Demystifying ShipBob's Fulfillment Fees, Minimums, and True Costs

We're breaking down ShipBob's pricing and various fees to help you better understand how they work with fulfillment clients.

As ecommerce grows, online retailers are increasingly turning to 3PLs like ShipBob for outsourced order fulfillment and logistics. But before partnering with ShipBob, merchants need to take a close look at their fulfillment fees, account minimums, and customer service capabilities.

This detailed guide examines ShipBob's pricing, costs, support, and service standards based on research and real customer reviews. We'll uncover key factors like their account setup fees, monthly storage rates, fulfillment price transparency, shipping rate clarity, and customer service limitations.

Understanding the nitty gritty details on ShipBob's fees and services will empower online sellers to make an informed decision when evaluating them as a 3PL partner.

This in-depth guide examines key ShipBob pricing factors to understand before signing up:

Onboarding and Account Setup Fees

  • ShipBob charges an upfront onboarding fee ranging from $500 for basic accounts to over $1,000 for enterprise-level implementation. This covers integration, training, and getting your inventory and account established.
  • Their "Growth Plan" option waives onboarding fees but you lose dedicated support and account management. Lack of guidance during setup causes issues for some merchants down the line.
  • Competing 3PLs like Simple Fulfillment onboard new accounts for free even with dedicated support, so ShipBob's fees are worth factoring in.
  • ShipBob's onboarding fees are charged upfront before you even process orders, unlike some rivals that allow you to onboard for free and pay only as you scale up. This increases risk if you end up deciding ShipBob is not the right fit.
  • Poor customer support during integration and setup can lead to improperly configured accounts, leading to fulfillment issues down the line. So the lack of support with Growth Plan accounts poses problems.

Monthly Storage and Inventory Management Fees

  • ShipBob bills monthly storage fees based on total warehouse space used, not number of SKUs stored. Rates are $40 per pallet, $10 per shelf, and $5 per bin. Their bins run smaller than some rivals.
  • Inbound receiving is $25 per hour for the first 2 hours, then $40 per hour after that. Returns processing is a flat $3 per order.
  • Storage minimums apply based on number of pallets, shelves, and bins allocated to your account. Minimums can drive up base costs.
  • ShipBob's minimum monthly fee tiers are relatively high. Even their "Starter" tier minimum is $500 per month before any actual order or inventory fees.
  • Their per bin rates can add up quickly for smaller items since their bin dimensions are smaller than other major 3PLs. You may need 3x as many bins with ShipBob.

Order Handling and Fulfillment Fees

  • ShipBob does not provide public pricing for their actual order processing and fulfillment fees. These costs are bundled into overall quoted rates.
  • Lack of transparency into exactly what fulfillment tasks cost makes it hard to forecast and budget as order volumes fluctuate.
  • Add-on fees for custom packaging, expedited shipping, and other tasks outside basic fulfillment also apply but are not publicly listed.
  • Without per-order or per-unit pick, pack, and processing rates published, unpredictably high fulfillment bills can result for merchants reliant on ShipBob.
  • Vague bundling of fees prevents sellers from accurately comparing ShipBob's costs to other major 3PLs with transparent per-order pricing.

Shipping, Delivery, and Postage Rates

  • Actual shipping rates and postal charges are not revealed or itemized. ShipBob claims discounted rates through volume but no specifics are shared.
  • Without clarity into which carriers are used and how postal charges are calculated, unpredictably high shipping costs can result for some merchants.
  • Extra services like custom packaging, freight, faster shipping, etc. incur add-on fees that are not openly published or defined.
  • The lack of specificity on shipping rates and carriers used makes it impossible for sellers to compare ShipBob's delivery costs to USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.
  • Ambiguous bundling of shipping fees limits the ability to optimize and choose cost-effective delivery options tailored to each product.

Customer Service and Support Limitations

  • In pursuit of automation and scale, ShipBob seems to lack resources for dedicated individual customer support and account management, based on numerous complaints.
  • For midsize and larger customers this tech-first approach may suffice. But for small sellers, more attentive customer service is essential.
  • Response times to issues and requests for assistance can be slow, leading to costly fulfillment mishaps for some merchants relying on ShipBob.
  • Negative feedback on ShipBob's customer service spans their chat, email, and phone support channels, indicating systemic issues with support prioritization and availability.
  • Lack of accountability from an account manager or customer service point of contact makes it difficult to get timely resolutions when problems arise.

Additional ShipBob Onboarding/Account Setup Considerations

  • ShipBob requires new users to fill out and submit a W-9 tax form upfront during onboarding. Some competing 3PLs allow you to initially submit basic business information only.
  • Integration with your ecommerce platform can take 1-2 weeks with ShipBob. Any debugging of issues that arise adds more time before going live. Some report spending a month getting fully launched.
  • ShipBob does not provide sandbox or test accounts to trial the onboarding process and service. You have to commit fully upfront without a trial period.

Key ShipBob Inventory Management and Storage Tips

  • ShipBob's storage fees are based on warehouse cubic space used, so bulky/oversized items incur much higher costs than compact products. Factor this into pricing.
  • Their pallet dimensions run smaller than other major 3PLs, so your products may require more pallets with ShipBob raising costs. Compare their measurements.
  • ShipBob limits the number of available inventory bins, shelves, and pallets per account tier. Understanding these inventory limits is critical to avoid forced upgrades.
  • Reports of inventory mismanagement including damages, shortages, and fulfillment issues indicate potential weaknesses in ShipBob's warehouse systems.

What to Know About ShipBob Order Handling and Fulfillment Speeds

  • ShipBob does not publish average order processing and fulfillment speeds, making it difficult to estimate delivery timelines.
  • They lack per-unit pricing for pick, pack, and prep. You can't predict added fulfillment costs as order volumes grow.
  • Orders that require additional processing like gift wrap, custom packaging, or special handling can get de-prioritized and slow.
  • For complex or multi-item orders, ShipBob's automated workflows cause delays compared to 3PLs with more flexible fulfillment processes.

Key Takeaways on Vetting ShipBob's Services as a 3PL

  • ShipBob's broad service offering matches leading 3PLs, but lack of pricing transparency is problematic for accurate forecasting.
  • For established enterprises with steady volumes, their automation focus delivers efficiencies. But merchants ramping up may desire more personalized support.
  • Compare their lack of support, opaque shipping rates, and rigid systems to competitors like Simple that offer transparent pricing and dedicated account management.
  • Sharing detailed client reviews on issues like inventory mismanagement, service failures, support unresponsiveness, and fulfillment delays provides helpful due diligence.

In summary, ShipBob offers the broad infrastructure and capabilities expected from a top 3PL. However, their lack of transparent pricing, reported issues with inventory and order accuracy, and notable gaps in customer support should give online merchants pause.

Before committing to ShipBob's logistics platform, meticulously comparing their fees, support responsiveness, and service limitations to alternatives like Simple Fulfillment can prevent headaches. Focusing heavily on automation over human customer service may not suit every seller's needs.

By taking a close look at the experiences of existing clients, hidden costs, and support availability, retailers can make the best choice for their ecommerce order fulfillment partner. Choosing the right 3PL relationship is a long-term commitment requiring thorough due diligence upfront.

Looking for eCommerce fulfillment partner?

Let's Chat