Order fulfillment software automates the process of completing customer orders (packing and shipping products) for ecommerce retailers. Large brands also use fulfillment software to manage pickup orders.
For most small businesses, the best fulfillment software depends on the size of your operation and whether you are fulfilling customer orders in-house or outsourcing the process to another company.
The top four order fulfillment software solutions for 2020 are:
- ShipStation: Best order fulfillment software for most small businesses packing and shipping orders in-house
- ShipBob: Best order fulfillment solution for businesses wanting to outsource fulfillment
- Brightpearl: Best order fulfillment software for retailers managing warehouses of products
- Zoho Inventory: Best free order fulfillment software for businesses with fewer than 20 monthly orders
ShipStation: Best Software for Small Business In-house Fulfillment
ShipStation is a shipping and order fulfillment software that helps businesses manage orders in-house. Import customer orders from your ecommerce platforms, shopping carts, and marketplace sales channels, then print your packing and shipping labels with branded tracking and reduced shipping rates. This affordable setup is ideal for most small businesses managing less than a few dozen orders per-day who want to handle the process of packing and shipping orders themselves.
Works with almost every platform and multiple shipping carriers
Limited support hours and live support not available with all plans
Set custom automation rules and tailor the dashboard interface to your specific needs
Can’t identify the same customer across multiple sales channels
Affordable and includes Stamps.com account
- Monthly fees: Plans range from $9 per month for 50 shipments to $159 per month for 10,000 shipments
- Customer support: Email support and community forums available with all plans, email support available with plans starting at $49 per month, phone support only available with $159 per month plan
- Dashboard: Log in to your account from anywhere, manage orders from over 70 possible sales channel integrations, filter and tag orders based on customized color-coded systems, and view reports.
- Automation: Set automation rules such as a default shipping setting for orders meeting specific criteria, or adding tags to certain types of orders. Once you integrate your shopping carts or ecommerce platforms, your orders will also automatically sync with the ShipStation software.
- Shipping labels and packing slips: Customize shipping labels and packing slips with your company logo and information, print in batches or one at a time, connect to printers and scales, automatically print return labels to include in each order.
- Mobile app: ShipStation has a mobile app for iOS and Android where you can check reports, view and manage orders, get shipping quotes, resend tracking information, receive push notifications, and communicate with customers. The app also has a barcode scanning feature.
- Shipping carriers: USPS (including free Stamps.com membership), UPS, FedEx, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP), DHL, and more
- Marketplaces: Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Etsy, Houzz, Sears, and more
- Ecommerce and shopping cart software: BigCommerce, Shopify, WooCommerce, Squarespace, Wix, Magento, Square, Weebly, Volusion, and more
- Other: QuickBooks, Zendesk, PayPal, StitchLabs, Mailchimp, Cratejoy, and more
ShipBob: Best Fulfillment Software for Outsourcing Order Fulfillment
If your business has grown too big for you to fulfill all of your customer orders, or if you want to save time by outsourcing the process, ShipBob offers order fulfillment service and software with a nationwide network of warehouses and ground shipping carriers. ShipBob’s order management software is free for all customers, so you can connect your sales channels and get full visibility into your inventory and orders.
This option is best for businesses processing more than a few dozen orders per day. Using a solution like ShipBob means you don’t have to invest in permanent warehouse space or hire additional employees. It’s a flexible option that accommodates seasonal spikes while still being affordable for small to medium-sized businesses.
Save time fulfilling orders and offer customers nationwide 2-day shipping
Complicated pricing structure
Excellent customer support
Outdated software interface and long page load times
Free order management software with detailed analytics
ShipBob is a full-service fulfillment company. ShipBob’s order management software is free for all of its customers. However, you pay for it to store your products and fulfill your customer’s orders.
- Receiving: Hourly rate of $25 for the first two hours and $40 per hour, per worker after the first two hours
- Storage: Monthly fee of $40 per pallet, $10 per shelf, and $5 per bin
- Pick and pack: Free for first four items in the order, 20 cents per item after the fourth pick. Standard packaging is included for no additional charge.
- Shipping: Varies per order
- Order fulfillment software: View orders by status, see specific timelines for every order, share tracking information with customers, and view reports for shipping costs, days in transit, fulfillment costs per order, and more.
- Fulfillment process: ShipBob stores your products across its network of fulfillment centers using an algorithm that allows products to be shipped to customers quickly and for a low cost by using ground shipping instead of air shipping.
- Inventory management: View inventory counts across every warehouse, set up low-stock and re-order alerts, bundle products, and transfer between warehouses.
- Packaging and shipping: Plain packaging is included or you can use branded packaging, track orders as soon as they ship, and automatically manage returns.
- Shipping carriers: USPS, UPS, DHL, FedEx, and more
- Ecommerce platforms: Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace, WooCommerce, Magento, and more
- Online marketplace: eBay, Walmart, Amazon, and more
Brightpearl: Best Order Fulfillment Software for Medium-Large Businesses
Brightpearl is an omnichannel retail software designed to automate the order fulfillment and inventory management process. It’s designed for larger, growing retailers and wholesalers that are managing warehouses full of products and needing to fulfill orders coming in through multiple sales channels.
Unlike ShipBob, which provides software and the service of storing, picking, packing, and shipping orders, Brightpearl is just a software. It’s ideal for businesses managing several warehouses full of products, many sales channels, and processing over $1 million annually in sales.
Easy to use considering the complexity of data
Most expensive software in this guide
Holistic solution: Manage inventory, orders, fulfillment, purchase orders, POS, and reporting all in one platform
Designed for businesses trading more than $1 million annually
Automated reporting and accounting
No published pricing
Brightpearl offers every business a custom quote and does not publish pricing.
- Software: The multichannel fulfillment software has plenty of automation tools, demand forecasting, real-time insights into SKU-level inventory data, built-in accounting tools specific to retail, purchase and vendor management, CRM tools, and a POS system for processing in-person sales.
- Inventory storage: Inventory levels are automatically updated in real-time, manage returns, transfer stock between warehouses, and access data like sales trends and seasonality to forecast demand to order the right amount of products. You can also connect with dropshipping suppliers, so orders are sent directly to them.
- Order fulfillment: Brightpearl has 25 different automation conditions that allow delivery times and shipping rates to calculate automatically based on the customer’s location and the product they are buying.
- Reporting and data: Enterprise resource planning system designed for medium-sized businesses with accounting reports, insights on product performance, profit margins, turnover, and more.
- Shipping carriers: FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL
- Ecommerce platforms: Shopify, Shopify Plus, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, NuOrder
- Online marketplaces: Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Jet
- Other: QuickBooks, Xero, Stripe, Vend POS, Mailchimp, PayPal, and more
Zoho Inventory: Free Order Fulfillment Software for Occasional Sellers
Zoho Inventory is a multi-channel inventory management software for processing orders, tracking inventory, managing shipping, and accounting tools. It’s completely free for up to 20 online orders per month, including shipping labels and tracking, making it a great fit for small and occasional online sellers.
The free price point makes Zoho Inventory an excellent option for very small operations. However, Zoho also has limited integrations (it only works with Shopify and Zoho as ecommerce platforms and has fewer shipping options), and the pricing structure for paid plans is confusing. If you are using an ecommerce platform other than Shopify or processing more than 20 orders per month, consider using ShipStation or ShipBob.
Zoho Inventory Strengths
Zoho Inventory Weaknesses
Very easy to use
Confusing pricing structure
Excellent value for small businesses
Fewer and less sophisticated automations and reporting tools
Zoho Inventory Pricing
- Monthly fee: Four plans ranging from $0 for 20 online orders/month—$199 for 30,000 online orders/month.
- Shipping labels: The free plan includes 20 shipping labels/month, and the other paid plans include 150, 1000, and 3000 labels, respectively. The number of shipping labels doesn’t line up with the number of online orders included in each plan, which is what makes Zoho’s pricing confusing. You can purchase an additional 50 labels for $5.
- Shipment tracking: Zoho’s shipment tracking follows the same pattern as the shipping labels—meaning it doesn’t line up with the number of included orders.
Zoho Inventory Features
- Automated workflows: The free plan includes up to five automated workflows such as ordering products from suppliers or drafting a purchase order once the inventory count falls below a certain threshold.
- Product resourcing and receiving: Record items received from vendors at your warehouse, track billing and stock levels, and integrate with dropshipping suppliers (though Brightpearl has more robust dropshipping features).
- Order fulfillment and tracking: Create shipping labels and packing slips, manage order statuses, fulfill partial orders, get real-time shipping rates, and provide tracking information to customers.
- Reverse logistics: Zoho’s return management system is a fairly manual process compared to other solutions. In order to accept a return, it needs to be associated with a sales order. Then choose to restock the item and offer a refund or credit.
- Reporting: View reports on inventory stock levels, sales and customer reports, activity logs, purchase and payment data, and more in a user-friendly dashboard. However, Zoho is limited to the First-in, First Out (FIFO) method for valuing inventory. All reports can be exported into spreadsheets or PDF.
- Mobile app: Zoho has an iOS and Android mobile app for viewing real-time updates on order statuses, sales activity, and inventory summaries from anywhere.
Zoho Inventory Integrations
- Shipping carriers: FedEx, UPS, DHL
- Ecommerce platforms: Zoho only directly integrates with Shopify and Zoho Commerce. Using a third-party tool, you can connect with BigCommerce, PrestaShop, WooCommerce, and Magento.
- Online marketplaces: Amazon, eBay, Etsy
- Other: Payments platforms including Stripe and PayPal, plus Zoho’s other software tools including Zoho CRM
There’s no one-size-fits-all method for fulfilling customer orders. The best options vary for every business based on your size, item type, and how much time you want to spend processing orders. However, for most small sellers wanting to pack and ship orders themselves, a shipping software like ShipStation offers a great value for streamlining order management into one dashboard with discounted shipping, shipment tracking, and auto-generated packing lists and shipping labels.