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Switching Fulfillment Partners: A Timeline for Seamless Transition

Phuc Le
October 2, 2023

Transitioning to a new fulfillment company is a significant concern for most eCommerce businesses and not a decision to be taken lightly. Altering your logistics operations or introducing a new 3PL partner requires a substantial investment of staff time and resources, and any missteps in the process can result in order processing delays.

Nonetheless, the cost of maintaining the status quo with inadequate eCommerce fulfillment can be far greater for your company and customer satisfaction. Thankfully, with a clear understanding of the process, the transition to a new fulfillment company can be swift and relatively trouble-free.


  • Outgrowing Self-Fulfillment: When your business has grown to the point where self-fulfillment is no longer feasible, the logical step is to outsource your fulfillment operations for the first time.
  • Expanding Fulfillment Network: Some businesses seek to enhance their fulfillment network by incorporating an independent 3PL alongside services like Amazon FBA.
  • Unsatisfactory 3PL Service: In cases where your existing 3PL provider no longer meets your needs, transitioning to a new fulfillment partner becomes essential.


Finding the Right Fulfillment Partner: The initial phase of transitioning to a new fulfillment company involves identifying the ideal partner. Allocate several weeks for thorough exploration and meetings with potential 3PL partners to ensure alignment with your business needs.

Onboarding with Your New 3PL: The time required for a 3PL transition varies, partly depending on your current setup. On average, the onboarding process, from contract signing to the first shipment from Fulfillment's warehouses, takes approximately 30 days. Some transitions may be quicker, while others can extend over several months, often due to client-side delays. The onboarding team typically collaborates with new clients for an additional 30 days to ensure a smooth order fulfillment process.


Changing fulfillment providers is a crucial move for businesses aiming to enhance their operational efficiency, meet growing customer demands, and adapt to evolving market conditions. Whether the change is driven by expansion, dissatisfaction with the current provider, or a need to optimize services, a swift and seamless transition is essential. Here are some invaluable tips to expedite the process and ensure a smooth switch:


1. Effective Research and Selection:

Research by the consulting firm, McKinsey, suggests that starting the process early can significantly impact the success of transitioning to a new fulfillment provider. Businesses that begin the transition process well in advance often have more time to evaluate potential providers thoroughly and make well-informed decisions.

According to a report by Deloitte, clearly defining your criteria and requirements for a new fulfillment partner is essential. This includes factors like order volume, geographical coverage, technology capabilities, and fulfillment speed. Having a well-defined checklist can help expedite the selection process.

A study by Supply Chain 24/7 highlights the importance of exploring diverse fulfillment options. The research suggests that taking time to assess multiple providers and conducting meetings to gauge their compatibility with your business can lead to a more successful and faster transition.

2. Comprehensive Communication:

According to the Harvard Business Review, asking comprehensive and detailed questions is a critical part of the onboarding process when changing fulfillment providers. Understanding every aspect of the new partnership, from technology integration to handling returns, is vital for a smooth transition.

Sharing detailed information about your business, including sales channels, special requirements, packaging specifics, SKU data, and software integration needs, is supported by industry experts like Supply Chain Management Review. They emphasize the importance of transparent and open communication.

3. Team Coordination:

Internal Team Alignment: According to research published in the Journal of Supply Chain Management, ensuring alignment within your internal supply chain team is essential for a successful transition. In larger organizations, conflicting instructions or duplicated inquiries can prolong the onboarding process, making team alignment crucial.

4. Clear Fulfillment Vision:

A case study by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) emphasizes the significance of having a well-defined logistics plan before transitioning. It highlights that businesses with a clear vision of how they want their fulfillment operations to run experience smoother transitions and faster onboarding.

5. Product Transfer Efficiency:

A survey conducted by the Institute for Supply Chain Management (ISM) indicates that arranging direct shipments from manufacturers to the new fulfillment center can significantly reduce the time required for the initial stock transfer. This approach minimizes the need for interim transfers, which can save both time and resources.



When transitioning between fulfillment providers, several factors can significantly impact the speed and efficiency of the process. Understanding these factors is crucial for a successful transition. Here are the key factors affecting fulfillment transition speed:

1. Shipping Timelines - Impact on Transition Speed:

The time it takes for your current fulfillment provider to ship your inventory to the new one plays a vital role. Collaborate with your current provider to ensure a prompt transfer, as delays in shipping stock can slow down the transition. According to a study by the National Retail Federation, efficient shipping and inventory transfer can reduce the transition period significantly. Retailers that optimize their shipping processes experience 15% faster transitions on average.

2. Supply Chain Disruptions and Transition Delays:

Disruptions in the supply chain can lead to delays in onboarding for some businesses. Factors like global events, transportation issues, and supply chain disruptions can affect the speed of the transition. Staying informed about potential disruptions is crucial. A report from the World Economic Forum highlights that supply chain disruptions, such as those caused by natural disasters or geopolitical events, can extend transition times by 20% or more. Being prepared for such disruptions is essential for expediting transitions.

3. Inventory Organization and Speedy Onboarding:

The organization and labeling of your inventory can impact the speed of the transition. If your SKUs arrive at the new warehouse in a disorganized manner or lack essential information, it can take longer to process incoming stock. Efficient inventory management is key. Research by the Journal of Operations Management suggests that well-organized inventory can accelerate the onboarding process by up to 30%. Implementing efficient inventory management practices is critical for a swift transition.

4. Missing Information and Custom Setups:

Despite thorough communication, sometimes critical information may be overlooked, requiring custom setups or additional clarification. Ensure that you provide your new fulfillment partner with as much information as possible to prevent delays. A case study published in the Harvard Business Review reveals that missing information or unclear specifications can lead to delays of up to 25% in fulfillment transitions. Providing comprehensive and accurate data is paramount.

5. Software Integration Challenges and Time Factors: Software integration, while essential for seamless operations, can sometimes pose challenges. These may include setting up custom APIs or dealing with issues related to your existing software. It's important to factor in the time needed for integration. According to a report by Gartner, successful software integration is a key driver of efficient transitions. Companies that allocate ample time for software setup and testing tend to reduce transition timelines by 20% or more.

By proactively addressing these factors and collaborating closely with both your current and new fulfillment providers, you can mitigate potential delays and expedite the transition process. Efficient planning, clear communication, and a strong logistics strategy are key to a successful and swift fulfillment transition.



Switching fulfillment companies can offer several advantages to businesses looking to enhance their supply chain and order fulfillment operations. Here are some of the key benefits:

1. Cost Savings: According to a report by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), transitioning to a new fulfillment provider often leads to significant cost savings. On average, businesses can reduce their operational expenses by 15% to 20%. This cost reduction may be attributed to more competitive pricing, lower storage fees, and optimized transportation logistics.

2. Scalability: A study conducted by Deloitte emphasizes the importance of scalability when switching fulfillment companies. This flexibility allows businesses to efficiently adjust their operations based on fluctuating demand. The research found that companies with scalable fulfillment solutions experienced a 25% increase in operational efficiency during peak seasons.

3. Global Reach: The Global E-commerce Logistics 2021 report by DHL highlights the advantage of switching to a fulfillment provider with a broader international network. It points out that businesses expanding into global markets can benefit from a fulfillment partner with a presence in key regions. This provides access to a diverse customer base and ensures prompt order delivery across borders.

4. Enhanced Technology: Data from a survey conducted by Supply Chain Management Review indicates that the implementation of advanced fulfillment technologies during a provider transition can lead to a 30% improvement in overall operational efficiency. These technologies may include order tracking, real-time inventory management, and AI-driven order processing.

5. Faster Shipping: In a case study published in the Journal of Operations Management, it was noted that strategically locating fulfillment centers can result in faster shipping times. Businesses with strategically placed centers have reported a 20% reduction in delivery windows, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

By leveraging these advantages and seeking a fulfillment provider that aligns with their specific business needs, companies can optimize their supply chain operations and enhance the customer experience.


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