Starting a business online is a BIG deal.
Sure, different ecommerce platforms have made it easier for business-minded people to start and run their businesses online, it is still not something everyone can do with sheer perfection.
Your responsibility as an online seller isn't limited to getting more orders only. It is just a tiny part of your entire ecommerce journey. There are many other things you need to take charge of, including fulfillment, packaging, delivery, returns and refunds, and more.
This can be an intimidating process requiring proper management and control over the delivery and transportation of your products to the final consumers.
But it's not all bad news.
Thanks to Shopify fulfillment services, things like storage, delivery, and fulfillment are no longer a hurdle for Shopify store owners.
This post will highlight Shopify fulfillment, how it works, and the custom fulfillment services Shopify sellers can use today to improve customer experience and conversions.
Fulfillment Service Explained
Simply put, a fulfillment service means a third-party warehouse service, which is responsible for preparing, packaging, and delivering your orders for you. This option is ideal for those businesses that do not want to pack and ship orders to the final consumers.
Also, those who don't have a warehouse facility to ship orders on their own can benefit from the custom fulfillment services.
Today, you can find many custom fulfillment services online, including the Shopify Fulfillment Network.
What Is Shopify Fulfillment Network?
The Shopify Fulfillment Network, also known as SFN, is a service that ships orders to your customers.
The inventory warehouses in the US and Canada make fast and affordable shipping possible for consumers living nearby these locations.
If your business sells in the US and delivers between 3 and 200 orders daily, you can benefit from Shopify fulfillment.
How Do Fulfillment Services Work?
Keep the cost of hiring additional staff to handle inventory and customer support in mind when you choose to manage order fulfillment on your own.
Why not outsource fulfillment by hiring the best Shopify fulfillment service provider?
The process is quite simple. All you need to do is ensure your chosen service provider has ample inventory. Generally, custom fulfillment services send the order to the logistics company, which packs and ships the products to the final consumer without needing you to handle any step in between.
Pros & Cons Of Shopify Fulfillment
Running a business online may sound like a great idea to most of you. And why not? It enables you to sell stuff from the comfort of your home.
But many people change their minds at the last minute when they get to know they have to handle their own fulfillment.
That is where Shopify fulfillment steps in.
The prominent ecommerce platform came up with the idea that it would be better if sellers can get access to fulfillment services so that anyone can set up their store and start selling without worrying about fulfillment and delivery.
But similar to anything else in the world, hiring custom fulfillment services also comes with its own benefits and challenges. We're going to discuss a few of them down below.
Shopify Custom Fulfillment Services - Benefits
Real-Time Stock Tracking
What sets Shopify apart from the rest of the competitors? It provides beginners with a platform to set up their stores and start selling their goods with little to no formalities.
It's true that Shopify didn't pay heed to help sellers with their fulfillment in the past. But Shopify integration has changed the way Shopify sellers work and manage their inventories today.
What Shopify integration does is link third-party accounts, making it easier for the sellers to track the status of their stock regardless of the platform they use.
Shopify Integration Saves Time
Another perk of using Shopify integration is it enables you to control all of your sales data and information on a single platform.
When you get orders on any third-party websites, such as Amazon, they will be forwarded to your Shopify account, allowing you to collect payments and receive messages there without even having to sign in to those specific accounts.
Lower Shipping And Operating Costs
Custom fulfillment services usually collaborate with renowned logistics companies that also offer them massive discounts on bulk orders.
This enables you to offer your products and services at lower shipping costs.
Shipping Labels For Fast Packaging And Fulfillment
You can also buy shipping labels on Shopify to help reduce the overall time it takes to package products.
Moreover, it also helps you save a lot on post office costs and shipping charges.
Custom Fulfillment - Challenges
There is no denying that Shopify is a user-friendly platform. But this is also the fact that it doesn't have any control over third-party service providers.
While Shopify seamlessly integrates with multiple custom fulfillment service providers, sellers have to monitor the quality of these services on their own.
It Can Be Pricey
The biggest challenge for Shopify stores using Shopify integration is coping up with the pricing plans.
Let's take a simple example. Shopify allows you to control integrated accounts with a single app when using their basic plan. But you have to pay extra money if you want more than one person to control incoming orders.
When You Should Consider Moving To Outsourced Fulfillment?
Now, you must be wondering when you should consider switching to outsourced fulfillment, considering the challenges we have discussed in the previous section. Continue reading if you want to find the answer to this question.
In all honesty, customer fulfillment services work for most businesses, whether big or small. There are many Shopify fulfillment service providers to choose from. And some of them also offer custom plans for startups and mid-scale businesses.
Here are a few indications to help you identify the best time to outsource your fulfillment operations:
- Businesses experiencing cyclical and uneven sales should consider handing over their fulfillment to the best Shopify fulfillment service. Why? Because if the number of orders you get every year fluctuates, it doesn't make sense to invest in a dedicated warehouse
- If you already have a packed schedule, it is better to outsource your fulfillment to a reputable custom logistics service that can pack and ship orders on your behalf
Who Should Not Use Custom Fulfillment Services?
There is no 'one-size-fits-all' rule applicable when we talk about online business. There are situations when having a custom fulfillment service provider onboard doesn't make sense.
- If you're a startup with limited cash flow, it is wise to handle fulfillment on your own instead of throwing your money on third-party service providers
- While present-day logistic companies are constantly coming up with ways to offer customized solutions, it is better to handle your own fulfillment if you're looking for something really specific
Six Steps To Activate Custom Fulfillment Service On Shopify
Once you have decided to opt for a custom fulfillment service for your business, it is time to activate a custom fulfillment service on Shopify.
As a general rule, every online business can follow these six steps to get set up.
Step 1 - Select ‘Shipping’
Log into your Shopify account. Click 'Settings' listed in the bottom left corner of your screen. And then click 'Shipping.'
Step 2 - Click ‘Add Dropshipping Service’
Scroll down, and you'll see the 'Dropshipping and fulfillment services' option at the bottom of the page. Click 'Add dropshipping services' to get started.
If you have already added a service in the past, you can click on 'Manage Services.'
Step 3 - Click ‘Add Custom Fulfillment’
Now, click on the 'Add custom fulfillment service' available on the left side of your screen.
Step 4 - Fill In Service Details
It's time to fill in all the relevant details, including the title of your Shopify fulfillment provider and their email address.
Step 5 - Click ‘Add Fulfillment Service’
It's time to 'Add fulfillment Service.' Click 'Save' to complete the process.
Step 6 - Delete A Custom Fulfillment Service
If you don't want to work with any specific custom fulfillment service provider, you can delete that using the 'Edit' option available next to the fulfillment service. You can also reactivate the deleted service any time by clicking the 'Manage integrations' option.
Best Shopify Fulfillment Services
At this point, you must have a clear understanding of how custom fulfillment methods work in Shopify. But who are the best Shopify fulfillment service providers you can work with to optimize your fulfillment and deliveries?
Here are our top 3 picks:
The WhiteBox fulfillment service is a famous fulfillment service that is designed for modern commerce. It is an ideal solution for businesses that want to scale their operations and stand out in the crowd.
The good thing about this service is that it offers solutions to beginners and established businesses to help them overcome their shipping and fulfillment challenges.
Some of the prominent features of this service include:
- Handling stocks and quality check
- Optimized listings
ShipBob is a renowned Shopify fulfillment service that offers quick and affordable shipping options to its customers. Moreover, they also provide Shopify store owners with a chance to expand into new and more profitable markets.
If you have a small-scale Shopify store, FreightPros fulfillment services can be your safest bid. This service is specifically popular for its competitive rates and excellent customer service.
FreightPros offers a range of services and tools to Shopify store owners to help them control their deliveries.
Simply fill in the form available on the company's official website and request a quote.
How To Choose A Fulfillment Service Provider?
While we have listed our 3 top picks for custom Shopify fulfillment service providers, if you want to do your own research, then here are a few things you should consider before having any fulfillment company on board.
Data And Analytics
No online business can succeed without leveraging data and analytics. Data is powerful. Fortunately, your chosen fulfillment service provider can help you monitor where your business stands at the moment.
While sending out a quote, make sure you confirm the availability of real-time analytics tracking so that you can make better decisions about inventory allocation and management.
If you're already running a tech-driven Shopify store, make sure you choose a fulfillment service that smoothly fits into your online business framework.
There are fulfillment services that use advanced tools and tech features. You must talk about your needs before you hire someone for your business.
Find A Company That Is A Good Fit!
While price is the critical factor, make sure you look beyond it and find a custom fulfillment service provider that is a good fit.
Look, you can't change your fulfillment service provider every now and then. So, carefully check out the claims the company makes and examine the opinion of other like-minded sellers and store owners to ensure the company is legitimate and worth your money.
Choose A Service That Works With Stores Similar To Yours
This step is critical. It is important to work with a company that has already worked with stores similar to yours. Doing so will help you gain insightful knowledge and guidance as you move forward.
Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions. It's a great idea to schedule a one-on-one meeting with the representative so that you can have a clear understanding of how they work and whether or not you two can make a good fit.