin searching for a US company as soon as they launch sales and products on the US market.

Generally speaking, you should initiate your search a few months after your US sales launch. At this point, most of your plan’s details, including precise inventory counts, arrival dates, item SKUs, etc., should be solidified, and your US-based website should be operational. When these conditions are met, we will be able to help you with the best 3PL providers for small businesses.

What Kinds of Businesses Use 3rd Party Logistics Companies?

3rd party logistics companies are used by businesses of all kinds, from small mom-and-pop shops to huge corporations. They provide various services and specialize in each phase of the supply chain, assisting businesses with everything from procurement and transportation to warehousing and delivery.

Some businesses use a 3PL company because they don’t have the resources or expertise to handle all aspects of their supply chain. Others use outsourced logistics companies to outsource certain tasks that they don’t need to do themselves and want done correctly.

How Much Do Third-Party Logistics Companies Cost?

Each 3PL company has different rates that they charge. The main 3PL costs you will encounter are initial setup, receiving, storage, fulfillment or “pick and pack”, and shipping.

Cost of 3PL Companies

The average setup fee is around $550, but if a provider focuses on helping smaller businesses, the lowest initial setup fee will be around $120-$150. This fee includes the cost to set up an account in the 3PLs system, integrate the customer’s online shopping cart with the warehouse, and establish a customer’s preferred procedures and processes. Essentially, what you pay is what you need to get started.

Receiving fees can vary based on what aspect of the product is being charged for. Receiving covers all tasks needed to unload and prepare products for future distribution. Fees run around $35-$45 per hour, but more fees can be added for extra services. Some 3PLs will charge per order ($30-$50 per order), per pallet ($4-$15), per item ($0.20-$0.25), per SKU ($2.50-$10.00), or per box ($2.90). Companies that charge per container have a receiving fee of $330 for a 20-foot container and $441 for a 40-foot container.

Storage fees are often done by pallet. This charge is based on how much storage space is utilized monthly and is influenced by location, volume, and special requirements. Each pallet has a storage fee of around $8-$40 for each pallet. Three other forms of charging for storage are per cubic footage ($0.45-$0.55), per bin ($4.07 per bin on average per month), and per square footage ($0.75 per square foot on average per month).

Fulfillment pricing varies depending on what 3PLs charge for product weight and materials. Outsourced warehousing fulfillment providers’ fees run up to $5 or more per package, and they average around $3.13 for a one-item B2C order and $4.27 for a B2B. In general, there is a per-order and per-item fee plus any additional material fees. A standard-sized box can range around $0.50-$1.15 if small. Insert fees of roughly $0.15 per order can also be distributed if an additional item—such as a coupon—is required within each order.

One of the largest fees is shipping charges. Shipping costs are based on the volume of packages. Extra fees could be applied if you are looking to ship through your company account, but for general ground shipping, companies may provide a 10-20% discount. Express shipments, however, allow for higher discounts of around 20-30%, and LTL and truckload shipments can warrant up to a 45-50% discount.

Around 93% of 3PLs offer a shipping discount with the Discount Off of Published Rates or the Cost Plus model. The Discount Off of Published Rates model gives a certain percentage discount off retail rates, and the Cost Plus model adds a percentage market up to the shipping cost.

How Businesses Find the Best 3PL Companies

How much weight do businesses put into these best 3PL companies lists? According to the experts we talked with, not much.

Ways to Search for 3PLs and warehouses

“Lists of the best 3PL companies may only tell you some of what you need to know,” said Eliot Vancil, CEO of Fuel Logic. “These lists often focus on significant companies and leave out smaller, more specialized 3PLs that might be better for your business.” Vancil cautions there are many choices besides the big players. He urges businesses to think about things besides a 3PL’s size and image “Don’t just look at the lists. Finding a 3PL that works with your business and meets your goals is the only way.”

Andrei Vasilescu, co-founder and CEO of DontPayFull, said choosing the best 3PL provider extends beyond generic rankings. “It’s essential to consider your business’s specific needs, such as industry expertise, flexibility, and scalability. Prioritizing personalized service can lead to significant benefits.” In his experience, Vasilescu said tailored solutions have increased operational efficiency by 20% and reduced shipping costs by 15%. “Look for 3PLs with a proven record of on-time delivery, as this boosts customer satisfaction and retention.”

Eli Itzhaki, CEO of Keyzoo, said when he was ready to partner with a 3PL, he started by asking for referrals from colleagues and industry friends. “I wanted to hear about their experiences – good and bad. I got a list of about 5 potential 3PLs, then I started digging deeper.”  He visited the websites of the 3PLs on his shortlist, read reviews, and checked their certifications. “I was looking for a partner that shared our values and had a proven track record of reliability and accuracy.” Itzhaki then asked for customized proposals from each, which he used to narrow his list down to two possibilities. During scheduled meetings with the two remaining options, he asked questions about contingency plans for natural disasters and how they handled inventory discrepancies. “The deciding factor was their willingness to adapt to our specific requirements,” Itzhaki said. “We have a lot of custom orders, and our products require special handling. It wasn’t just about warehousing and shipping; it was about finding a partner that cared about our customers as much as we do.”

Jen Seran, director of business operations at Stallion Express, advised businesses not to forget about the importance of customer service when choosing a 3PL. “A 3PL partner who is responsive and proactive can make all the difference in fixing problems and ensuring your customers get their goods on time.”

What to Look for in a 3PL Company

When choosing a 3PL company, the compatibility of your business with their services is the most important criterion. The technologies used by the 3PL, and their typical scale of operations must align with your organization’s pre-existing technology and business volumes for the best results. Prioritizing these two things helps the 3PL meet all your needs seamlessly.

A 3PL company’s previous performance and customer relations should also weigh heavily on your decision.

Like most business services, third-party logistics company outsourcing is risky. Here are the things we recommend you look for in a 3PL partner:

  • Customers and Referrals: A good outsourced logistics company will have a long list of customers and referrals from other businesses. This demonstrates that the company has been able to meet the needs of other companies and can provide a comprehensive service for your company as well.
  • Credentials: The company should have credentials from top-notch organizations such as DHL or FedEx. Without these credentials, the company may lack the experience or expertise to handle your fulfillment needs.
  • Reputation: A good reputation is important because it helps ensure you will receive quality service from the 3PL Company you choose. Look at reviews online, talk with people who have used this type of service before, and ask questions about their experiences so that you can learn how others feel about working with this company before committing resources to them.
  • Capabilities: Make sure the company can handle all aspects of your logistics needs, including storage, picking, or packing orders, shipping via air or ground transportation options, and processing returns or refunds if needed.
  • Pricing: The cost of your fulfillment service should be comparable to those offered by competitors. Paying too much or too little could create issues down the road.
  • Facilities: The facility where your goods will be stored and shipped from should be safe and secure, with good access for employees and customers.
  • Employees: Ensure that every employee you will be interfacing with is top-notch. They should be knowledgeable, helpful, and positive.
  • Location: Location can affect how quickly your goods arrive at their destination or how long they stay there. The company’s location must be best suited for inbound and outbound shipping.
  • Insurance: Success depends on choosing the right company. You want a company to care for of your products and protect against catastrophes.
  • Specialization of Goods Stored and Shipped: Make sure they have experience shipping your product type. For example, if your products are fragile or require special handling, ensure the shipper has experience.
  • Contract Terms: As with any business partnership, longevity is crucial. You want someone who will be around when things go wrong or need changing up.
  • Errors: When you’re working with a 3PL Company, errors can be costly. Ensure your 3PL company has a near error-free record and a good track record for fixing problems quickly and effectively.
  • Shipping Options: Some companies handle shipping, while others leave it up to you or require you to do some of it. Make sure your choice fits your business, so nothing gets missed.
  • Performance Metrics & Processes: A good third party logistics service will provide metrics and processes to track your operations. This includes shipping data, product images, and tracking info.
  • Financial Viability: 3rd party logistics shipping companies come and go like any other. Perform a financial viability analysis on your logistics partner to ensure its longevity. You can check the company’s credit or request financial data. Your main goal is to ensure they have a solid financial future.
  • Service Levels: The level of service you get from a fulfillment company depends on your deal size and provider. You’ll probably get good service if you have a lot of storage or orders. Smaller companies may need to search more strategically for an outsourced logistics service that offers the best service and pricing.
  • The volume of Orders and Storage: When choosing a fulfillment company, you must consider the size of your business and whether it makes sense to work with one. Some fulfillment companies limit volume and others have minimum order quantities. If you don’t sell many products, they may not want to work with you because it’s not profitable for them.
  • Size of the Products: Product size is another consideration when choosing a 3PL company. Some companies only handle small items. They may not want larger items. Others prefer larger items. Make sure the company you’re considering can handle large or small items.
  • Sales Channels: Whether the 3PL company offers direct-to-consumer fulfillment or serves businesses or employees through a store, find a company that can manage your sales channels.
  • Flexibility and Additional Services: Consider your requirements and decide what additional services you require and how adaptable the 3PL company must be. This ensures that you are working with a company that is aware of your requirements.

What to look for in the Best 3PL Fulfillment Companies

Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a 3PL Provider

Choosing the right 3PL company can be a challenge. You want to find a company that can meet your needs, but many factors must be considered. When choosing a 3PL, avoid these mistakes:

  • Price alone isn’t enough, and the cheapest option isn’t always the best. Consider the company’s service quality and ability to meet your needs. If you choose a company without industry or need-specific experience, they may not meet your needs.
  • Don’t focus on their marketing materials. Before making a decision, speak with representatives from each 3PL company to get a clear picture of what they offer and if it fits your business. Flashy marketing materials are one way companies try to stand out, but materials alone don’t reveal how well they operate or what kind of service they provide.

There are hundreds – even thousands – of 3PL providers operating in North America and around the world. Some specialize in select services, while others offer a long list of customizable options. Some cater to specific industries or goods, while others are global companies supporting businesses across all sectors. The sheer volume of options makes thorough research and comparison challenging.

You can use these top 3PL lists for introductory information, but we recommend a more targeted approach. The 3PL network at Warehousing and Fulfillment provide curated and relevant options tailored to your business needs.

We’ve done the hard work for you by:

  • Conducting exhaustive research: We’ve researched thoroughly to find the best match for your needs. We explored fulfillment services, fulfillment houses, and fulfillment companies so you don’t have to spend time in the trenches.
  • Compiling a unique 3PL network: Our network of 3PLs stands out from the lengthy 3PL lists you find on other websites. We know 3PLs are not a one-size-fits-all solution, so we’ve included 3PLs of all sizes.
  • Offering unbiased screening: Unlike many 3PL lists, we don’t accept payment for inclusion in our network. Our evaluations are unbiased, focusing solely on quality: We also feature many smaller 3PL companies that you won’t typically find on the top 100 or 150 lists.
  • Personalizing guidance: We provide personalized guidance to ensure the provider you choose is well-suited to your needs and budget.

Don’t leave your logistics operations to chance. Contact us to begin the process of requesting quotes from multiple 3PL providers online.

What’s the Best Location for a 3PL Company: Near Me or Somewhere Else?

The best location for a 3PL company is going to be different for every business. It’s important to understand the needs of your business, as well as your customer base.

Having a local third-party logistics company can be advantageous if the majority of your customers are nearby. In addition to the ability to pick up and deliver directly from the warehouse, there will also be cost savings.

The less your customers will pay for shipping, the closer you are to them.

Also, if you are the type that likes the thought of visiting your 3PL company, building a relationship with them, and holding them accountable, being in close proximity is best.

However, for most businesses, proximity isn’t a priority. Especially if your customer base is dispersed across the country or even the globe, it may be more efficient to use an international 3PL company. Having fewer stops along the way and reducing travel time will have a smaller impact on shipping costs than shipping through multiple facilities around the world.

Top Locations for 3PL Companies in the US

The United States is a great place to be a 3PL company. It offers a diverse range of states and locations, each of which has its unique features. American 3rd party logistics companies are some of the most popular 3PLs in the entire world, but there’s a lot of planning involved in selecting logistics companies in the USA. Below are the top locations in the US for 3PL Companies:

  • South California is an ideal location for 3PL companies because it has a large population of blue-collar workers who need to be transported to and from their jobs each day. The area also has a high demand for transportation services due to its proximity to Mexico and other countries with which it shares borders.
  • New Jersey is another great location for 3PL companies because of its proximity to New York City. This allows many opportunities to transport goods between New Jersey and New York via rail or truck
  • Dallas, Texas, offers unique benefits as well. It is home to several major shipping ports, which serve as a gateway for goods coming in from other countries. Additionally, Dallas has strong ties with Mexico, which makes it an ideal place for transporting goods between the two countries.

Top Locations for 3PL Companies in Canada

If you’re looking for a 3PL company in Canada, you may wonder where to begin. When choosing a business location, you should consider the cost of living, available workforce, and proximity to major transportation hubs. Here are the top locations in Canada for 3PL Companies:

Toronto is a great place for outsourced 3PL services, thanks to its diverse population and growing economy. It’s also the center of Canada’s financial sector, so there’s plenty of potential for growth in that area as well.

Mississauga is among the fastest-growing cities in Canada and is located just outside of Toronto. Its proximity to Toronto makes it an ideal location for 3PL companies looking to expand their operations into the Canadian market. Hamilton is another major economic hub in Ontario and has seen much growth lately, thanks to its location between Toronto and Niagara Falls.

Outside of the Greater Toronto area, Vancouver offers Canada’s second most popular 3PL company location because of its port location for inbound shipping from the manufacturing-heavy Far East. The greater Vancouver area is also a large population center in Canada. Another popular option for 3PL companies is Montreal, Canada. For eastern Canada, Montreal is a good option.

Find the Best 3PL Companies in the US and Canada

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FAQs About the Best 3PL Companies

Is a 3PL Company Profitable?

A 3PL company can be highly profitable for both the provider and its clients. For businesses, outsourcing logistics to a 3PL can lead to cost savings, improved efficiency, and the ability to scale operations without heavy infrastructure investments. For the 3PL provider, profitability comes from leveraging economies of scale, improving logistics networks, and offering value-added services that attract and retain clients.

How do 3PL Companies Handle Logistics for E-commerce Businesses?

3PL warehouse companies manage e-commerce logistics by offering comprehensive services like order fulfillment, inventory management, returns processing, and shipping. They use advanced technology such as applying AI in logistics to ensure real-time tracking and efficient handling of products from the warehouse to the customer. 3PLs allow e-commerce businesses to focus on sales, marketing, and customer service. This allows businesses to enhance their customer experience when 3PL companies take over these crucial logistics tasks.

Is Amazon Using 3PL?

Amazon occasionally uses third-party logistics (3PL) providers to complement its wide logistics network. While Amazon has built a strong system of warehouses, transportation, and delivery services, partnering with 3PLs allows them to handle surges in demand, enter new markets, and manage specific logistics needs more efficiently.

What Should I Look For In A 3PL Company’s Customer Service?

Look for responsiveness and reliability as top priorities. Ensure they have clear and open communication channels, offering timely updates and solutions to any issues that arise. Experienced and knowledgeable staff are crucial, as they can handle complex logistics problems efficiently. You should also check for a solid track record of meeting client needs to ensure they can support your business effectively.

How Does Pricing Typically Work for 3PL Services?

Pricing for 3PL services depends on the type and volumes of goods, required services, storage needs, and transportation costs. The best 3PL companies provide detailed quotes that break down these costs, allowing you to see where your money is going. Some may charge a flat rate, while others use a variable pricing model based on your needs and the complexity of your operations.

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