When Shopify launched its fulfillment options for vendors, it was something of a godsend. Sellers wanted to sell their goods over the internet, but they didn’t want to have to go through the hassle of doing their own fulfillment - something that is notoriously difficult to get right, especially if you’re dealing with volume.
Shopify came up with the idea that it would be nice if people had access to these specialized services, as well as templates for their own e-commerce websites, allowing anyone to set up shop, start selling, and reach more customers more cheaply than they could if they were trying to do it all on their own. Though a Shopify fulfillment service itself doesn't directly exist, Shopify has created integrations that work for many fulfillment providers.
As with any marketplace, some pros and cons should factor into your decision to use its services. So, should you use the Shopify fulfillment network?
The Pros Of Shopify Integration
Sync Inventory Information
Shopify provided amateur retailers with a quick and secure platform to sell their wares online, but in the early days, it did little to help them actually fulfill those orders or manage their inventories. Many sellers operated across multiple platforms, not just Shopify, and so had to calculate their inventory needs manually.
Shopify integration changed all that by linking third-party accounts. For instance, a seller with an eBay account can now connect that to their Shopify hub and integrate all of their sales data. By doing this, they can now keep track of their stock in real time, no matter which platform makes the sale.
All Information Is Managed On The Same Platform
In the past, online vendors had to contend with the problem of managing data and processing orders on multiple accounts. It was a time-consuming and error-prone process. But with Shopify integration, that problem has mostly disappeared. Orders placed on third-party marketplaces, like Amazon and eBay, get automatically forwarded to a vendor’s Shopify account for review, eliminating the need to monitor other accounts.
Shopify integration allows sellers to collect payment, receive messages, and process orders for dispatch, without ever having to directly interact with their other accounts, cutting down on wasted time.
Reduce Shipping Costs
Shopify integration goes beyond mere information-sharing across platforms: it also extends into the realm of fulfillment. Many vendors don’t have the resources of the skills to execute perfect fulfillment processes, and so they need the help of a third-party provider. Shopify itself doesn’t offer an in-house fulfillment solution, but it does provide a framework that allows vendors to use one operated by somebody else.
One of the benefits of using Shopify-integrated fulfillment services is that they lower shipping costs. Fulfillment providers often work closely with trusted third-party delivery specialists, like UPS and FedEx, and gain discounts through bulk orders. Shopify sellers can benefit from these lower shipping rates when using their services.
Reduce Operating Costs
Fulfillment is a growing industry in the US, worth more than $22 billion according to IBIS World’s market research, and employing over 600,000 people. The reason for its success has to do with the impressive cost-savings that it offers online vendors. All sellers have to pay for is warehouse space and the cost of packing and processing goods, and that’s it. They don’t have to go to the hassle of building their own fulfillment center or developing their own packaging systems - something which can cost a lot of money. Orders simply come into their Shopify account and then get passed onto the warehouse operator, whoever that happens to be.
Buy Shipping Labels To Speed Up Packaging And Fulfillment
Shopify allows vendors on its platform to buy shipping labels for their products. These labels help to reduce the time it takes to package products, save on post office costs, and gain access to reduced shipping rates from delivery specialists like USPS, DHL, and Canada post. All vendors have to do is print out the labels and then send them from any post office.
Cons Of Shopify Fulfillment
You Have To Pay Much More For Advanced Features
Shopify integration was an excellent extension of the platform, but Shopify fulfillment pricing can be daunting. For instance, the basic Shopify account gives you the ability to manage integrated accounts from a single app, but if you want more than one person managing incoming orders, you'll have to pay for it. Shopify’s basic $29 a month service doesn’t allow you to do this.
The premium Shopify fulfillment service cost is a bit more intimidating. Currently, Shopify’s premium service allows access for up to 15 people at any one time and costs $299 per month. Yes, the service gives you all sorts of nice extras, like real-time carrier shipping and the ability to build advanced reports, but it all comes at quite a substantial cost.
Shopify Doesn’t Have Control Over Third-Party Fulfillment Providers
Although the Shopify service itself is user-friendly and well-integrated, the company doesn’t have any control over third-party providers. Shopify integrates with many fulfillment providers, but it is left up to the vendor themselves to monitor the quality of these services. Monitoring quality can be difficult, and you may only discover that problems when customers complain.
Setting Up Third-Party Fulfillment Can Be Complicated
Shopify warehouse fulfillment simplifies business, but few vendors on Shopify have a deep and profound knowledge of fulfillment processes, and so they don’t often know how much warehouse space they need, how many orders per month they will ship, or even how much they should be paying. All of this must be negotiated outside of the Shopify app. For many new sellers, this will be a challenge, especially for those who don’t know exactly how much their business is expected to grow.
So, in conclusion, the new Shopify fulfillment service provides several helpful options for vendors who want to make trading online a smoother experience, but the platform still has a way to go before things like third-party fulfillment become automatic.