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"Oh Ship!" Moments Series: Biggest 3PL eCommerce Shipping and Fulfillment Disasters

By:
Rakuten Super Logistics
July 21, 2020

During our “Oh Ship!” moments contest, we have heard some of the biggest shipping and fulfillment failures from eCommerce retailers working with our competitors. Using both in-house and outsourced methods, these eCommerce sellers struggled with damaged products, incorrect orders, wrong delivery addresses, and increased shipping costs. Here are horror stories from three online retailers.

“Our 3PL held our merchandise hostage.” - Online Retailer

Your shipping partner should be making your life easier as an eCommerce seller. That was not the case for this business. This online retailer told us one of the worst shipping fiascos we’ve heard. Here’s what CEO Kenneth Woodruff shared.

“Our fulfillment company was sold and communication with them came to a halt within 30 days of the new business taking over. As a result, none of our items shipped and were stuck in their warehouses. Finally, two months later, we were able to get in contact with someone and put a release in for our inventory. Within two weeks, our products were finally sent out to our customers. This failure cost us thousands of dollars and resulted in dozens of angry customers.”

“My 3PL received my inventory in the wrong unit of measure.” - eCommerce Retailer

It’s important to work with a shipping and fulfillment company that pays close attention to detail. This retailer experienced a costly “Oh Ship!” moment as a result of working with the wrong eCommerce shipping partner. Here’s the story CEO Jennifer Lee, shared with us.

“My shipping partner misread the labels and received my products as cases instead of units. When orders were coming through, my 3PL mistakenly started sending out cases of our product to customers instead of units. Each case had a total of 13 units. One customer who ordered eight units ended up receiving 104 units instead! Although a handful of lucky customers ended up with free inventory, it cost our business a large chunk of our budget.”

“Our 3PL cost us thousands extra in shipping costs.” - Beauty Retailer

When using an outsourced shipping partner, most retailers expect to save money on shipping and fulfillment costs. However, beauty brand CEO Stacy Akinpelu-Morris experienced a huge “Oh Ship!” moment with her 3PL that left her with a hefty shipping bill. Here’s the story she shared.

“Our brand carries popular mini cosmetic products. As a result of increased orders, we were quickly outgrowing my mother’s living room where I was doing my own fulfillment. To help meet our new demands, we decided to switch over to a fulfillment company, but it wasn’t a smooth transition.  When uploading the information about the dimensions of our products, extra zeros were added to the listed product length dimensions. On shipping day, I noticed that hundreds of orders were being dispatched to a premium carrier. Our fulfillment partner’s office was closed, and I couldn’t get through to anyone to solve the problem. 

Weeks later, our fulfillment bill came in the mail and showed extra zeros on the cost too! The system had assigned our products to a premium carrier because of the incorrect product length and significantly increased our shipping costs. The worst part was no one at the shipping company even noticed the error. As a young business slapped with a heavy bill this was horrible, but we managed to work through it and came out the other side alive! We certainly never made any mistakes like this again.”

The lesson all three of these retailers learned is to shop around for the right shipping partner and avoid working with an unreliable 3PL. Experienced shipping companies like Rakuten Super Logistics could have helped these eCommerce sellers efficiently manage their shipping and fulfillment while eliminating errors and cutting down on costs. 

Do you have an “Oh Ship!” moment bigger than these stories? We want to hear it! 

Submit your “Oh Ship” moment by July 31st for a chance to win $7,000 in cash prizes!


Rakuten Super Logistics (RSL) is the leader in eCommerce order fulfillment services and freight brokerage. RSL offers national fulfillment services and a network of 15 US fulfillment centers located in Anaheim (CA), Atlanta (GA), Austin (TX), Chicago (IL), Denver (CO), Houston (TX), Las Vegas (NV), Miami (FL), Olean (NY), Reno (NV), Salt Lake City (UT), and Scranton (PA). Their state-of-the-art technology allows for integration with popular shopping cart platforms and online marketplaces including Amazon, Big Commerce, Channel Advisor, eBay, Magento, ShipStation, Shopify, Volusion, Walmart Marketplace, and WooCommerce. RSL offers modern fulfillment solutions for leading eCommerce retailers focused on reducing shipping costs, improving order accuracy, decreasing shipping times, and increasing customer satisfaction.