Best Fulfilment Services for Startups in the UK (2021)
Find the right fulfilment service provider for your ecommerce business, and join the world’s most successful startups. Browse our top ten picks below!
If COVID-19 has shown us anything, it’s the importance of online selling.
And, with shops closed and bustling high streets nothing more than a distant memory, there’s never been a better time to future-proof (and pandemic-proof) your startup.
But to be effective, your ecommerce businesses will need more than just a reliable ecommerce platform, or a way of accepting card payments online. You’ll need to get the basics right – and that means staying on top of your order fulfilment.
Fulfilment is the process of picking, packaging, and shipping your stock out to the customer. And while a few businesses choose to keep it in-house, before long, you’ll want to think about saving time and money by outsourcing your ecommerce fulfilment needs to a third party logistics supplier (3PL).
But which 3PL providers are doing it best? And how do you know which company is the right fit for your business’ budget, order volume, and ambitions?
If you provide us with a few details about your business, we can match you with 3PL providers and price quotes that fit your business's unique requirements.
Or, read on to learn more about the UK's leading service providers and how to pick one. We’re breaking down the top ten ecommerce fulfilment services for small businesses. These businesses represent some of the lowest fees and most flexible deals for UK startups, and we’ve reviewed them all below.
A 99.9% accuracy rate, for one. A bespoke approach tailored to the needs of your business – that’s another. Oh, and you’ll also get simple, transparent pricing that happens to be the lowest in the industry:
- Subscriptions start at £10 for businesses that dispatch a maximum of 30 units per month, and cap at £150 per month for up to 5,000 units
- Individual item fees range from 92p to £7.45
Better still, Huboo will waive any and all storage fees for the first two months you’re with them. Even after that, you can rest easy knowing you won’t be paying through the nose – Huboo promises to tailor your ongoing fees to reflect the nature and volume of your products.
It may not boast the frills of Amazon FBA or the bells and whistles of Huboo, but Leicestershire-based BOXstation still ticks all the boxes for small businesses. Of course, it packs them too, and for cheap – BOXstation charges no minimum fees, and offers a flexible, pay-as-you-go service.
That means BOXstation is ideal for micro-businesses processing small sales volumes, while its lack of hidden costs, set up charges, and contracts make it a safe choice for the budget-conscious.
Well it’s cheap, for a start. myWarehouse promises no minimum fees, no hidden fees, no setup fees, and no exit fees… basically, no fees at all. Well, you will pay fulfilment costs, but these are some of the lowest around:
- Picking and packing costs £2.61 per order (+42p per additional item)
- Receiving your products costs 10p per item
- Packaging starts at 10p per order
Throw in same-day despatching and a unique 100% accuracy guarantee, and myWarehouse might just be your business’ ticket to the big leagues.
It makes sense to pick a 3PL provider that reflects your business’ priorities. Those looking for the basics will be well served by myWarehouse, while Amazon FBA offers the fastest shipping. If you’d prefer to put the environment first, though, then Green Fulfilment is for you.
Using only eco-friendly paper and recycling all plastics and cardboard, Green Fulfilment is a top choice for the modern, forward-thinking business.
Green Fulfilment also offers strong customer support, a wide range of software integrations (including Volusion and Vend), and an online portal to rival the best. Great for green businesses and green planets alike!
Are you already outsourcing your ecommerce fulfilment?
The world’s top online marketplace’s own ecommerce fulfilment solution is used by millions of sellers worldwide. And it’s no surprise – Amazon’s size and connections allow it to offer same-day delivery, with the shipping speeds to match.
Be warned, though, because whether Amazon FBA is right for you depends largely on what you’re selling… and how good you are at it.
Amazon FBA has high storage fees (between 39p and 91p per item), meaning it gets expensive, fast – particularly if you’re not moving stock on as quickly as you’d like to be. These costs are most noticeable during the winter months, when Amazon FBA hikes its prices.
What it boils down to is that Amazon FBA is excellent if you’re selling goods of a small size, but at high volume. And if this doesn’t sound like you, you should read on – there are still six ecommerce fulfilment providers to go!
Its 10pm delivery cut-offs are some of the latest in the industry, and it processes your orders on the weekend, too. Core Fulfilment also offers low, transparent rates, and even provides a handy cost calculator – so you know exactly what you’ll be eligible to pay, without even having to pick up the phone:
- Storage fees are £10.88 per pallet (1m³)
- Picking and packing fees start at £1.95 per single-item order (additional items cost 25p)
What’s more, its intuitive online reporting software integrates seamlessly with most shopping carts, including Magento, WooCommerce, and Shopify. What’s not to like?
When you’re based in the UK, it can be difficult expanding out to the US market. With customs fees, import fees, shipping costs, and the lengthy time it all takes, it can feel like it's not worth the hassle.
Unless, of course, you use ShipBob.
ShipBob dispatches your inventory from its US-based fulfilment centres. All you have to do is get your stock sent over there in bulk, and ShipBob does the rest – storing, packaging, and shipping your goods throughout the US.
With optimised routes and discounts on international shipping, ShipBob does more than just save you money. It takes the difficulty out of a complex logistical setup, and can help connect your products to millions of potential new customers.
If you’ve just started out selling on Amazon, Shopify, or eBay, but are set on steering clear of FBA, then Minatus is a good option for you.
Its pay-as-you-go pricing and lack of minimum inventory requirements are a breath of fresh air for small businesses, and it pulls all the sales channels you work with into a single place, for simplicity. You’ll also get 24/7 access to your stock from a live dashboard, which is surprisingly effective… if a little rough around the edges.
Its rates are affordable, too:
- Storage starts at £2.24 per cubic metre, per week
- Picking prices start from £1.28, with 44p per additional pick
And, if you do still want to use Amazon FBA, Minatus can help. The Wakefield-based company offers a pre-inspection and preparation service for products heading to an Amazon fulfilment centre, getting them packaged and labelled to meet FBA’s strict requirements.
Are you already outsourcing your ecommerce fulfilment?
It’s not easy to grow your ecommerce business without real-time insights into your sales and stock. How do you scale unless you know what’s selling, what’s flopping, and where there's most room for improvement?
The answer is, you don’t – and that’s where Cloud Fulfilment’s live fulfilment software
(pictured) comes in. With an end-to-end view of your orders, a customisable array of stock level movement reports, and simple returns handling, you can manage everything from your PC, laptop, or tablet.
It also helps that said interface is stunningly easy to use, and even easier to look at.
Add in dependable customer support and same-day dispatch, and you’ve got a fulfilment solution that’s far more silver lining than cloud.
Red Stag Fulfilment
Look hard enough at the fine print in any ecommerce fulfilment contract, and you’ll probably find the term ‘shrinkage allowance’. As a percentage, it’s how much of your stock a 3PL provider reserves the right to lose or break, and you’ll want this to be as low as possible.
With Red Stag Fulfilment, though, that isn’t an issue. There’s no shrinkage allowance at all, and customers that have switched to Red Stag report a 93% decrease in damaged or lost stock.
Factor in Red Stag’s commitment to same-day shipping, custom package designs, and its personalised, bespoke approach to fulfilment, and you’ve got a fulfilling solution for your small business.
Choosing the right fulfilment service for your startup
To choose the right provider for your business, you’ll need to consider several factors:
- Which sales channels do you currently sell on, and which ones would you like to add? If it’s a lot, you’ll need to pick a provider such as Core Fulfilment or Green Fulfilment
- What is your order volume, and what’s the average size of the items you stock? Amazon FBA is great for higher volume sales, while sellers with larger items should use Huboo.
- When do you need your service to be up and running by? Some providers take longer to get you set up than others, so this can make a big difference
- How much are you willing to spend? BOXstation and myWarehouse provide low-cost, flexible solutions, but offer limitations when it comes to scalability and software
- Where will you be selling? Minatus and Cloud Fulfilment are great for UK fulfilment, while Red Stag and ShipBob can help you get a foothold in the US market
- Who can help you find fulfilment services quotes tailored to your needs? We can.
Balancing all the aspects of the fulfilment equation isn’t an easy task. But it’s one we can certainly assist you with.
All you need to do is furnish us with a few details about your business. We’ll ask about your current sales volume, and the different channels you’re selling through. We’ll also need your postcode, to ensure we find you only the fulfilment services relevant to your startup’s location.
You’ll then receive order fulfilment services quotes from leading suppliers, who’ll help your ecommerce business come up with a plan that works for you.