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10 tips for mastering Shopify order fulfillment

Perfecting your eCommerce order fulfillment is a make-or-break-it move when you’re selling via Shopify. With more than 800,000 businesses worldwide, Shopify is the top eCommerce platform for attracting online sellers. Mastering Shopify order fulfillment means attracting customers with fast shipping options and maintaining relationships with reliable and affordable delivery.

Solid order fulfillment matters across sales channels, keeping you competitive, high ranking, and eligible for fast shipping programs. But Shopify and Shopify Plus require a little extra fulfillment effort, because Shopify doesn’t come with built-in customer loyalty that can overlook occassional mishaps.

Sellers are left largely on your own when it comes to Shopify order fulfillment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t master it.

This week, we’re sharing our top 10 tips for mastering Shopify order fulfillment and making Shopify your most successful sales channel yet.

Tips for masting Shopify order fulfillment

We could write all day about Shopify order fulfillment tips, but instead, we’ve narrowed down the Deliverr team’s top 10 tactics for fulfilling Shopify orders in a way that’s efficient for you, enjoyable for your customers, and pleasing for your bank balance.

1. Decide your Shopify shipping strategy

To become a master at anything you need to have a clear direction. This requires picking an order fulfillment strategy that covers:

Cost

Will you be offering customers free shipping, flat rate shipping, or calculating the exact shipping costs? To decide, you need to balance customer preference for free shipping vs the cost of shipping for your business.

Speed

Will you be offering customers fast shipping, economy shipping, or the option to choose a speed depending on price? To decide, you need to balance customer preference for fast shipping vs your ability to ship items in two days.

Once you’ve decided, head to the Shipping page in your Shopify admin to set up shipping speed.

2. Decide your fulfillment method

Your chosen Shopify shipping strategy will largely dictate your Shopify fulfillment strategy. There are three main fulfillment options when selling via Shopify.

In-house

In-house fulfillment involves storing, picking, packing, and shipping items yourself. This gives you the greatest control over your fulfillment methods but comes with significant time investment – making it suitable economy deliveries calculated at the exact shipping rate.

Outsourced

Outsourced fulfillment involves shipping your products to an outsourced fulfillment provider who stores, picks, and ships items directly to your customers. This gives you access to expert fulfillment knowledge, preferential shipping rates, and faster turnarounds – making it suitable when offering fast shipping for free or at a flat rate.

Tip: Get 2-day delivery badges on your Shopify store with Deliverr. We guarantee nationwide 2-day delivery so you can focus on your business, and leave the boxes to us.

Combination

Combination fulfillment involves using both in-house and outsourced fulfillment. This is common when selling a mix of products or using a channel-specific fulfillment provider such as FBA or SFP.

Which fulfillment method should you pick? You’ve heard the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none.” If your expertise lies in selling rather than shipping, we recommend benefiting from the knowledge of an outsourced fulfillment provider. If you’re already running a successful internal shipping operation and you are confident in your ability to remain doing so while expanding to Shopify, then in-house fulfillment might be better for your needs.

3. Calculate your costs

If you’re struggling to pick a shipping strategy or fulfillment method, a great tip is using a fulfillment calculator to see which method you can afford. For example, you might really want to offer free shipping as an incentive for customers buying direct, but your current profit margins won’t allow it.

By using a fulfillment calculator, you can identify whether an all-inclusive fulfillment provider would reduce your overall shipping costs, allowing you to offset the cost of free shipping.

4. Create a warehouse flow

If you’re opting for in-house fulfillment, we can’t stress the importance of creating a warehouse flow enough. Getting orders from your computer screen, through the warehouse, and into your shipping carrier’s hands requires a logical process.

Specifically, you want:

  • A warehouse layout that mimics the process to avoid staff walking backwards and forwards (i.e. computer > products > packing station > warehouse door);
  • Fast-moving items to be located in accessible and prominent locations;
  • Slow-moving items to be located out of the way; and
  • An SKU system that helps employees to quickly and easily locate products.

If you don’t have the funds or inclination to do this, then it may be more cost-effective to use a 3PL or outsourced fulfillment partner.

5. Find the right partners

Speaking of partners, you need to find the right companies who will help you to achieve your shipping strategy.

In-house fulfillment

In-house fulfillers will need to find a shipping carrier who:

  • Offers the required delivery speeds;
  • Has a clear pricing structure that fits your budget; and
  • Takes responsibility for any lost, damaged, or late deliveries.

Outsourced fulfillment

Those opting for outsourced fulfillment need to find the right fulfillment partner. Ideally, you’re looking for:

Bonus tip: download these 16 important questions to ask a logistics provider.

6. Use the right tools

A carpenter is only as good as his tools and the same goes for online sellers. To supercharge your order fulfillment in Shopify, you need the tools that will enable you to do so. The best tools for the job?

  • Inventory management software – this ensures that your stock levels remain up-to-date so that your warehouse staff aren’t wasting time searching for out of stock items;
  • Reporting software to prepare for high-volume periods and reduce slow moving stock; and
  • A great warehouse team.

7. Prepare for peaks

Masting Shopify fulfillment is one thing – mastering Shopify fulfillment over Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend is another. When sales volumes increase, the first cracks to show are in the order fulfillment process. Ensure that you or your in-house provider has a plan for handling peak periods, such as readily available temporary staff, excess packaging materials, and fast shipping guarantees.

8. Prepare for troughs

After the peak, it’s useful to have a plan for the trough. Use quieter periods to further optimize your shipping process, tidy up the warehouse, and analyze your shipping metrics. If you’re outsourcing your fulfillment, use this spare time for growing your business through marketing, product research, or search engine optimization.

9. Use unbranded packaging

Yes, we said it. While branded packaging is a really popular way to extend the customer experience and stand out from the ordinary post, it can also really hurt your profits. You can find out more about the effects of branded packaging on fulfillment here, but in short it’s expensive, attractive to thieves, and can slow down your shipping speeds.

10. Seek feedback

And, our final tip of the day: seek feedback. Becoming a fulfillment expert requires continuous improvement – especially when Amazon is constantly raising the bar. Actively seek customer feedback, investigate outsourced options, and look for ways to increase your speed and reduce your costs.

Anyone can master Shopify fulfillment with the right knowledge, tools, and help – you just need to know where to get started. Happy selling!

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