How to Fulfill Orders on Shopify

A cartoon woman delivering a package on a scooter

Packaging up and shipping out orders is perhaps the most mundane part of running an ecommerce business. Fulfillment can also be challenging as you start to grow your business. Fortunately, if you’re wondering how to fulfill orders on Shopify, help is available. 

The Shopify Fulfillment Network is a fulfillment service from Shopify for stores running on their platform. Store operators can use this optional paid service in place of their internal fulfillment processes or other third-party fulfillment services. If you’re looking for better options on how to fulfill orders on Shopify, this post will help you decide if the Shopify Fulfillment Network is right for your business. In this post, we’ll review:

  • What the fulfillment network is
  • Benefits of the fulfillment network
  • Shopify’s requirements
  • How to set up the fulfillment network 

What is Shopify Fulfillment?

The Shopify Fulfillment Network offers help with sourcing, storage, packing, and shipping of items sold through Shopify stores. 

When you use SFN, you’re outsourcing the post-sale activities for filling an order. Instead of keeping inventory at one of your locations and packaging up each order, you ship merchandise to the fulfillment service’s warehouse. When a customer purchases from your Shopify store, the information is sent to the fulfillment center, where someone will pick, pack, and ship the order. 

SFN is not a free service. Shopify bills it on top of your regular platform expenses. Exact pricing varies, depending on volume and product types.

You can expect to pay fees for:

  • Pick and pack
  • Packing supplies
  • Transportation
  • Storage
  • Special projects beyond standard pick and pack services

To get an exact price for your store, contact Shopify and request a quote. 

Benefits of Using SFN

If you’re exploring outsourcing your fulfillment for the first time, the Shopify Fulfillment Network is a great option. 

Benefits of using SFN include:

  • Easy Integration. Since your store already runs on Shopify, using their fulfillment network keeps all your business inside the same platform. 
  • Branding Stays Intact. Just because you’re using the Shopify network doesn’t mean all of your packages will arrive in Shopify boxes. You can still control the branding, so each order ships the way you want it to look. 
  • Managed Inventory Distribution. Shopify analyzes your sales history and recommends where to store your inventory. Shopify has warehouses across the country. Instead of your inventory sitting in one place, they distribute it across their network. Then orders ship from the location closest to the buyer. 
  • More Time and Lower Staff Costs. If you dedicated your time or employee time to fulfillment, using SFN gives that time back. You can focus on growing your business, not packing up boxes. 
A cartoon man taking a rest sitting on a heavy package with a trolley nearby

Disadvantages of Using SFN

The Shopify Fulfillment Network can solve many logistical issues, but it’s not without drawbacks. There are factors to consider when deciding if SFN is suitable for your store.

Disadvantages of using SFN include:

  • Added Costs. The Shopify fulfillment service isn’t free. Make sure your margins can cover the added expense. 
  • Getting Items to Shopify. You’ll need to budget the money and time for packaging and shipping items to the Shopify warehouses. 
  • Idle Inventory. If you sell outside of Shopify, like at a brick-and-mortar store or during special events, you can’t pull from inventory you have sitting at Shopify’s warehouses. These types of events could cause you to increase the amount of stock you have on hand. 

Shopify Fulfillment Requirements

Not all businesses or products are eligible for the Shopify Fulfillment Network. 

Shopify claims the program is best for business:

  • Selling in the United States and Canada
  • With a small product catalog (typically less than 2000 SKUs)
  • Shipping three to 200 orders per day

Regulated or perishable products such as fruit or alcohol are not eligible. 

How to Fulfill Orders on Shopify with the Shopify Fulfillment Network

Now that you know the ins and outs of SFN, you can make an informed decision about whether it’s right for your business. 

Follow these eight steps if you’re interested in using SFN:

  1. Ensure you meet the requirements. You can view a complete list of eligibility requirements on the Shopify support site.
  2. Apply for the program.  
  3. Configure your products. Each product and variant will need a unique SKU and barcode. It also needs a tariff code if you’re shipping internationally. 
  4. Configure the SFN app to work with your store. 
  5. Create an inbound transfer. This transfer is how you let Shopify know what items you’re sending to their warehouses. 
  6. Pack and label your products. 
  7. Send the products to a Shopify Fulfillment Center location.
  8. Set up shipping rates for items fulfilled through SFN in the shipping section of your Shopify admin. You’ll want to set up shipping profiles and locations. 

Ready to Grow Your Shopify Business?

Exploring how to fulfill orders through SFN is typically a sign that an ecommerce business is growing. While managing your orders in-house was possible when you first started out, it’s since become a challenge. The Shopify Fulfillment Network is an excellent solution for solving logistical problems. But what about technical challenges? Is your Shopify site ready to scale?

From slow Shopify sites to misconfigured apps that could cause your site to crash, the Mindsize team offers Shopify development services to ensure your site loads fast and can scale to meet increased sales volume. We work with some of the largest ecommerce stores in the world to ensure their sites run smoothly. If you’re interested in learning how to optimize your Shopify store, contact us today to schedule a consultation.