This comprehensive seller's guide to Shopify fulfillment is jam-packed with all the best information to help you run your Shopify store’s fulfillment services smoothly. We want you to provide your shoppers with an efficient fulfillment process that supports their shopping and shipping desires.
In this guide, we will explain the Shopify fulfillment process, the three methods of fulfillment, and the tools you can use to make it easier for your business.
Shopify Is Here To Stay!
Over the last couple of years, more eCommerce platforms and stores have opened their virtual doors to the public. The competition is on as companies race to set themselves ahead of the curve and make their impact in an increasingly demanding eCommerce climate.
Besides tough competition in online sales, merchants also face higher demands from shoppers. Modern buyers demand speedier shipping and package delivery. For your company, this means you have to improve your inventory management, use the Shopify admin for order management, and much more.
It also means you have to think carefully about your fulfillment- which fulfillment service you use, how to better manage your fulfillment center, and much more. Let’s take a look.
What Is Shopify Fulfillment?
Fulfillment isn't the most glamorous part of running an online store. Unfortunately, every Shopify seller has to deal with everyday fulfillment tasks, such as packing and shipping products and managing shipping costs.
In simple terms, eCommerce fulfillment is the process of selecting the goods that shoppers ordered, packaging them, and shipping them to their destination.
This can be a complex and tiresome process for your business, especially as your company grows. The exact costs can also vary depending on various factors, including the choices you make about how to manage your fulfillment.
The Three Methods Of Shopify Fulfillment
There are three popular methods of Shopify fulfillment. Deciding which solution works best for your Shopify store depends on your products, the quantity ordered, the number of orders, order destinations, and more.
1. Automatic Shopify Fulfillment
This is the most popular fulfillment method for larger eCommerce companies. With this type of fulfillment, sellers don't have to monitor their orders constantly. You can work with a third-party fulfillment service that automates the entire fulfillment process for you.
Sellers send their stock to a third-party warehouse called fulfillment warehouses or distribution centers. They keep these products there until an order comes in.
Once the store receives an order, the third-party fulfillment center gets an automatic notification, packages the product, and sends it off to the customer.
One popular automatic fulfillment partner for Shopify stores is the Shopify Fulfillment Network. This fulfillment provider uses machine learning to predict where stock needs to go to fulfill orders faster.
Automated order fulfillment services reduce the pressure on your business as your fulfillment partner takes care of all the logistics, such as inventory management and inventory storage.
Sellers with digital downloads can benefit from using automated fulfillment. Automatic fulfillment is also an excellent option if you don't need to look after stock totals. Otherwise, manual fulfillment is a better option, as it places you, the seller, in control of the entire process.
- Once set up, there are fewer logistics for you to oversee.
- More warehouse space as inventory remains at third-party warehouses.
- Fulfillment centers can provide real-time data on sales and stock levels.
- An additional expense for your company.
- Makes you liable for a penalty fee if products stored at a third-party warehouse aren't sold within a given time.
2. Manual Shopify Fulfillment
Most newcomers to the eCommerce business world start here. Manual or In-House Shopify fulfillment is the simplest way to fulfill orders, and it leaves the seller in control of the entire process.
With the flexibility of manual fulfillment and the support of the right tools, you can completely transform your order management. You can include gifts or use custom packaging to make your products stand out. Doing this enhances the customer experience and builds loyalty and customer satisfaction.
Through manual fulfillment, the Shopify store owner receives a notification of incoming orders. It is their responsibility to select, pick, and package the products for shipping.
For exceptional customer service, you should also keep your customer updated during this entire process. A simple email alerting them that you’ve received their order, packaged it, or dispatched it goes a long way to securing customer loyalty.
For a complete order printer solution, take a look at our Shopify apps to help you manage all of your store’s fulfillment documents. We also have an email design and notification solution to ensure your customers get a top-class service when they purchase from you.
- Less expensive than automatic fulfillment.
- Better control over inventory levels.
- Customized packaging.
- More work as you need to hand-pick the products and prepare them for shipping.
- An increased administrative burden as you need to monitor your inventory levels and storage capacity.
3. Partial Shopify Fulfillment
Partial fulfillment with Shopify is the less-used of these fulfillment methods. Typically, this occurs when a customer orders an out-of-stock product or one that must be manufactured on demand. Merchants will send a partial order to the customer while waiting to complete the back order before completing fulfillment.
This fulfillment method works quite well in both automatic or manual environments. However, it may increase your shipping costs, as sellers have to send two deliveries, or more, to the customer.
- Lower stock investment, as you can manufacture goods on demand.
- Requires less warehouse space.
- Reduced inventory storage fees.
- Delayed or slower order fulfillment may turn customers away from your shop.
- Increased pressure to work under tight deadlines to complete orders and manage your supply chain.
Handy Tips To Make In-House Fulfillment Services Easier
Although it seems like a tricky thing to get right, there are plenty of valuable tools to make the entire fulfillment process run more efficiently.
Ecommerce companies don't need to make use of a complex network of fulfillment centers to satisfy their loyal customers. With proper planning, and the right tools and apps, fulfillment doesn't have to be complicated at all. Here are some handy tips to help you improve your store management.
Print Your Picking List Or Packing Slip
The first step in fulfilling an online order is to print out the picking list or packing slip. If not, make sure you have a portable device where you can access it digitally. This fulfillment document contains a list of all the items in an order, helping you efficiently select and package the correct products for shipping.
You should also print out the shipping labels. The shipping courier will use the label to manage the order delivery, ensuring the items are shipped to the right place.
Send Your Customer A Great Looking Invoice
Customers love getting a professional-looking invoice, whether it is for tax purposes, reimbursements, or just documentation of their purchase. Shopify businesses can make use of an invoice generator like ours to create customized and detailed invoices.
Keep Your Customer In The Loop With Transactional Emails
A well-informed customer is a happy customer. Keep your customers informed with transactional emails as you complete their orders.
Let the customer know that you have received their order. Build excitement and send shoppers an email informing them that their goodies have been picked, packaged, and are on their way. Finally, thank them for their support after shipping and delivery.
You also don't need to be a master wordsmith to craft the perfect notification email. Several apps, such as our popular OrderlyEmails app, can help simplify this fulfillment step.
One of the best ways to build customer loyalty and provide your customers with a pleasant online shopping experience is to streamline your order fulfillment logistics.
Manually fulfilling orders allow you to use custom packaging and even add small gifts for your shoppers. It is a popular shipping process among Shopify merchants. If you’re too busy to do this, you can look at automated or partial fulfillment.
There are also plenty of great apps that can help sellers fine-tune their Shopify fulfillment logistics. From apps that print out the packing slips, and generate professional invoices, to plugins that help automatically keep the customer notified.
As technology is advancing, so too will the solutions to problems faced by merchants. All you have to do is find the right ones to help optimize your processes and build the online business of your dreams.
If you would like to know more about our Shopify in-house fulfillment solutions for order printing, get in touch today.