ShipMonk Review: Is It the Top 3PL Fulfillment Service In US?

Today we are going to do a ShipMonk Review for you.

ShipMonk’s rise in the overcrowded 3PL marketplace has been nothing short of amazing. Their cloud-based fulfillment platform offers some great features, including a few exclusives.

In this review, I will cover

Stay with us.

What is ShipMonk?

shipmonk vs deliverr vs shipbob

ShipMonk is a 3PL with a software platform that lets businesses manage a large part of the ecommerce supply chain, from a single, intuitive dashboard. It’s not an end-to-end service since their role begins after you ship your inventory to one of their warehouses.

But everything after that can be automated with their software platform.

They started as recently as 2014. But in this limited span, they have garnered some rave reviews from ecommerce merchants with a global footprint. They have made it twice to the list of ‘America’s Fastest Growing Fulfillment Center’ and to INC’s prestigious list of fast growing companies.

The founder Jan Bednar has been called the ‘quintessential migrant success story’ that best describes the American dream. Well, from $70K to $290 Million (Recent tranche of funding) certainly does qualify to be called a great success story.

From a single warehouse in the middle of the Florida desert with no air-conditioning, ShipMonk has grown to a large organization that has captured the fancy of venture capitalists, as well as ecommerce brands looking for a reliable 3PL with a sizable footprint in the US market.

Their service list is extensive and ever expanding. They currently offer eCommerce fulfillment, retail fulfillment, subscription boxes, crowdfunding fulfillment, FBA prep, Seller fulfilled and deliver duty paid.

We will focus most of our time and energy on their ecommerce fulfillment service and the key features.

But we will also briefly explore some of the other offerings. One of the things that makes ShipMonk so popular with merchants is that bulk of their clientele are small to medium-sized ecommerce brands that clock an average of $1-Mil to $10-Million in sales.

While they do deal with larger brands too, the SMB focus makes them more appealing to smaller brands.

How does ShipMonk work?

Image source: indeed

ShipMonk offers their cloud-based ecommerce management software to automate most of the backend operation of an ecommerce business.

It currently supports over 150 one-click integrations, which include most sales channels and a bunch of other ecommerce sales tools. All you need to do is connect your online store and import your products.

Everything else after that is completely automated, or can be depending on how much control you wish to exercise over the supply chain.

All that you need to do is generate the sales and ShipMonk will handle everything else.

  • ShipMonk uses intelligent algorithms to distribute your inventory into their three-warehouse network
  • Allows you to pay only for the duration that your inventory is stored in their warehouse
  • Receives the inventory for free
  • Deploys smart pick and pack to save time
  • Suggests/picks the best custom packaging for your shipment
  • Offers discounted shipping rates from top carriers
  • Allows you to manage returns.

The best part is that every customer is assigned a ‘Happiness Engineer’, which is their proprietary term for an account manager.

Regardless of whether you generate 1 sales or a million, you will have a dedicated account manager for onboarding as well as common questions after that.

ShipMonk Key Features

Just like any other 3PL service with a cloud-based platform, it’s important to analyze how easy or how tough it is to connect your stores and manage an entire operation with ShipMonk.

We tested ShipMonk’s software platform thoroughly and got to know its benefits and shortcomings, which we will present to you in this review.

Let’s dive in.

1. The Dashboard

The dashboard is undoubtedly the heart of any 3PL software platform. In this case, it happens to be the biggest USP that works in ShipMonk’s favor.

It’s a very streamlined dashboard, great UX and immensely easy to use, even for a rank newcomer. Navigation is as simple as it gets.

Everything is accessible within one or two clicks. In a nutshell, you are not going to miss any critical detail of the operation when you log in.

Why we like it

There are numerous reasons why ShipMonk’s dashboard stands out from some of the other services we have reviewed in the past.

A primary navigation menu that covers the entire operation – ShipMonk’s primary navigation menu is impossible to miss and crammed with options. There’s Orders, Inventory, Receiving, Returns, Batches, Calculator & Reports.

All of these are neatly stacked on top of the browser. Clicking on any one will open a collapsible sub-menu with more detailed options.

Numbers & Graphs where they matter – As you continue to scroll, you will come across both numbers and graphs. Forecasting for instance, is mainly graphs while Inventory management are numbers. It’s simple, but effective. You get a one-glance understanding of key metrics, while detailed ones are rightly mentioned in numbers.

The Map – A USA map occupies prime real estate on the dashboard, with the option to toggle to a global map. This is a no-brainer way to track your sales when you log in. Just hover over the state to get the number of orders. Lets you run targeted sales campaigns as well.

Let me quickly walk you through the important links of the dashboard.

2. Orders

One of the things that we like about ShipMonk’s dashboard is that there are multiple ways to access everything. For instance, when you hover on ‘Orders’, it opens up the entire collapsible menu. But if you are accessing the website on your mobile phone, you will appreciate that the same menu is available on the left hand side of the page, like a ‘sidebar’

Why we like it

Once again, the key here is that you get all vital details about your orders at a single glance. Here’s how.

Specifications next to status – The left hand sidebar menu shows you the status of the orders. There’s ‘submitted for fulfilment’, at risk, action required, shipped, canceled and so on. But here’s something that pops out.

Next to each of the statuses, you will see a specification of the exact number of orders. So if there are 10 orders shipped, you will see that. You don’t have to click on Shipped to know the exact number of orders that were shipped.

Filters – There are a bevy of filters that you can use to sort/segregate the orders which can be very useful while generating reports. Customer name, priority, country, wholesale, marketplace SKU and many more.

Export, Import & Create – You can export orders in CSV & XLSX formats, import from connected stores as well as create orders manually.

3. Inventory

Inventory management is a tough nut to crack. But ShipMonk makes it effortless. They have a comprehensive inventory management suite that will definitely reduce effort and time at your end.

You have two primary options. That is to create or import products which will then be added to your inventory. The current inventory levels are automated in real time based on your current orders.

Why we like it

One-glance view – Once again, we get a great one-glance view of the inventory levels. There’s total inventory value right at the top, followed by the top 3 products.

You also have a separate box that shows you the overview of the inventory levels with expected, low stock and out of stock products.

Vital Details in the main table – In case you wish to get more detailed inventory stats, you don’t have to go deep into the dashboard. Just under the overview, you get all the important details.

How much inventory is in stock in the warehouse, how many are available for use in orders, how many are already allocated to orders, the number of days before you run out of stock and so on.

All these details are available based on SKUS. So you can see the product, variation, picture, packing type and dimensions, all in one table.

4. Receiving

ShipMonk offers free receiving as long as there are 5 individual, pickable units per SKU. They call this ‘Good Faith Receiving’ and it’s a great service for small brands looking to avoid receiving costs.

The only possible quibble is that they will not count the individual units in each SKU. So if your vendor has packed fewer units, you won’t realize it until much later. That’s where a good dropshipping agent comes into the picture. Someone who can verify the units before sending it to the warehouse.

Coming back to ‘Good faith receiving’, the first step is to create a receiving, which is what the dashboard simplifies.

When you click on ‘Create Receiving’, it opens up a form with preset dropdowns for most of the important details. This avoids typos or mistakes. All that you have to do is select the warehouse, create an ASN, enter the supplier name, the estimated delivery date, select the type of unit (single SKU, mixed SKU, container etc) and create a description.

That’s it. You are now ready to receive your inventory for free at ShipMonk’s warehouse.

Why we like it

Just like the rest of the navigation menus, the receiving menu is simple and streamlined.

Everything’s covered – On the left you have the warehouse names, followed by the receiving status (arrived, awaited, receiving in progress), the ASN, the creation date, the Expected arrival date, the number of SKUS, the total number of units and the supplier name.

A single table that shows you all details about your incoming receiving.

Filters – You can filter the receivables by warehouse location or the receiving status.

5. Returns

Returns management is generally a tedious endeavor for ecommerce brands.

We have seen numerous 3PL services with stunning software platforms that have a clunky returns management interface. That’s the reason why a lot of businesses prefer using the best returns management software instead.

But you are in for a pleasant surprise when you check ShipMonk’s returns module. It may not be as comprehensive as a standalone returns software is. But it’s definitely easy to use and covers the basics.

Why we like it

Status overview – The returns management table gives you all important metrics at a glance. The RMA, the status of the package, the original order number, the warehouse where the package is being returned to, return reason, customer name, quantity and cost. Of these, the RMA number and the original order are clickable, leading to more details about the product.

Filters galore – You can filter by warehouse, status and RMA creation date. But a nice little feature is being able to filter by the reason for return. This can help you spot poor quality products or rogue customers who are abusing the business.

Based on our interaction with ShipMonk’s dashboard, we are very impressed with how easy it is to operate a complete ecommerce business. You never get overwhelmed. Everything is intuitive and the UX is beginner-friendly.

ShipMonk Fulfillment Services

ShipMonk offers diverse fulfillment services ranging from the ubiquitous ecommerce fulfillment to the trending Amazon Seller Fulfilled, and the pragmatic deliver duty paid. We take a quick look at all of these.

1. Order fulfillment

ShipMonk’s order fulfillment services are all-inclusive, scalable and feature rich. Right from the moment you send the inventory to one of ShipMonk’s warehouses in the US, everything can potentially be automated.

They support over 150-ingetrations and can handle from 1 to 10000 orders a day. They will suggest the best distribution network to amplify delivery times and reduce shipping costs. They also use a single-day storage pricing model, which is a cost effective alternative to bulk pricing.

So, if you have a business with a high sales volume, you can potentially save a lot of money on storage, because you only pay for the exact number of days that your product is stored in the warehouse.

They also claim to have access to some of the cheapest shipping prices across the United States (More on this in the pros and cons).

But if you wish to connect your own account, you can choose to do that as well. Custom packing, returns management and dedicated account managers complete what’s a well-rounded fulfillment service.

2. Retail Fulfillment

ShipMonk’s software platform is equipped to tackle B2B fulfillment as efficiently as it can handle B2C orders. It offers integration with multiple retailers, allowing you to manage multiple sales channels from the dashboard.

Bulk processing allows you to control inventory and process orders in bulk, rather than doing it manually.

With omnichannel sales support and unlimited automated mapping and bundling, it’s a hands-off way to fulfill your orders to retailers if the opportunity arises.

ShipMonk also offers custom labeling options and packing lists, along with cross docking and breaking bulk.

3. Subscription Boxes

If you are a new organization looking to tap into the booming ‘subcom’ business, ShipMonk can take the guesswork out of the service. Whereas if you have experience in the subscription box niche, ShipMonk can add efficiency and streamline the operation for you, which can impact your bottom line positively.

They have a dedicated team for kitting and assembly, offer custom packaging and top it up with cheap shipping prices. The kitting and assembly team will pack and present the product to your specifications.

You will receive detailed pictures confirming that everything’s been done to meet your brand’s marketing goals.

In addition to this, you will have a dedicated account manager to answer questions, as well as the option to fulfill special-case, custom orders. ShipMonk’s team will first get on a one-on-one phone call with you to understand your business and to discuss solutions that can better the prospects.

4. Crowdfunding Fulfillment

ShipMonk offers inventory management, storage, pick & pack and delivery for your ecommerce campaigns crowdfunded through Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Crowdfunded fulfillment offers a different set of challenges altogether.

For starters, you need a platform that connects crowdfunding sites and online sales channels seamlessly.

ShipMonk does that with one-click integrations. Secondly, the inventory management suite is pretty comprehensive as we have already covered. So, you get complete automation and quick shipping at cost effective prices.

If you have set up a reward fulfillment, then ShipMonk’s team can help prioritize those for fulfillment.

5. FBA Prep Services

Amazon’s FBA prep is one of the most sought after sales channels. There’s a good reason too.

Amazon Prime Memberships boast a footprint of billions. There are free shipping offers and perks galore which can quickly allow you to scale your business.

There’s a caveat though. Amazon FBA has stringent rules. Right from packaging to bar code management, many times, your supplier may be ill-equipped to meet these requirements.

That’s where ShipMonk’s team comes into the picture. From quality control to repackaging, labeling, special packaging, preparing fragile items and photo documentation, they have a comprehensive range of services especially for Amazon FBA sellers.

Working with a team that has relevant experience will eliminate trial and error. Also, you get access to ShipMonk’s best-in-class software and 3PL service.

ShipMonk Pricing

ShipMonk uses a volume-based model to calculate pricing. The more inventory they handle, lower the prices.

If you are clocking more than 10000 sales a month, you may be eligible for a custom quote which may be better than what’s listed here.

Here’s an overview of their pricing model for ecommerce fulfillment only. They have different prices for box subscriptions, FBA prep & Retail, mind you.

1. For 0-500 orders

shipmonk fulfillment fees
  • First time order pick fee – $2.50/order
  • Additional Items for orders with two or more items – $0.50 per item/order
  • Promotional Inserts – $0.20
  • Packaging Material – $0.15 – $2.00
  • Returns Processing – $2.50 + .50/additional item
  • Storage charges – $1 – $20 depending on the storage
  • Special Projects – $45/man-hour
  • Container Unloading – $300 per 20’ container, $500 per 40’ container
  • Minimum Pick & Pack Fee – $250/month

2. For 501-1000 orders

fulfillment cost

First time order pick fee – $2.25/order

Everything else remains the same.

3. For 1001-2500 Orders

First time order pick fee – $2.00/order

Additional Items for orders with two or more items – $0.40 per item/order

Everything else remains the same.

4. For 2500 – 5001 Orders

First time order pick fee – $1.80/order

Additional Items for orders with two or more items – $0.35 per item/order

5. For 5001 – 10000 Orders

fulfillment cost

First time order pick fee – $1.50/order

Additional Items for orders with two or more items – $0.30 per item/order

ShipMonk Good Faith Receiving

One of the things that’s not mentioned here is that ShipMonk offers free receiving for all orders regardless of volume.

This is a service they call ‘Good Faith Receiving’ and most other 3PL will charge you for it.

The caveat is that unlike their verified inventory program which is charged extra, the inventory will not be counted. They limit their liability to $10/unit for full cartons if any are found missing. The liability is only with them if a full case goes missing.

ShipMonk Review: Things I liked

ShipMonk’s 3PL service and software platform bring automation and efficiency to backend ecommerce management. Here are some of the things that manage to stand out.

Small-brand friendly – ShipMonk has a very low entry barrier. Even if you generate one sales a day, you can join the platform at the same price that a larger brand joins at.

Also, regardless of your sales volume, you will be assigned an account manager. This makes it one of the best options for small to medium sized brands, who may have to deal with steep upfront costs with other similar services.

150 Integrations and rising – ShipMonk currently offers 150 plus one-click integrations. When we reviewed it a few months ago, it was 100. So their list of integrations is steadily expanding. You can link multiple sales channels and manage the entire business effortlessly.

Favorable pricing for storage and receiving – ShipMonk is one of the few services that offers free receiving. In comparison, Shipbob’s receiving prices seem steep. Some brands might be turned off because they limit liability for free receiving. But that’s to be expected. It’s a great add on nevertheless.

Great support – If there’s one thing that has remained consistent across ShipMonk’s reviews on the internet, it is the positive feedback for their customer support. They have dedicated account managers with support on live chat as well as email.

User Friendly Dashboard – Despite being crammed with features, we never felt overwhelmed while trying to connect stores, import orders, creating an inventory receiving, tracking returns, or customizing packaging. ShipMonk’s software certainly rates as one of the best ones in the industry.

ShipMonk Review: Things I Didn’t Like

That said, there are a few quibbles that I have with the service.

The Monthly Minimum – ShipMonk has a monthly charge of $250. That’s hardly expensive for most ecommerce businesses. So, this may not be a quibble for all, mind you.

But as always, we try to look at it objectively from the perspective of brands big and small. If you are a one-man operation just testing the waters, that cost can quickly add up to your overheads.

Pricing Pattern – Rather than offering an all-inclusive cost per product, like we do at Sourcingbro, ShipMonk breaks it up into multiple small charges. These are not the priciest in the industry.

But they are certainly tricky to get a hang of, especially for new businesses.

For instance, would you rather have a single price for end to end fulfillment, like $10/product, or have multiple charges that keep adding up as you progress through the supply chain?

Shipping costs – While ShipMonk offers reasonable pricing and multiple carrier integrations, their shipping prices at times tend to be more expensive than other 3PL businesses.

ShipMonk Alternatives & Competitors

All said and done, what are your top choices if you are looking for an alternative to ShipMonk?

Here’s a look at some of the other popular 3PL & 4PL services we have reviewed recently.

1. ShipBob

shipbob fulfillment

With a network of 13 fulfillment centers in the United States, 2 in Canada and 1 in the UK, Shipbob offers a viable alternative with a global footprint. They back it up with overnight & 2-day deliveries in the United States and shipping costs based on Shipping Zones.

Their software is feature rich and they have a great track record for deliveries. A potential mood dampener could be their steep one-time set up fee.

Click here to read our detailed ShipBob review to know if Shipbob is a better choice.  

2. Deliverr

Deliverr is a 4PL (4TH Party Logistics Service) that draws inspiration from the Amazon fulfillment (FBA) model. It has partnered with a warehouse network in USA to offer excellent delivery times.

They offer an exclusive service called ‘Fast Tag’ which lets you display Amazon Prime-like delivery timespan badges for increasing click-through rates and conversions.

To top it off, our Deliverr review shows that their shipping prices are the cheapest in the industry. Is Deliverr a better choice?

Shipbob vs. Deliverr. Vs. ShipMonk

If you are a crunched for time, the Sourcingbro team has done the heavy lifting for you. We have run a heads-to-toe comparison of these three services one on one page.

Read our ShipBob vs. Deliverr vs. ShipMonk review to find out more.  

Conclusion

ShipMonk can be an excellent fulfillment partner if you are generating a small volume of sales, like say 2-10 orders a day, or you generate more than 10000/sales a month and are dissatisfied with the pricing that one of the other 3PL offers you.

They have a custom quote-based pricing model and you will have to bring your negotiating skills to the fore.

Their software is one of their USPs, followed by the customer support and their onboarding process. But the pricing pattern is tricky and it’s often easy to not notice the fine print.

If you prefer a simpler pricing pattern, international fulfillment with a battle-tested shipping network & a passionate team of individuals to oversee your entire ecommerce operation, Sourcingbro can help. Click here to speak to us now.


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