ShipBob has managed to create a fair bit of buzz in recent times. A lot of ecom brands and dropshippers are using it to expedite deliveries to key markets in the West. But if you are new to the dropshipping space, it’s not easy to find unbiased information about it.
I mean, the information’s definitely there. But there’s a lot of clutter, with a fair bit of misinformation too. That’s why I decided to create this detailed ShipBob Review.
In this review, I am going to cover:
- What ShipBob does
- Key services and features
- Pricing & Cost
- Delivery times
- My personal recommendation – Yay or Nay
Just to make it clear, I received an invitation to a ShipBob account from one of my clients. So, I spent weeks trying out every single feature on offer to write this review.
If you are looking to fulfill your orders with ShipBob, this review will help you make an informed choice.
Without further ado, let’s unravel ShipBob.
What is ShipBob
ShipBob is a shipping software platform & a 3PL combined into one.
They have 13 fulfillment centers in the United States, 2 in Canada and 1 in the UK, which translates into one or two-day deliveries for your primary target markets.
Secondly, their software platform and partner integrations cover the entire e-commerce supply chain including Inventory management, Order management, Warehouse management & Transportation management.
In a nutshell, it gives you everything you need to run a fast & effective e-commerce business.
What does ShipBob do?
Well, it does both. It is the actual 3PL, given that it handles the logistics for your ecommerce products. But it’s also the software that allows you to manage everything from end to end.
ShipBob offers overnight & 2-day deliveries in the United States. How does it manage to do that, you might wonder? It allows you to distribute your inventory to one, or all 13 of its warehouses in the United States. This means that even in peak season, your order may be delivered (Not guaranteed) the same day or the next day at best.
It places you on-par with big e-commerce giants such as Amazon.
ShipBob Integrations and Advantages
One of the most advantageous features of ShipBob is the multitude of partner integrations that it offers, right from the dashboard. The entire list is quite elaborate.
But to give you an overview,
- ShipBob can integrate with most leading Ecommerce platforms & Marketplaces,
- Inventory & Order Management tools
- Returns Management platforms
- Freight & Shipping solutions
- Marketing & CRM platforms
- Packaging & Design solutions
- Branding agencies
- Accounting & financing platforms
- Crowdfunding platforms.
For a lot of these, ShipBob offers a direct integration, which means that you can login to your account directly from the ShipBob dashboard. The rest can be added manually.
How Easy is it to Use ShipBob?
That’s subjective. It took me a few days to get a hang of the dashboard, the features and the advanced functionalities. But if you have used Dropshipping software earlier, you might find it reasonably easy to work with.
So let me quickly walk you through the first step in your journey with ShipBob.
1.Connecting Your Store to ShipBob
I’ll use Shopify as an example to quickly show you how you can add your product to ShipBob.
ShipBob makes it easy to sync existing products from your Shopify store to the dashboard. You just need to connect the store from ‘Store Integrations’ and start syncing. After the initial setup and sync which doesn’t take more than a few minutes, you can use the quick set up option whenever you add a new product to your Shopify store.
What happens if you add a new product to your store, but forget to update it on ShipBob? ShipBob automatically creates a new product for any order that contains the new product.
Alternatively, you can upload the products manually with a CSV file.
Once you sync the product with ShipBob, you can edit the product page and add as many details as you want to. However, you cannot delete the product. You can only activate or deactivate it.
One thing that you need to be careful about is adding the SKU in your store before syncing it with ShipBob. SKUs can only be created when adding new products. You cannot update it on ShipBob after you have synced the product once. So ensure that you do this first.
2. Barcode Management
Barcode is a coded image that’s identifiable by a series of parallel lines of varying thickness. You might have seen this on the products that you order online, or the ones in supermarkets.
These lines contain vital information about the SKU that allows it to be identified when the image is scanned with a barcode scanner. Barcode is considered a vital part of accurate inventory management and fulfillment process.
- It helps with inventory management while receiving inventory, maintaining stock & compiling reports.
- It can be very useful cross verifying dimensions & weight of the package to match it with what you’ve mentioned in the SKU
That’s of course just scraping the surface of the benefits that you get with barcode. How do you add barcode to your products? It’s simple. You just need to edit the product information on ShipBob and add the barcode.
ShipBob or any other fulfillment centers will require you to have a barcode on products before sending your inventory, otherwise there might be additional charges on missing barcodes.
3. Choosing Packaging Material with ShipBob
Selecting the right packaging material is one of the most critical parts of your dropshipping business.
The right packaging ensures that the product remains undamaged and your shipping prices remain affordable. With ShipBob, you get free unbranded packaging for all your orders. However, you have to ensure that you select your packaging preference. Else, the order will remain unfulfilled.
ShipBob offers the following packaging materials.
- Standard Boxes
- Bubble Mailers
- Poly Mailers
- Poster Tubes
- Book Folds
- Ship in the default container that the item is packed in at the source
- Custom packaging to be sent by you
While selecting the packaging requirements, you need to select from one of the available product descriptions. For example, it’s clothing, or it’s fragile, it’s a poster and so on. The next step is to select the packaging preference for the item. That’s it. ShipBob does the rest.
4. Return Preferences
ShipBob also makes it easy for you to select the best action if the package is returned back for some reason.
Your options are –
- Restock in which, the item will be added again to the inventory
- Dispose which is pretty self-explanatory
- Quarantine in which the item will be stored safely. But it will not be added back to the inventory
You can also choose from one of two backup options which are dispose and quarantine.
ShipBob’s Fulfillment & Warehouse Locations
ShipBob has multiple warehouses that are spread across the Western Markets. There are many ways in which you can select the right warehouse location for your orders. If you have preexisting order data, you can use that to pick a warehouse that’s closest to your primary market.
But first, let’s take a look at what ShipBob offers for shipping
ShipBob offers a variety of shipping options such as Fedex 2Day & USPS Overnight among others. For your convenience, I’ll just list 3 most common options among others.
- Standard – This is the most affordable and relatively fast shipping method, the average shipping time is 4-7 days for the US, 7-30 days for International shipments.
- Priority – Priority shipping for domestic shipments takes 3-5 business days. Priority shipping is unavailable for international orders.
- Expedited – Expedited shipping times are currently listed as 2-4 business days for domestic shipments & 4-12 business days for international shipments.
Based on our data from 21024 orders, ShipBob’s average fulfillment time is about 1-day. That’s extremely fast. Only 6-orders have gotten delayed. So, you can be rest assured that the above mentioned times do not reflect their current delivery times.
It’s just a measure that they had to take because of the changed SLAs from shipping providers.
What Products Can You Ship with ShipBob?
Well, pretty much anything for ecommerce products and that even includes dangerous or hazardous goods.
ShipBob defines dangerous or hazardous goods as, ‘Solids, liquids, or gases that can harm people, other living organisms, property, or the environment.’
Based on Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), it will only ship items classified as Dangerous Goods (DG) via DHL for domestic destinations. More importantly, the onus is on you to declare a product as DG, if it fits the category. You can find more details about it on the ShipBob website.
ShipBob’s Warehouse Locations
ShipBob has 13 warehouses in the United States. The exact locations are –
- Cicero, Illinois
- Woodridge, Illinois
- Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
- Moreno Valley, California
- Grapevine, Texas
- Carrollton, Texas
- Chattanooga, Tennessee
- Edison, New Jersey
- St. Petersburg, Florida
- Geneva, Wisconsin
- Phoenix, AZ
- Louisville, KY
They have one Warehouse in Ottawa, Canada and two in UK. These are located at Feltham near London & in Ireland.
Like we mentioned, this is one of the biggest advantages of working with ShipBob. You can use data from your existing orders to distribute your inventory to the best locations that reduce costs and transit time.
If you do not have data, you can pick the warehouse that offers you the best price advantage. ShipBob’s Zone Map analysis is immensely helpful for this.
By the way, we should also mention that ShipBob will automatically show you the fulfillment centers that are currently available, on your account dashboard. It will also display any special attributes to that fulfillment center. For instance, it offers eco-friendly packaging in some Fulfillment centers.
You may or may not be granted access to a fulfillment center with special attributes, immediately. You can however request access to it.
In the past, if a customer wanted to return a product, our clients would either ask them to send it back to our China warehouse or let the customer keep the product and refund them.
Either way, it’s a headache with losses.
But when you work with a domestic 3PL like ShipBob it makes it easy to deal with such situations with their return management module. It’s easily accessible on the dashboard and you just have to ‘Generate Return Label’ and select the item that you are returning.
As we mentioned earlier, there are three possible actions that you can set as default. You can return it to the inventory, ask ShipBob to dispose it, or quarantine the product. While returning the shipment, you also have the option to choose which warehouse to ship it to.
The most important detail that you must note is to submit an RMA and tracking ID to ShipBob. Without these, the return order goes on hold and On-Hold Receiving (URO) fees will apply.
Signature at Delivery
If you require a signature at delivery, then you can select that option from the shipment management page. This is a chargeable service though and items shipped by DHL will be charged $3.50. USPS & Fedex items are charged at $5.97.
Signature at delivery is automatically added to any Shipment with a value over $300.
Pricing is most likely one of the primary factors that you will consider before selecting a fulfillment center
At first glance, it’s a little tricky to figure out ShipBob’s pricing model. However, you need to remember that all the charges include the entire supply chain from the warehouse to the customer. Here’s an overview of their most updated pricing.
- One Time Set Up Charges – This is a custom quote that you will receive based on your unique requirements. It’s usually around $975. But could vary depending on the size and volume of your operation.
- Inbound receiving fees – It’s a flat rate of $25 for two hours of securely unloading and storing your items in bar-coded locations. For every additional hour after that, it’s $35 per man hour.
- Storage – A monthly price of $40 per pallet, $10 per shelf or $5 per bin.
- Pick & Pack – The first five picks in an order are free. It’s $0.20 for the sixth pick and beyond.
- Shipping Costs – The Shipping cost is a total cost that includes the fulfillment service, which means picking, packing, the packaging material & shipping.
Additional charges will apply if you avail of any of the services that are not mentioned here. For instance, disposal is a paid service. It’s $0.25 per disposed item, or $500 per pallet. Similarly breaking down cases, printing packing slips, Amazon orders (FBA), B2B orders and handling large packages are some services that are chargeable.
Let’s now understand how ShipBob calculates Shipping costs. There are two primary factors that come into play. There’s the Shipping zone and the dimensional weight.
Understanding Shipping Zones
ShipBob uses shipping zones to determine the shipping charges. It categorizes the geographical areas covered by their shipping partners into 10 Zones. Zone 1 comprises of the closest geographical locations to the fulfillment center where the inventory is stocked. Zone 10 is the farthest.
The shipping costs and the transit time increases with the Zone. This is why it is important to select the appropriate warehouse to stock your inventory. If your primary market is close to Ohio, you want to store it in one of the Chicago Warehouses to ensure that you fall in Shipping Zone 1.
But if your second biggest market is in California, distribute part of your inventory to the Fulfilment center in Moreno Valley. This ensures that you will fall into the first 3 shipping zones at least.
Understanding Dimensional Weight
The other important metric that you will need to understand, to be able to know the accurate shipping costs, is Dimensional weight. Every package has two different weights. There’s the actual weight of the package which includes the dunnage and packaging materials. Then there’s the dimensional weight of the package.
The Dimensional weight for US shipments is calculated by (L x W x H)/166. For packages outside of the US, it is (L x W x H)/139.
ShipBob compares the actual weight vs. the Dimensional weight. When the actual weight is higher, you will be billed by that number. But when the Dimensional weight is higher than the actual weight, you will be billed by the Dimensional weight.
Unfortunately, that’s how commercial freight services price their packages. It has nothing to do with ShipBob.
So, what’s the final shipping cost?
Since there are so many different shipping provider options, here’s an overview of what it will cost you to ship out your package with ShipBob.
#1 Standard Shipping
#2 Priority Shipping
#3 Expedited Shipping
As you can see here, the expedited shipping service is an expensive option. (it tends to fall between overnight and 2-day shipping for most domestic deliveries) It does offer a plethora of benefits, mind you. But it’s not always necessary.
Most of the time our clients just use the standard shipping. It’s reasonably priced, the delivery times are excellent with the local warehouses. Generally takes about 4-7 days. That’s way better than the old school delivery methods.
ShipBob Shipping Times & Results
Here’s an overview of the average shipping times for ShipBob. We have already covered the ballpark delivery times earlier in the article. Let’s take a look at some real delivery statistics now.
#1 – From an average of 21,090 orders, 72% of them took 3-5 days for delivery. This is the standard delivery mind you.
#2 – Despite all the best practices and SOPs, sometimes carriers can misplace, mis-scan or even incorrectly sort orders. From 21,090 orders, 157(0.74%) orders were undelivered.
#3 – At times, there can be an error in the address or zip code or phone number. Sometimes, more details are required and the customer is unreachable. This results in the shipment being returned to the sender. From 21,090 orders, 170(0.8%) were returned to the sender.
ShipBob Customer Support
There are a lot of varying opinions out there about ShipBob’s customer support. Often, these opinions are biased or not completely true. We wanted to give you an unbiased picture of what it will be to interact with the customer support team.
The support options depend on your order volume. You may have a dedicated account manager assigned, whom you can reach out to incase of a query. They usually respond in a couple of hours.
Otherwise, you have to send out an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or book a call with them.
Their “live chat” window is literally just a self-help center where you need to search for the answer by yourself.
Common Problems and Responses
Here are some of the common issues and the solutions that ShipBob offers. Some are quite unsatisfactory to be honest.
For instance – If the order shows delivered, but the customer claims that they have not received it, ShipBob will not offer you a refund. They explain that this is because of their ‘Lost in Transit’ policy, which disallows a refund if the order is marked by the carrier as delivered. The solution they offer is to opt for their ‘Signature required at delivery service’, which is paid by the way.
In case the package is not marked as delivered and the customer claims that they have not received it yet, then you have to wait for 20-days for domestic shipping and 30-days for international shipping for the order status to be updated. If there are no further updates, you need to mail them and send a retail invoice for the order as well as a communication from the customer that states that they have not received the order yet.
They offer a courtesy insurance of up to $100 of the retail value of the product. If the product value is more than $100, you need to purchase additional insurance.
And if you make a mistake, they will keep charging you until you solve the problem. Take a look at this screenshot to get an idea of what I mean. The URO charge is $25 per day.
I’d actually appreciate it, if they could proactively solve the problems for their clients rather than just charging additional for it.
ShipBob Review: Things I liked
Large Self-Owned Warehouse Network: ShipBob’s USP is their large warehouse network that covers the massive American landscape, and with it, key marketplaces. By using their warehouse distribution, you ensure that your product is never more than 2-days away from the customer. Besides, you can reduce transit time and shipping costs.
Easy return process: Generating return labels is a cakewalk with ShipBob. Besides, you can choose what to do with the returned package. Your options are to quarantine, dispose it, or add it back to the inventory.
Detailed analytics dashboard: ShipBob’s dashboard gives you a one-glance view at the entire operation, without missing out on any key metrics. You do not have to dig deep or toggle buttons or tabs to find business-sensitive data that matters.
ShipBob Review: Things I don’t like
Setup fees is high and Shipping option is overwhelming: ShipBob’s upfront set up fee can be a dampener for a lot of small businesses. Another quibble that we have is the multitude of shipping options they offer. It could have been a lot simpler. Instead, it ends up being overwhelming.
Shipping cost are based on shipping zone: While the Shipping Zone is a terrific way to reduce shipping costs, at times, even with the best planning and effort, you may not be able to distribute the inventory accurately. This means, the farther away you are from the customer, the more cost you incur.
If you prefer a simple pricing model, check out our in-depth Deliverr review.
Keep charging you until you solved the problem: Lastly, their penalties and charges are a little difficult to work with. What’s more challenging is that they will keep charging you, sometimes every day until you resolve the problem. What if you are away from the dashboard for a week due to an emergency? You’ll have incurred a sizable bill for a problem that was unintentional in the first place.
ShipBob Review Bottom Line – Is it worth it?
All said and done, what’s the verdict? Should you consider ShipBob for your order fulfillment if you are a beginner dropshipper?
Well, if you are consistently generating 300/sales(depending on your order value) more than 2 months, and prompt personal support is not a must have for you, then yes. Because the shipping times are almost twice lesser compared to shipping from China, your customers will definitely have a better buying experience.
But they tend to be expensive and there are a lot of additional charges that come into play. Anything less than that and you might be better off working with a dropshipping agent and a smaller 3PL provider instead of ShipBob.
What are your personal thoughts and experiences with ShipBob?