Behind every package that arrives on a customer’s doorstep is a trustworthy logistics company (or several) that partner with companies to support their ecommerce supply chain.
From receiving and storing inventory to shipping orders, fast-growing ecommerce brands partner with leading logistics companies to help manage the movement of ecommerce inventory to make sure orders are delivered quickly and safely, and at the most affordable rate.
In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the best players in ecommerce logistics, what distinguishes them from their competitors, and the key features you should look for in your next logistics partner.
Modern logistics companies: Partners for businesses
To help better support the growth of ecommerce, logistics companies have evolved from mere last-mile delivery solutions to becoming holistic supply chain management partners, especially third-party logistics (3PL) companies. Outsourcing logistics to a 3PL allows ecommerce businesses to automate order fulfillment, with services including warehousing, inventory and order management, shipping solutions, and even international fulfillment expertise.
As logistics companies have evolved, so have customers’ expectations and needs. Today’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands rely on tech-enabled 3PLs (or even a 4PL that manages the entire supply chain) to provide quick, reliable, and accurate ecommerce fulfillment and shipping solutions to compete online with established brands and marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart.
What truly differentiates a top logistics company from others is its approach to support ecommerce businesses of all sizes. Business owners need the best logistics partners that will go above and beyond to meet and exceed the business’s needs. A good logistics company will provide you with the services you need to manage your supply chain, but the best logistics companies will help you find ways to optimize and improve.
What makes a top logistics company?
Many of the best logistics companies share several key characteristics that you should always look for. Here are the four must-haves when sourcing the right logistics company to partner with.
Offer reliable tracking
The supply chain has many moving parts, and the best logistics companies track every movement so you know what’s happening every step of the way. Tech-enabled logistics companies are equipped with inventory tracking systems and should provide you with the ability to view inventory levels and order status from multiple channels in real-time. That way, you know how much inventory you have stored in which fulfillment locations, and which orders are being processed, are delayed, or have shipped at any time.
Speed up transportation for greater efficiencies
Top logistics companies are all about improving efficiencies and are dedicated to transporting packages in the most reliable, cost-effective way possible. The right logistics company should have technology in place that identifies the best route for shipping orders based on the destination and where inventory is stored. This helps to reduce shipping costs and transit times, which ultimately improves customer loyalty.
Use leading technologies
The best logistics companies use leading technologies to automate time-consuming and tedious tasks throughout the supply chain and reduce manual work. Ideally, a logistics company’s technology should integrate easily with your existing tech stack, providing you with full visibility and the ability to track everything in one place.
Offer world-class customer support
One of the essentials for any top logistics company is customer support that a business owner can rely on. Top logistics companies go to great lengths to keep their clients in the loop throughout every step of the logistical journey.
Best logistics companies for 2020
While no two logistics companies are the same (and not every logistics company offers every service), these eight top logistics companies lead the industry with top solutions for ecommerce businesses. Here’s our list of the top logistics companies you should consider when outsourcing logistics, most of which complement one another.
Key Features and Capabilities
|ShipBob||A tech-enabled 3PL
|Flexport||Digital freight forwarder
|UPS||Multinational shipping carrier and package delivery company
|FedEx||Multinational shipping carrier and package delivery company
|DHL||Global shipping carrier and package delivery company
|Echo Global Logistics||Transportation and supply chain management services
|C.H. Robinson||Multimodal transportation services and third-party logistics
|XPO Logistics||Multinational transportation and contract logistics company
ShipBob is a 3PL that offers Amazon-like logistics with a robust international fulfillment network across the US, Canada, and Europe powered by best-in-class proprietary fulfillment software. With ShipBob, ecommerce brands of all sizes can tap into the retail fulfillment infrastructure needed to stay competitive.
ShipBob takes care of the order fulfillment process for you, offering an end-to-end ecommerce solution with built-in inventory management software, order management, fulfillment analytics and reporting, and more. As a tech-enabled 3PL, ecommerce brands can easily integrate ShipBob’s technology with major ecommerce platforms and marketplaces, or utilize ShipBob’s Developer API for a more robust solution.
ShipBob partners with brands to help reduce shipping costs and transit times with solutions such as 2-day shipping via ground and distributed inventory (i.e., the ability to split inventory across multiple fulfillment centers).
“From expanding into a second ShipBob fulfillment center, we are excited to be able to offer 65% of our customers with 2-day shipping, up from 32% by only having a single West Coast facility. Soon, this will be 100%. Not only is this better for our customers but we also gain a 13% savings to our bottom line. Speed is important to our customers.”
Pablo Gabatto, Business Operations Manager at Ample Foods
Flexport is a digital freight forwarding company that prides itself on providing partners deep visibility and control of their supply chain at a consistently lower cost. They offer ocean freight, air freight, and trucking transportation, and connect every party involved in global trade (importers, exporters, carriers, customs agencies, etc.) through a cloud-based software program that holds infrastructure, communication, and data analytics in one easy place.
Flexport strives to connect its partners with human insight whenever possible through its “squad” model of customer service by assigning you to your own team of operations, customs, and data experts.
UPS is the world’s largest multinational shipping carrier and package delivery company. While it is most commonly known to deliver packages for anyone, UPS also offers a remarkable array of logistics services for ecommerce brands, including basic warehousing, reverse logistics, freight shipping, and much more.
UPS value-added services include product customization, custom packaging, and retail quality checks on a large scale. UPS also works with ecommerce brands to tackle complex processes such as shipping insurance and customs management in-house, making it an easy, one-stop shop.
FedEx is another multinational shipping carrier and package delivery company. As one of UPS’s top competitors, FedEx offers an almost identical set of logistics services. In addition to regular postal deliveries, FedEx can handle a business’s warehousing and distribution needs, reverse logistics, and freight forwarding, enabled by a supply chain technology that combines a warehouse management system (WMS) with real-time tracking software.
Like UPS, FedEx also offers value-added services in addition to the standard suite, setting it apart from smaller distribution logistics companies. But while UPS tends to specialize in domestic ground delivery services, FedEx is more known for expedited shipping.
DHL is slightly less well-known in North America but is still a top global logistics company servicing over 220 countries and territories. DHL provides solutions for a wide range of logistical needs, including warehousing, transportation, supply chain management, and integration, to specialized services, such as cross-docking and temperature-controlled storage.
If your business is located outside of the US or you ship to customers who are overseas, then DHL’s simple and affordable cross-border shipping is a great solution. They offer customs services and consulting available to help ecommerce business owners navigate the complexities of international shipping.
6. Echo Global Logistics
Echo Global Logistics is a full-service third-party logistics service provider that specializes in connecting businesses with carriers that transport products safely and cost-efficiently. Echo offers freight brokerage and managed transportation solutions, including truckload, partial truckload, LTL, intermodal, and expedited.
Echo maintains a proprietary, web-based technology platform that compiles and analyzes data from their network of over 50,000 transportation providers to serve 35,000 clients across a wide range of industries and simplify the critical tasks involved in transportation management.
7. C.H. Robinson
C.H. Robinson is a multimodal transportation services and third-party logistics company that handles 18 million shipments and $20 billion in freight annually. It offers a variety of services, including truckload and LTL freight options shipping, ocean, air, and intermodal freight, customs brokerage, and trade compliance services.
To help businesses optimize their logistics process, C.H. Robinson also offers their partners consulting services that can help them re-engineer their supply chain.
8. XPO Logistics
XPO Logistics is the second-largest contract logistics provider in the world, providing transport services for truckload, LTL freight, last-mile delivery services, and global forwarding, as well as both inbound and outbound logistics services. XPO Logistics is committed to serving a variety of industries with multimodal freight forwarding solutions and an integrated tech platform.
For XPO, technology is a priority. They have invested millions of dollars into developing technological solutions that are highly customized, and that utilize AI and machine learning to continually improve. XPO integrates robots and automated sortation systems to speed goods through the supply chain, increasing warehouse productivity.
To help ecommerce businesses stay competitive and be more successful online, the best logistics companies are continuously looking for ways to improve and provide a best-in-class solution. There are several options on the market, so make sure to take the time to compare services and technology before choosing a logistics company to partner with. The right logistics partner will be willing to go above and beyond to help you succeed online.
To learn more about how to find the right fulfillment logistics solution, download ShipBob’s guide: How to Choose a 3PL for Your Ecommerce Business.
“A lot of entrepreneurs and companies underestimate the cost-savings and power of choosing your entire supply chain and partner network wisely. These choices will make or break your business.”
Courtney Lee, founder of Prymal
ShipBob provides scalable logistics and fulfillment for ecommerce businesses of all sizes. Click the button below to request pricing.
Top logistics companies FAQs
Distinguishing a good logistics company from one that’s best-in-class can be a time-consuming process. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about finding the best logistics companies to help simplify your search.
What is the best logistics company?
The best logistics company for your business will not only provide comprehensive warehousing, fulfillment, and shipping services supported by real-time tracking technology but will also partner with customers to go above and beyond to meet and exceed expectations. For instance, ShipBob can work with you to decide on the best fulfillment center locations to store inventory based on where your customers are located through a data analysis and on-going once you are a customer, which can help you cut down on your delivery times and shipping costs.
What makes a good fulfillment logistics company?
- Offer a standard suite of services, including warehousing, order fulfillment, shipping, and others.
- Have an intuitive technology platform that provides visibility and real-time updates on inventory movement and order status.
- Quickly fulfills and ships orders safely and accurately to customers.