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Ask HN: Can anyone recommend some fulfillment alternatives to Amazon?
106 points by newyearnewyou on Dec 6, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 39 comments
(I'm aware there are many that can be found on Google search, I want to see if anyone here has any experience with them...)

Haven't used the service personally (though I have received a couple things from them), but the Cards Against Humanity people run a fulfillment company: https://www.blackbox.cool/

At least ~2 years ago, CAH was using the contract logistics services[1] of OHL (now GEODIS).

The Blackbox site mentions it operates "like a co-op". I'm curious if they're still using GEODIS for the actual services and Blackbox is just a passthrough entity for CAH to leverage higher volume for bigger price breaks, or if they're actually operating as a 3PL company themselves now.

[1] http://www.geodis.com/contract-logistics-@/en/view-1860-cate...

Before scrolling I really thought this was a troll URL. Rest of the page saved it :D

Hot damn! My eyes!

I usually downvote-on-sight any comment that includes the phrase, "My eyes!"... because I hate Hacker News' tendency to focus on font kerning nonsense rather than actual content.

But then I clicked on the link, and had to unvote. My eyes!

From the FAQs

> Whoa, that header animation is incredible.

> Isn’t it? Paul Robertson made it for us.


The animation is alright. The color of the font that follows, isn't.

This was the company used by the kickstarter-funded «Secret Hitler» game to send the game to backers.

I sent them an email support on sept 15th regarding my package. Never got an answer. Never got my package either. Experience is awful. I'd never buy or back anything to anyone using them anymore. I wish I knew.

BTW for anyone that is looking into this space, the term I've seen used around is 3PL (AKA Third Party Logistics). Lots of old-school as well as new-age companies that offer this.

Contract Logistics and 4PL are also common terms useful when researching.

The difference tends to be the amount of hand holding and abstraction. With 3PL, you have to know what you're looking for, research 3PL providers that fit those needs, get quotes from them, select the most appropriate one, monitor their ongoing performance, and all that jazz. You essentially still need someone internally with the knowledge to do all of that, even if you're outsourcing the physical infrastructure. Until you hit a certain size, it's a very transactional relationship.

With 4PL, you effectively hire a supply chain/logistics consulting company. They can help you design and streamline your internal processes, they identify the most appropriate 3PL provider for your needs, they leverage their industry relationships and knowledge to get you the best deal you're going to get, they handle the day to day issues that crop up (like pushing back on a provider to expedite a shipment when they screwed up, and getting them to eat the expedite cost instead of passing it through to you).

4PL is more expensive, but you don't know what you don't know. And a 4PL provider teaches you what you don't know, while making sure you don't shoot yourself in the foot during the process.

I've had a positive experience with Whiplash for the past few years: https://www.whiplashmerch.com

Disclaimer: No affiliation with the company other than being a current customer.

The pricing seems cheap if I read it right. I only ship few hundred items per month and it's small enough to fit in my basement room (100 sqft). So I guess storage cost is like $50/mo and $3/item shipping out? That's not bad at all if correct.

If you can do it in your basement keep doing it.

You have fine grained control of your packaging and inserts. These things make a HUGE difference in customer perception and overall happiness. Opening a package should be a joy not a chore, and if you can get a surprise in the box then do it.


I'm working with http://www.direct-outbound.com/ to fulfill orders for Action Tea. It works fairly well, although the shipping prices are a bit tough, but that depends on the volume and the type of deal you negotiate.

I'm paying 1.60 USD per fulfilment item + shipping. And the whole operation is in the US, while I'm sitting in Switzerland and shipping worldwide, without touching the product. I'm doing low-ish numbers, but do know a lot of eCommerce experts who are doing the exact same thing.

I hope that helps!

$1.60 seems too steep sorry. I used few and settled for ship zoom which i had issues in communication but is really cheap for fulfillment : around $0.60

Price does depend on the type of product though, and again: can be negotiated if you have certain amounts of volume.

But if it works for you, great!

There's dozens of 3PLs out there. Without any information its impossible to recommend any. What are your requirements?

Are you bringing your own shipping contracts? Some 3PLs won't let you bring your own. Is being cost efficient on returns a big deal? Do you need multiple warehouses for zone skipping or to optimize on delivery times? Do you care how you interface them(eg: flat file, API)? Are you bringing your own packaging? Do want to optimize on cost or prefer more features?

Every 3PL is different and cater to different markets. For example newgistics specializes in returns and handles returns for a lot of the big companies even though they might not be doing the fulfillment. They also have APIs with their custom WMS(warehouse management system). Some companies have lots automation and technology(pick to light, , sorting machines) and some have none. Automation is very helpful if your sending the same stuff over and the shipments are very similar. Sorting will save you lots of money if you own your own shipping contracts and you can presort your daily orders if you have decent volume.

I've used DCL for a couple of years for shipping large numbers of devices. Recommended.


I've used http://www.shipwire.com/ in the past with a fair amount of happiness. Decent API's, not a horrible cost, and minimal hassles (I had issues with shrink and damage at Amazon warehouses, haven't had the same issues at Shipwire yet).

so someone either stole or otherwise merch in the warehouse. Does Amazon reimburse you for the missing goods?

Haven't used them but they're integrated with a lot of different shipping software and have an API https://www.shipwire.com/

I work with a number of FBA and merchant-fulfilled ecommerce sellers.

If you don't need FBA, don't use them – tons of issues with their co-mingling products from different sellers and damaging and losing products.

I actually can't imaging not using FBA, at least for any product that I want people to buy and that has any competitors.

Amazon Prime free shipping and free returns is a super power. If I'm buying something I'd rather pay a couple dollars more knowing that if something is wrong with it, I can just print a label and throw it back in the mail to return it.

A lot of items are just at that awkward price point where, if they are DOA, they aren't quite worth paying return shipping. And when I buy from Amazon, half the time if something is wrong they'll just send me a new item without even requiring a return. Ended up with an extra 64-ounce "beer growler" because of a faulty lid once. The review system helps enforce good customer service.

I've ordered a lot from Amazon -- and yes, they screw up sometimes. But they're very good about fixing issues.

That said, I'm considering a Kickstarter where I might need to ship out a few hundred posters. Found a local fulfillment house that would charge me $1 for pack-and-ship per item, on top of postage and actual packaging costs. Much cheaper than FBA and, as you point out, less likely to end up with co-mingled items.

wouldn't using fnsku's solve that problem?

I don't have experience with either, but I believe both UPS and FedEx have logistics and fulfillment services. I used to see a lot of online orders coming out of UPS facilities based on the shipping labels.

The only logistics / fulfillment experience I've had so far has been Flexport (excellent BTW). They currently don't do 3PL - but may want to keep an eye on them as they expand.

However, my brother is also big into FBA and just expanded into 3PL - I'll get his info and re-post here when I have it.

FYI - I started a newsletter to cover this stuff. Fast-paced niche, so I figured why not curate the best info and share.


Update - so...my bad. My brother actually uses http://www.zebrapals.com/ which is a logistics company but NOT a fulfillment center. They take your shipment, inspect, label etc. and send to the fulfillment center.

He has had great success with them, if you need those services.

EasyPost is doing fulfillment as well and they are a YC graduate. If you want to get a quote you can reach out to their Head of Fulfillment, Paul Vinuelas, at paulv@easypost.com.

So far they have the simplest and straightforward pricing model. All inclusive rate so you don't have to think of all the fees that the other 3PL companies ding you with.

It's weird that you are talking about yourself in third person ;)

wasn't trying to be weird :)

Could you drop me an e-mail to jon@pimoroni.com please? We're a user of EasyPost already but had no idea you have some fulfilment options available - would love to chat.

Shotput is a YC company that was in the S15 batch that does this. Awesome founders and great company.


ive owned and sold a 3pl back in 2007 and now run a global fulfillment platform - http://goodmove.xyz

we have hooks into multiple warehouses all around the world - mostly in California but a couple in Hong Kong which greatly reduces costs (assuming your manufacturing there).

happy to help people out with questions, etc - mike.kirk@goodmove.xyz

Both FedEx and UPS offer fulfillment services. Both seem to be designed for larger sellers, but ask.

We do that! http://owd.com

Our company, SymphonyCommerce.com, provide Amazon-like infrastructure for eCommerece.

In south africa.. try www.pricecheck.co.za

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