Fulfillment is arguably the major artery that determines the overall health of an eCommerce business. It’s what merchants need to pay attention to when they have products that are ‘flying’ off the shelves and a solid marketing strategy.
However, fulfillment is often a convoluted process that encompasses complex procedures throughout the supply chain; and these procedures always end up defining how clients view a business.
In this guide, we are focusing on fulfilling in Shopify. We want to highlight the most important aspects of fulfilling in Shopify to help Shopify sellers who are looking to take their business to the next level.
3 Ways to Fulfill Your Shopify Orders
Based on the needs of your Shopify store, Shopify has three different options you can use to fulfill the orders you receive:
- Automatic order fulfillment
- Manual order fulfillment
- Partial order fulfillment
1. Automatic Order Fulfillment
Automatic order fulfillment means the process is automated. This process only makes sense if:
- You are using a Third Party fulfillment service
- Your sales do not require packing and shipping. For example, digital downloads
- You do not have any items available for pre-order
2. Manual Order Fulfillment
Manual order fulfillment makes sense for most stores, as it gives them control and the ability to monitor their inventory levels.
When going for the manual order fulfillment feature, ensure you have not selected “Automatic fulfillment under the “Order Processing” section. Manually fulfilling orders allows the seller to be more involved in the ordering and shipping process.
Consider manual fulfillment if:
- You have items available for pre-order
- You manufacture products on order
- You want to offer buyers partial fulfillment without having to worry about issuing refunds
- You run out of stock sometimes
With manual order fulfillment, you will be prompted to send out a shipping notification email to the client as an alert that goods have been shipped.
3. Partial Order Fulfillment
There are instances where a customer has placed an order for multiple products, and one or more of the items in question are out of stock or a pre-order. For example, when you receive an order for a product that is out of stock or on pre-order, yet the buyer has already paid for multiple products; most of which you already have.
You will then be left to fulfill part of the order by shipping the items separately.
Fulfilling Many Orders at Once Manually
Shopify also enables a merchant to fulfill bulk or multiple orders using the same procedures described above. This is through the “bulk actions” feature. This feature is helpful when a customer has placed numerous orders or if there is a queue of orders that are ready to be shipped.
Fulfilling orders for several locations
Then there are cases where a client has placed orders for multiple products and has already paid. But one or more of the items in question are stocked at different locations. In this case, you will fulfill parts of the order separately based on the location of your stock. Start by Setting location priorities.
Canceling a Fulfillment
Pending orders can sometimes be canceled, and if the termination is not from your side, then you should always have a resolution ready.
Choosing your Shipping Strategies
By the time you visit the Orders page on your Shopify admin, you should have already established the shipping strategy you are going to use.
- Handle shipping yourself – You can choose to ship from your home, and either handle labels yourself or automate the process. You can choose between taking your items to the post office, or having them picked up by a courier.
- Outsource your fulfillment – Work with a fulfillment partner to store, ship, and track your packages. They will get a notice when an order has been placed and will take care of the fulfillment process from there.
- Dropship – After an order comes in, it goes directly to your supplier or dropship partner, and they send it directly to the customer. That means you don’t have to worry about inventory at all.
Both dropshipping and third-party fulfillment rely on a fulfillment service, and, therefore, all the fulfillment work is done on your behalf. Self-fulfillment, however, requires that you fulfill orders yourself without the assistance of an outside party.
You must take care of all the technicalities that are involved in deciding the fulfillment cost, packaging, and shipping. Let’s look at these procedures in detail.
How to Calculate Fulfillment Costs
When deciding your shipping rates for Shopify, you have the following options:
- Free Shipping – You can have free shipping on all the orders – by incorporating the shipping fee in your product price. Alternatively, you can have free shipping rules. For example, you can only have free shipping on orders exceeding $100. Free shipping is proven to get the buyer’s attention
- Flat rate shipping – have a fixed rate for shipping based on the weight, destination, or value of the order. For example, charge $6 for all domestic shipments. When considering a flat rate fee, make sure you do not undercharge or overcharge
- Exact Shipping cost – charge customers whatever carries charge to ship (real-time rates). Sellers in the U.S or Canada can use Shopify Shipping to provide calculated shipping rates. Using exact shipping cost is the best way to reduce cost if you are a small business, and especially if you are starting out
While deciding on the cost, keep in mind that unexpected costs are the main contributor to incomplete purchases. Customers don’t want to be presented with additional fees at the checkout, and you should make your shipping costs as clear as possible to avoid any surprises.
Overall, you want to balance the shipping and handling costs with pricing. Therefore, you must optimize your shipping rates for Shopify based on weights, packaging, and value.
Shipping and delivery
Your other crucial task will be picking the shipping courier you are going to partner with. Since the courier is going to be a business partner, pick someone who can better represent your brand and business. Here are a few options you have for shipping and deliver.
1) Shipping within Shopify
Shipping within your Shopify Admin is called Shopify Shipping. With Shopify Shipping, you get discounted shipping rates on several carriers, have the ability to print your own shipping labels, and access to other shipping tools like return labels. and can print shipping labels direct from the Shopify admin.
To print shipping labels, you need to select “Buy shipping label” from the fulfillment screen. You will then pick your box size and shipping method and shipping costs will be based on your item weight, box size, and the shipping method.
Anyone residing within the United States can print USPS, UPS, and DHL shipping labels within Shopify, and the enjoy the services of Shopify Shipping. And you don’t need special equipment to print the labels; you are good to go with a regular printer and some clear packing tape. Shopify even has a hardware store for those who want to buy supplies, especially those looking to ship dozens of packages.
When you are ready to ship, stick the label on your package and drop it at the nearest USPS office or schedule a pickup. You will skip the line because your package will be ready to ship. You can choose your shipping method by either scheduling a free home or office pickup if you have at least one priority package.
With Shopify Shipping, you get the chance to buy and print multiple shipping labels at once when your order is ready for fulfillment.
2) Shipping outside Shopify
Carriers are aplenty, and you need to know which one suits your interests. Carriers have shipping rates based on several variables, ranging from destination country, insurance, tracking, weight, and size.
You will have to conduct extensive research when looking for a carrier. For example, you may probably want to consider a carrier with package insurance and package tracking if you are selling high-value items.
3) Fulfillment with Deliverr
Deliverr is an outsourced fulfillment solution that integrates directly with Shopify. With a focus on fast fulfillment that will delight your customers, transparent pricing, and a 2-minute onboarding process, Deliverr is the key to streamlining an efficient fulfillment process for your Shopify store.
To calculate what your costs would be, visit our fulfillment cost calculator.
When it comes to delighting your buyers and generating loyal customers, fulfillment is vital. Seamless fulfillment is a must, and fast fulfillment will help your own store compete with eCommerce giants such as Amazon and eBay. We hope this guide will help you navigate your shipping and delivery process, and help you choose the best option for your business.