You’ve decided to start an online business. You know you need a website, and Shopify provides an easy to use solution to get a professional ecommerce site up and running without being an expert web designer.
But how do you get the products from your warehouse to your customers? What kind of shipping should you use? How much customer service should be provided? These are all valid questions that have answers which will differ depending on your industry and what your customers expect from their experience.
In this article we will review your Shopify order fulfillment options and how to evaluate them, so you can choose the best option for your business.
What is Order Fulfillment and Why Should You Care
Order fulfillment is the process of getting your products from the warehouse to your customers. You have several options on how you want to accomplish this task, be it with an external order fulfillment service or doing all of the work yourself just like Amazon does.
It’s important to think about order fulfillment early on in your business plan because of the amount of time it will take, possible costs involved, and how much customer service is required.
A smooth order fulfillment process can help to build customer trust and loyalty, keeping them coming back for more. On the other hand, delayed or lost orders, improper shipping, poor packaging, and expensive shipping costs can cost your Shopify store lost business today and in the future.
Can Shopify Handle Order Fulfillment?
Shopify is a nearly complete solution to get you started with your online business, but it does not handle order fulfillment. It’s up to each store owner to find a solution that is best for them.
What Options Do I Have for Shopify Order Fulfillment?
There are several different ways to handle order fulfillment with your Shopify store:
1. Do it yourself
Setting up your own order fulfillment process is the most cost effective option, but can be time consuming and require a lot of customer service.
2. Use an External Order Fulfillment Company to Do the Work For You
This will free up your time and relieve any stress associated with managing shipments and returns. Many business owners assume a service like this will cost a lot more, but that is not always the case. It really depends on your shipping volume and how much you are currently spending on storage space, employees, and the time to manage it all.
If you find that managing your order fulfillment process is becoming like an extra full-time job in itself, it might be time to consider outsourcing order fulfillment for your Shopify store.
3. Use Amazon FBA
Amazon can handle your order fulfillment for you. If you are already an Amazon seller or plan to be, this may be your best option due to the integration with your Amazon Seller Central account.
Evaluating External Order Fulfillment Companies to Find the Best One For Your Business
When you are signed up for Shopify, the possibility of using an external order fulfillment company is great. You can hook your store up to a service and not have to worry about hiring someone or managing shipments.
However, choosing which service to use can be difficult and there are so many companies out there that it’s hard to know how to choose the best one.
As mentioned above, do not assume that using an order fulfillment partner is automatically creating a new large expense. It can save you time, costs on storage space, and employee expenses.
Look for an order fulfillment partner that can offer a range of shipping options for your customers at an affordable rate.
ShipBuddies has used their customer base to negotiate low shipping rates with all of the major carriers, including USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL. We pass this savings on to our customers so they can offer affordable or even free shipping on their orders.
Make a List
Before you start shopping around for someone that can handle your Shopify order fulfillment, make a list of what you need.
Do you need to warehouse perishable items and audit inventory?
Are you a subscription box service, and if so are they equipped to handle your needs?
Do you use custom packaging and/or inserts and will they allow you to do so? Are there additional costs for this?
Maybe most importantly for you as a Shopify store owner, does their software integrate with Shopify? Part of the reason for working with an order fulfillment partner is to make the order fulfillment process simpler.
If you have to print off orders or email them off to be fulfilled, it is an extra unnecessary step.
Most fulfillment services will integrate directly with Shopify. As customers place orders on your store, the data is sent directly to their warehouse for fulfillment. This saves time, reduces errors, and gets orders fulfilled faster.
Do They Hand Returns?
One important thing to keep in mind when looking for an order fulfillment service is if they handle returns. This is especially important if you are in apparel or another e-commerce industry where customers frequently return items. This needs to be addressed when choosing a service.
You will need to know if they provide return shipping labels and how much it costs. You may also require that they provide a pre-paid return label for your customers.
Perform a Test Run
Ask the order fulfillment service if you can do a trial run of their services to see how it goes. This way you can test them out before making the full commitment of shipping all your inventory to them.
Sometimes it can actually be a good thing if there is a hiccup or two during the trial run. It will give you a chance to see how they handle and react to mistakes or issues when they arise.
We Are Here to Help
Searching for the right Shopify order fulfillment partner is hard but ShipBuddies wants to help you find one that works well for your business processes.
Contact us today to learn more about how our team can help your business grow.