How much do fulfillment centers charge

How much do fulfillment centers charge

The places to fill orders, referred to as fulfillment centers or third-party logistics (3PL) providers, have a significant part in handling the logistical aspects of order completion. So how much do fulfillment centers charge and what elements affect their prices? The following article explores the expenses connected to fulfillment centers.

Key Takeaways

  • Fulfillment center costs are influenced by order volume, product characteristics, and service levels.
  • Common fees include setup, intake, storage, fulfillment, shipping, and returns handling.
  • Strategic negotiations, inventory management, and efficient packaging can reduce costs.

Fulfillment center services

Fulfillment centers have various services that make it easier to get products, keep them, and send them to customers.

Inventory management

Fulfillment centers apply modern systems for monitoring stock levels constantly, guaranteeing precise order completion. It involves automatic stock updates, prediction, and reordering functions along with barcode or RFID scanning methods.


Storage solutions can cater to different types of products. For items that react to temperature and humidity, there exist storage locations with climate control. These spaces can manage such conditions and keep the products safe. Furthermore, organized shelving and racking systems maximize space use while enhancing the retrieval efficiency of stored items.

Order processing

Order processing goes through many stages. Selecting and packing means picking the right items, and then preparing them for shipment by packaging them correctly as per the specifications of an order. Most fulfillment centers can make special requests such as adding personal notes or gift wraps.


Shipping choices are numerous with fulfillment centers, as they work together with an assortment of carriers. These centers also provide global delivery services. You can choose consolidated shipping to lessen your shipping costs. This means combining multiple orders into one single shipment for delivery.


Returns handling

To deal with returns, using special authorization codes makes the return process more efficient. Check returned items to see if they are in good condition and put them back into stock.

Common fulfillment center fees

Setup fees

These fees are one-time for starting up the service. The usual range is between $100 to $1,000. This can show how intricate system integrations and initial account setup might be.

Intake fees

This is for taking in and handling inventory. The hourly cost may be between $20 to $50 based on the complexity and level of handling. For each item processed, the per-unit charge might come to around $0.25 each with pallet fees varying from $5-$15 per pallet size range.

Storage fees

The charges, usually found on the space occupied by the inventory, can be anywhere from $5 to $40 per pallet a month or around $0.30 – $0.55 for each cubic foot.

Fulfillment fees

This includes costs for pick and pack, and getting ready orders to be sent out. The usual labor charges are about $0.25 to $3 per item or around $3-$5 per order if it’s more complicated operations. Special packaging or assembly can increase expenses by an additional amount between $1-$5 for each order.

Shipping fees

The fees can depend on carrier rates, product measurements, and where it from. Carrier rates might begin from about $5 for small, light domestic packages, increasing with size, weight, and distance covered in transit. High-volume shippers could get 10% to 30% discounts from fulfillment centers.

Return fees

The fee for processing returns could be an hourly rate ranging between $30 and $50 or a fixed amount of $2 to $5 per return.

Kitting fees

When you have to assemble many products into one package, assembling kits might cost $1 to $5 per kit.

Account management fees

The account management fees can be between $75 to $200 each month.

Additional fees

Custom packaging: Special packaging could cost an additional $1 to $10 per unit.

Labeling and marking: Personalized labeling might add $0.10 to $1 per label.

Special treatment: Prices for high-value or dangerous items may be between $5 and $50 each.

Inbound shipping: Goods receiving can incur charges ranging from $8 to $15 per pallet or $0.25 per item.

Insurance: Insurance costs may range from 0.1% to 1% of the total amount.

Integration Fees: System integration might have one-time fees ranging from $500 up to $5,000. Alternatively, there could be monthly charges that fall between the range of $20 per month to $100 per month.

Calculating fulfillment costs

To calculate the full cost of using a fulfillment center, you need to think about fixed and variable expenses.

Storage requirements: Calculate the cubic footage or pallet space your inventory will take up. For instance, if you have 1,000 units and each unit is 1 cubic foot, then you will need storage of 1,000 cubic feet.

Order volume: Estimate the number of orders per month, using historical data or market research. If you think you will be handling 10,000 orders, it’s possible that higher volumes could make you eligible for bulk discounts on fulfillment and shipping.

Fee structures: Centers for fulfillment might provide itemized or bundled pricing. Get clear on these differences and how they relate to your particular requirements.

Per-order costs: Sum the intake, fulfillment, and shipping fees per order.

Fixed costs: Include setup, monthly account management, and any other fixed fees.

Factors affecting fulfillment costs

Order volume: Higher volumes can lead to discounts.

Product characteristics: Size, weight, and type of product affect storage and shipping costs.

Fulfillment speed: Expedited shipping options usually come with a premium.

Storage duration: Longer storage periods have higher fees.

Service level: Additional services like kitting, assembly, or personalized packaging will increase costs.

Tips for reducing fulfillment costs

Strategic negotiations: Utilize the quantity of your business’s orders as a bargaining to acquire more beneficial rates. Also, contemplate agreeing to long-term contracts for potentially improved pricing factors.

Level up inventory: Maintain control of storage charges by lowering the volume of sluggish inventory and applying “just-in-time” inventory methods.

Streamline packaging: Smaller, lighter packaging reduces shipping and storage costs without compromising product safety.

Streamline Packaging

Choose key locations: Opt for fulfillment centers near your customer base or transportation junctions to reduce shipping duration and expenses.

Make use of fulfillment center: Use multi-carrier shipping choices and automated systems to cut down on labor and processing expenses.

Shipping cost: Analyze and lessen the shipping cost by bargaining with carriers for improved rates and grouping shipments to decrease per-unit shipping fees.

Choose products that can handle the cost of fulfillment better, focusing on those with higher profit margins to increase your chances of success. Steer clear from items requiring more handling.

Enhance returns management: Streamline the process of making returns and utilize return data for enhancing product quality and lessening return rates.

Acceptance of technology: Spend on warehouse management systems and utilize data analytics for best effect in operations and mistake reduction.

Dropshipping: Team up with dropshipping service providers. This way, you can get rid of inventory expenses at the start and lessen storage fees.


What is a typical fulfillment fee?

A fulfillment fee is what you pay for picking, packing, and making ready to send out an order. Often, this fee gets charged per order or item and it can differ significantly based on the service, how complicated your orders are, and the pricing model.

In general, these fees may fall within a range of $2 to $5 for each single order. But there might exist cases where they become costly due to complexities in orders such as requiring special packaging or faster processing timeframes.

What is the fulfillment rate of an order?

The order fulfillment rate is a measurement of order fulfillment. It shows how many customer orders are successfully processed, picked, packed, and sent within a specific period. It represents the efficiency of operations and service to customers. When we see a high fulfillment rate, it suggests good inventory handling and processing orders leading to meeting customer demands quickly.

On the other hand, a low rate might imply problems like inefficiency in handling orders or lack of stock. This can cause delays in sending out products. For e-commerce businesses, this rate is crucial because it affects customer satisfaction.

How much does warehouse fulfillment cost?

The costs for warehouse fulfillment involve paying rent, worker wages, managing inventory, and packaging and shipping costs. These costs hold great importance for businesses dealing with e-commerce because they affect their profit-making capacity.

Usually, the fulfillment expenses could fall between some dollars to more than twenty dollars for every order. To accurately assess costs, you need to comprehend the fee structure and negotiate with fulfillment centers for the best pricing options.