3PL Software Guide
Whether you’re a direct-to-consumer brand or work in the B2B ecommerce space, having an optimised order fulfilment process to stay ahead of the competition is critical.
A third-party logistics (3PL) software solution automates the fulfilment process so online businesses can offer a memorable customer experience while saving time and money in the long run.
Read on to learn how a 3PL software works, what to look for in a 3PL’s software, and why ShipBob continues to lead with a best-in-class fulfilment solution.
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What is 3PL software?
The term 3PL software refers to the technology a 3PL provides merchants. 3PL software allows online businesses to outsource fulfilment while maintaining control over their logistics operations.
It is often the software that a 3PL uses within its fulfilment centres, such as a warehouse management system (WMS). This enables smart warehousing capabilities so brands can track receiving, fulfilment, and shipping in real time.
3PL software helps manage and automate the fulfilment process in real time so merchants can distribute inventory, sell on multiple channels, and track fulfilment and shipping performance all from one dashboard.
What to look for in 3PL software
3PL software comes in many shapes and forms, ranging from a very limited portal, to comprehensive technology that spans across many facets of commerce.
Ultimately, 3PL software should help give you time back, insights into business performance, and all the information you need to see fulfilment happening, even when it’s outside of your four walls.
Here are a few 3PL software must-haves:
- Integrates easily with all of your sales channels and an app store that spans across other tools to create an ecommerce tech stack
- Automatically import new orders as they are placed and route them to the fulfilment centre closest to the destination
- A single login to access views of all fulfilment centres, shipments, and sales channels
- Fulfilment costs that align with your budget
- Modules to manage orders, shipments, inventory, and more
- Real-time visibility into inventory levels across locations
- A way to bundle products and manage SKUs
- The ability to pause orders, edit them after they are placed or manually upload orders as needed
- A place to request special projects (e.g., kitting orders) and set preferences yourself (e.g., packaging, returns, and more)
- The option to verify and process returns
- Access to a world-class customer support team
3PL software: the best of warehousing and technology
Not all 3PLs are created equal and many are notorious for having antiquated 3PL software for merchants to use.
Fortunately, ShipBob offers industry-leading 3PL software at no additional cost to ecommerce brands.
“We researched 3PLs and found a great solution in ShipBob. They worked really well with our core tech stack. ShipBob also owns the entire stack: inventory and order management system, warehouse management system, and their fulfilment centres.”
Gerard Ecker, Founder & CEO of Ocean & Co.
Here is an overview of what ShipBob’s 3PL software offers:
At ShipBob, we empower merchants to manage their inventory with the right tools and guidance.
ShipBob’s built-in inventory management tools provides insight and visibility into the the warehouse receiving process, allows you to view real-time inventory counts of units on hand at each location, and makes it easy to set automatic reorder points.
It’s easy to view the status of inventory and quantity on hand across locations at any point in time, identify slow-moving inventory with high storage costs, and gain insights into the performance of units sold over time by channel.
With ShipBob’s 3PL software, you can easily filter orders by status, search for specific orders, see a quick timeline view of where your order is in the fulfilment process (e.g. when an order is picked, packed, or shipped), easily find shipping-related information (e.g., weights, dimensions, or carrier service), and get a quick snapshot of any orders that require action.
Additionally, you can manage subscriptions, make changes to your orders post-purchase, map your store’s shipping options to ShipBob, and automatically share order tracking information with your customers.
Data and analytics
ShipBob’s entire logistics network is connected to the same tech stack, which provides real-time and accurate insights into orders, inventory, fulfilment, and shipping.
You can view average delivery times per shipping method, inventory levels at each fulfilment centre, historical stock levels and SKU performance.
Distributed inventory visibility across the globe
ShipBob’s software provides insights to help you strategically distribute inventory to fulfilment centres closer to your customers to drastically reduce shipping costs and transit times, taking a data-driven approach to help you find the most efficient location(s).
Have an international customer base? No problem — ShipBob’s locations in the US mean that you can ship to/from around the world while maintaining one centralised source of truth. Plus, we have fulfilment centres in Canada, Australia, the EU, and the UK.
We also offer return management services, allowing customers to generate return shipping labels and track returns, while getting your products processed and back into your available inventory as efficiently as possible.
You can choose to have ShipBob provide return shipping labels for your customers. This offers convenience for both you and your customers; you won’t have to handle returns in-house, and customers can easily track the status of their return order. ShipBob also integrates with leading returns solutions to build a more robust returns system.
Proprietary warehouse management system
ShipBob’s fulfilment centres use our proprietary warehouse management software. Unlike on-demand warehousing platforms, with our technology, you will know what’s going on in the ShipBob warehouses where your products are stored at all times.
You can search orders by tracking number, destination country, the number of items it contains, filter by sales channel, fulfilment centre location, as well as get full transparency into performance such as fulfilment speed, orders fulfiled on time, error rates, orders shipped claim-free, and much more.
ShipBob’s 3PL software features
ShipBob’s 3PL software connects with a proprietary warehouse management system, which can route orders to the nearest fulfilment centre, generate picking lists, picking items, packing, shipping, and tracking processes.
This makes ShipBob’s 3PL software a full-suite fulfilment technology solution. Take a closer look at what our technology can do.
|Inventory and order management|| |
Our inventory management software helps you set reminders to proactively replenish inventory with reorder notifications, bundle your products for promotions, make inventory transfer requests, and much more.
With order management software for your direct-to-consumer and wholesale shipments, you can manage subscriptions, make changes to your orders post-purchase, map your store’s shipping options to ShipBob, and automatically share tracking information with your customers.
|B2B fulfilment|| |
ShipBob’s B2B Fulfilment Suite and EDI capabilities enable merchants to sell throughout the entire B2B ecosystem, powering retail dropshipping (fulfiling orders placed on big box retailers’ websites) and wholesale shipping (including brick-and-mortar stores), which can connect with all the major retailers. Learn more.
|Shipment tracking|| |
As soon as an order ships, tracking is automatically pushed back to your store so you can share it with your customer.
|2-day ship option mapping|| |
ShipBob’s 2-Day Express ship option enables you to offer 2-day shipping to all of your customers in the continental US across all of your platforms.
|Integrations and app listings|| |
We partner with the leading ecommerce technology solutions and agencies to help grow your business. View our partner and integration list here.
|Packaging preferences|| |
From custom branded boxes to free plain packaging, ShipBob works with you to provide the unboxing experience you want.
|Custom fulfilment options|| |
Whether your products require kitting, want the option to include gift notes, or bundle products to increase AOV, ShipBob offers several customisation tools based on your fulfilment needs.
|Warehouse receiving|| |
From the ShipBob dashboard, you can submit a WRO, ensuring a smooth and fast receiving process. Learn more.
|SKU management|| |
Once you connect your store and sync your products, you can view real-time inventory levels by SKU, set automatic reorder points for each SKU, and merge the same product that’s imported across ecommerce stores.
|Inventory disposal and donation options|| |
ShipBob can help you dispose your inventory and you have the option to easily donate items to GiveNKind, our nonprofit partner that places donated goods with area 501(c)3 nonprofit organisations at no cost. Learn more.
|Carrier partnerships|| |
ShipBob partners with leading national, international, and regional carriers who offer both standard and expedited shipping options.
|Cost management|| |
Easily track storage, shipping, and fulfilment costs.
How 3PL software from ShipBob enables ecommerce growth
ShipBob provides ecommerce brands with reliable order fulfilment services and 3PL software solutions.
We own the entire tech stack, meaning we don’t use anyone else’s software. We built our own warehouse management system, which acts as a control centre to compile all fulfilment metrics across all elements of our fulfilment centres.
“ShipBob’s technology provides cost savings. Other 3PLs pass fees onto the client for work they do related to manual processes because they lack the fulfilment technology needed to meet customer expectations.
ShipBob’s technology has effectively eliminated the work of a program manager at other 3PLs, while providing immediate visibility into inventory and the ability to respond and make changes myself.”
Carl Protsch, Co-Founder of FLEO
Owning this deep of a tech stack increases the velocity and scale at which we can make any type of change to our technology based on real-time customer feedback. Here are some of the downstream benefits for ecommerce brands.
1. Reliable order management software
ShipBob tracks all orders and streamlines them to give you a quick overview of the fulfilment process from when an item is picked to when it is packed. ShipBob’s 3PL software allows you to have full control of your orders and automatically lets you share tracking information with your customers.
2. Warehouse management system for faster picking and packing
ShipBob’s WMS tracks everything — from how many orders per hour a picker can pick to how long it takes to receive, count, and stow new inventory that arrives — to identify opportunities for improvement and share real-time fulfilment status updates with merchants.
For customers that split their inventory across multiple locations, our 3PL software algorithm automatically selects the fulfilment centre with available inventory that’s closest to the end customer for a shorter transit time.
3. Intuitive reporting on shipping and 3PL performance
Our proprietary merchant dashboard connects to our WMS and gives each merchant deep insights into fulfilment performance, how we’re hitting our SLAs, visibility into order status and inventory counts, and much more.
Rather than requesting someone to create a report for you, you can automatically pull them on-demand, eliminating back and forth while increasing transparency. You get real-time analytics with charts to help you with everything from year-end reporting, to better supply chain decision-making.
“ShipBob’s advanced software helps us quickly understand shipping costs and how to improve shipping times by being closer to where our customers are.”
Andrea Lisbona, Founder & CEO of Touchland
How order fulfilment works with ShipBob’s 3PL software
Order fulfilment with ShipBob’s 3PL software keeps customers in the loop without them having to do any of the heavy-lifting. Here’s how it works.
1. Order is placed
ShipBob’s 3PL software receives the order that your customer places so our warehouse workers can begin the fulfilment process.
2. ShipBob picks, packs, and ships the order
Our 3PL software automatically gives the picker information on where to find the items in our warehouse, so the packer can verify items in our 3PL software, and have the order shipped according to its carrier service and speed. Then, tracking is pushed from our 3PL software to your store to be shared with the customer.
3. Customers receive packages faster
ShipBob works closely with all carriers to help ensure your customers receive their orders as soon as possible. ShipBob offers 2-Day Express shipping and other expedited services, and fulfils orders the same business day for any orders imported into our 3PL software by noon local time. That way, they get shipped out the same day when our carriers come pick up orders.
What top merchants think of ShipBob’s 3PL software
Hear about ShipBob from the ecommerce brands that use our 3PL software and fulfilment services, and learn how ShipBob compares to other 3PLs.
BAKblade provides DIY men’s body groomers and shavers, which have gained a lot of popularity since their invention in 2012. They had to deal with large orders ever since a video about BAKblade went viral online and that is when they chose ShipBob for ecommerce fulfilment.
Their reach has since grown across the US, Europe, and Canada through ShipBob’s global fulfilment network with millions of satisfied customers.
“We’ve had a long-term partnership with ShipBob, and we’ve seen the improvements and evolution of the technology over the last three years. If you bring them an idea, they will look into it. They are very cutting edge, always looking for the next angle to make their business better while keeping their customers happy.”
Matt Dryfhout, Founder & CEO of BAKblade
MDacne is a direct-to consumer brand that provides a fully customised acne treatment kit. Their MDacne app analyses your skin and recommends a personalised skincare routine with clinically tested, dermatologist-formulated treatments.
MDacne started its journey with ShipBob upon the launch of their ecommerce store in 2017. They uses ShipBob’s API to build into ShipBob’s 3PL software with custom logic to ship personalised products in MDacne’s branded boxes. The brand has also enjoyed reduced shipping costs with no compromise on quality.
“We looked at several different fulfilment companies before we launched our business and really liked ShipBob. ShipBob had an open API that allowed our tech-savvy company to operate exactly how we wanted.
Other 3PL companies only had simple technology like a very basic Shopify integration. We provide a personalised product that requires unique configurations, so we couldn’t rely on an out-of-the-box solution like Shopify and what other 3PLs offered.
We can write a few lines of code instead of creating a manual kit for each possible order combination as we’d have to do in a tool like Shopify.”
Oded Harth, CEO & Co-Founder of MDacne
Pot d’Huile is a CBD brand that sells premium olive oils and other condiments. Pot d’Huile found a reliable fulfilment partner in ShipBob and they have since seen cost savings on fulfilment. They enjoy ShipBob’s 3PL software integration with WooCommerce.
“ShipBob’s platform is easy to use and navigate, the interface is intuitive, and the analytics are very clearly laid out.
I give ShipBob’s technology a 9/10. Getting our shop integrated with ShipBob was easy, and it’s been fantastic to have; we had no problem with it.
We can see our orders come in and get fulfiled in real-time without any hiccups for the most part, which is great. Our fulfilment is on autopilot. ShipBob saves us so much effort, and the opportunity cost savings has been substantial.”
Yannick Crespo, Co-Founder & President of Pot d’Huile
Use ShipBob’s 3PL software with your ecommerce store
A key part of 3PL software is its integrations.
ShipBob’s 3PL software integrates with all major ecommerce platforms and allows merchants to sell on multiple channels.
Brands with Shopify stores can enjoy our unmatched services. ShipBob’s 3PL software integrates seamlessly with Shopify store in just a few clicks.
“ShipBob was the obvious solution for us. They align very well with Shopify and don’t have older, archaic technology like other 3PLs.”
Greg MacDonald, Customer Success Manager at Shopify and CEO of Bathorium
ShipBob’s 3PL software also complements the ecommerce setup for users with WooCommerce stores. After connecting your store to ShipBob and sending us your inventory, we’ll take care of the order picking, packing, and shipping with great efficiency.
ShipBob’s 3PL software works seamlessly for BigCommerce stores. With ShipBob, you can automate the inventory management and order fulfilment of your BigCommerce store.
ShipBob helps Wix retailers meet their online order requirements efficiently. With ShipBob, your store can provide customers with faster, more affordable shipping times thanks to a streamlined supply chain.
ShipBob is easy to connect to Squarespace stores and is the single trusted fulfilment provider powering Squarespace Extensions.
ShipBob has an apps and integrations store for more ecommerce platforms and marketplaces, allowing brands to connect to all the tools they use, from returns management platforms to packaging vendors.
ShipBob’s industry-leading 3PL software caters to all your order fulfilment needs with unmatched accuracy, transparency, and efficiency. With ShipBob, your brand can save on shipping costs, enjoy faster delivery times, and provide your customers with a great experience.Request A Quote
3PL Software FAQs
1. How do I get started with ShipBob’s 3PL software?
To view a demo of our 3PL software and all of its’ features, fill out the short form on this page here.
2. Does 3PL software work for small businesses?
Yes! ShipBob offers its complete fulfilment solution including its 3PL software to small or new ecommerce businesses through our Growth Plan.
3. Does ShipBob’s 3PL software integrate across all platforms?
Our 3PL software efficiently integrates with all major ecommerce platforms and marketplaces like Shopify, Magneto, BigCommerce, Amazon, and Walmart. Learn more here.