InsightQuote’s 2021 Fulfillment Costs and Pricing Annual Survey Results

2021 Fulfillment Survey, the preeminent name in fulfillment matchmaking services, is pleased to announce the results of our 2021 Warehousing and Fulfillment Pricing and Costs Survey. From year to year, tracks key industry data with an eye towards the future of warehousing, logistics, and 3PL. This year’s survey results identified a strong correlation between price-per-square-foot leased and profits. As in past years, the cost of running a warehouse rose slightly from $7.81 to $7.91 per-square-foot. However, corporate profit margins remained in lockstep with costs, rising from 9.77% to 11% in 2021.

In a year fraught with upheaval and uncertainty, the industry persisted, maintaining a reasonable level of growth and progress.     

About the Annual Warehousing and Fulfillment Costs Survey

Every year, engages our vast network of the best fulfillment companies and warehousing partners regarding the state of industry costs and pricing. For the 2021 survey, we interviewed more than 600 strategic partners, and we are pleased to announce that we had a record number of responses this year. 

For the sake of confidentiality, we do not record individual warehouse names alongside their respective responses. To gain the wealth of data we did while ensuring fidelity to the resulting metrics, we examined all responses considered to be significant outliers and only included results that fell within a predetermined range of averages. It should be noted that our area of focus is North America, with 94% of respondents being in the United States, with the remainder located in Canada.    

Key Metrics Identified Within the Survey

The year we’ve seen a nationwide surge in e-commerce fulfillment. A record amount of products flowed through distribution centers. This surge has in turn put additional stress on warehousing, logistics, and distribution-related jobs, causing warehousing costs and prices to rise steadily alongside.

In terms of warehousing cost increases, the following metrics are especially notable.

Warehousing Costs Rose Consistently

  • The square-foot cost to lease storage space rose to $7.91 
  • The average hourly rate of frontline warehouse staff rose from $13.47 to $14.00
  • The average yearly salary for managerial staff rose from $52,765 to $55,854  

As costs rose for warehouse owners, so did the prices they charge for their logistical expertise. Over the past year, we saw those prices increase in proportion to costs incurred by the warehouse. Interestingly, while less companies overall raised their prices, those that did increased them at a more aggressive rate than in previous years. 

Fulfillment Prices Showed Mixed Results

  • 61% of respondents increased their prices regularly (-8% from previous year)
  • Those who increased prices did so by 5.59% (+2.29% from previous year) 
  • Pick and pack rates rose slightly from $2.96 to $3.13 for D2C
  • B2B order costs remained static at $4.27 for a single item

Through this year’s survey we were also able to glean significant information about industry-wide storage fees and common practices. 

Storage Fees Showed Modest Increases

  • 93% of warehouses charge storage by the pallet
  • The average cost was $14.79/ pallet or $0.45/ cubic foot
  • Climate controlled storage averaged $17.99/ pallet, $0.64/ cubic foot
  • 49% of respondents offer discounts based on bulk storage needs

Finally, the survey was useful in identifying common shipping prices and trends across the industry as well. 

Shipping Discounts and Other Miscellaneous Fees Increased

  • 64% of respondents offer a cost-plus pricing model while 37% offer discounted rates
  • Those who offered discounts averaged a 19.28% reduction off the published rate
  • For international customers, that discount rose to 24.18%
  • 95% charge return fees of product with the average being $5.28/ return
  • 95% also charge receiving fees which ranged from $441/ container to $2.58/ SKU

The Future of the Warehouse Fulfillment Industry

Despite a turbulent year which featured explosive ecommerce volume, costs and prices rose steadily in proportion to one another as they have in past years. As new technology comes to market and the ecommerce channel continues to flourish, expect rapid change to continue in subsequent years. Until next year’s survey, will continue to analyze the information gained from our extensive network of warehousing partners in order to bring actionable data to help you streamline your company’s logistics.