Top Cities For eCommerce Fulfillment

Allison Champion
5 min read
February 4, 2019
Modified: April 13, 2023

Consumers have high expectations, and now more than ever do those expectations dictate the operations of eCommerce retailers. From what they want, to where and when they want it, the consumer determines the parameters in which every eCommerce retailer must operate to stay in business.

From shipping and warehousing to delivery times and the cost of rent, eCommerce retailers must juggle the cost of operations with the difficulties of meeting customer expectations.

Luckily, consumers are reasonably easy to predict, and the data shows that consumers want everything right now, and they want it be affordable. Thus, the key to servicing eCommerce customers is quick, affordable shipping.

To lower shipping costs and decrease delivery time, an eCommerce fulfillment center needs to be as close to their customer base as possible. Thus, the city in which an eCommerce retailer chooses to establish their fulfillment operations is key to meeting customer expectations.

Why are Some Cities Better for eCommerce Fulfillment than Others?

Some cities are better for eCommerce fulfillment than others due to their proximity to an e-retailers customer base. The closer an eCommerce fulfillment center is to its customers the faster its deliveries.

The point of locating a fulfillment center in a large city is to rapidly reach the customers who live there. However, due to the online, global nature of eCommerce, it’s uncommon for e-retailers to service just one geographically convenient customer base. Related: How Do Fulfillment Centers Work?

What are the Top Cities for eCommerce Fulfillment?

Ideally, fulfillment centers should be located where you can most efficiently ship to the greatest number of customers; preferably where you can offer same-day or two-day delivery to the greatest amount of people.

However, in most cases the geographic market serviced by an eCommerce retailer is tremendous. In which case the difficulty of delivering a package within 1-2 days increases with distance. The key to avoiding this conundrum is storing inventory in a select number of cities across the country.

Therefore, an eCommerce retailer must also consider a cities proximity to a commercial port or airport, as well as the cost of land, labor, and transportation before selecting where to locate their fulfillment center.

In that regard, these cities are considered to be the top cities for eCommerce fulfillment in the United States.

Seattle, Washington

As the home to eCommerce retailers like Amazon, it’s no surprise Seattle is considered to be a top city for eCommerce fulfillment.

With access to the Pacific Northwest and a bustling port, Seattle is the perfect location to service customers in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, and even Eastern Montana and British Columbia.

Edison, New Jersey

eCommerce fulfillment centers in Edison, New Jersey benefit from direct access to the largest population center in the United States, as well as one of the busiest commercial ports in the world, and easy inland transportation options.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Centrally located with Chicago not far away, Indianapolis is a hot spot for fulfillment operations in the Midwest and one of the most affordable places to conduct eCommerce fulfillment operations.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is home to the nation’s two busiest ports; the Port of LA and the Port of Long Beach. However, due to the proximity of warehouse spaces in the area, the cost of land and labor in Los Angeles is often significantly higher than in the surrounding area.

Denver, Colorado

Denver is the transportation hub of the Rockies and a critical stopover for any shipment delivering on the other side of the mountains.

Dallas, Texas

As one of the largest population centers in the United States, and easy access to Mexico, it’s no wonder Dallas is one of the top cities for eCommerce fulfillment.

Chicago, Illinois

Historically speaking, Chicago is the distribution hub of the country. Located at the crossroads of the country, Chicago is the biggest rail hub in the United States, home to the busiest airports and thousands of shipping, warehousing, and fulfillment operations.

Louisville & Lexington Kentucky

Louisville and Lexington Kentucky are considered two of the top cities of eCommerce fulfillment due to historically low rent, and a central location between population centers in the Midwest, East Coast and South East.

The same can be said for Nashville Tennessee and Columbus Ohio.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta is the top fulfillment center city in the South East thanks to the historically low cost of doing business and its proximity to the ports of Savannah, Charleston, Tampa Bay, and Miami.

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Situated only a short drive from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey, Allentown is the best location for eCommerce retailers looking to access the North East while saving on rent.

Orlando, Florida

Located smack dab in the middle of Florida, fulfillment centers in Orlando benefit from access to the ports of Miami and Tampa Bay and the historically low market cost of shipping freight out of Florida.

Reno, Nevada

Nevada is geographically huge and mostly empty. Except for major population centers in Reno and Las Vegas, there is little else in Nevada than sand.

Reno, situated at the end of a long and desolate interstate, and only a short drive from the state line promises a cheap cost of transportation and easy access to population centers in California.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City is in the perfect location to provide eCommerce retailers access to population centers in the Southwest while avoiding the expensive cost of land and labor in other Southwestern Cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Lawrence & Kansas City, Kansas

Located in the center of the country, with easy access to population centers in St Louis, Chicago, and even Oklahoma City, Kansas City is a transportation crossroads and a historically affordable location to locate a fulfillment center.

Final Thoughts

Where you choose to locate your eCommerce fulfillment center can make or break a successful eCommerce retailer.

By utilizing on-demand warehousing, eCommerce retailers can position their fulfillment shipping locations in whichever cities will most effectively respond to demand without exerting the extra cost, time and effort of securing additional warehousing and transportation for their inventory.

Let Flowspace help you get into a fulfillment center close to your customers to reduce shipping costs today!

Written By:

flowspace author Allison Champion

Allison Champion

Allison Champion leads marketing communication at Flowspace, where she works to develop content that addresses the unique challenges facing modern brands in omnichannel eCommerce. She has more than a decade of experience in content development and marketing.