Running an eCommerce store can be extremely daunting and sometimes overwhelming. The amount of steps that it takes to get from sourcing products to dropping them on customers doorsteps is extensive and complex. Fortunately for current and prospective Shopify users, Shopify Fulfillment has come along to help deal with some of the trickiest of tasks.
It is a service that Shopify users can take advantage of to simplify the storage, delivery and tracking of inventory by using a network of fulfillment centers around the United States. Though not run by Shopify directly, they have partnered with third party fulfillment centers and a robot they are very proud of called Chuck, to help their users deal with the logistics side of things.
This means that you can have your stock delivered to one of their centers, and utilizing deep integration with your Shopify backend, they will store it for you and deliver it straight to your customers on your behalf.
If you are warehousing and manually shipping your stock yourself, maybe via you garage and daily drives to the post office, it is entirely possible that this is consuming the vast majority of your time. This is time that could be better spent on optimising other aspects of your business like marketing, sourcing and testing new products or better suppliers and focusing on your audience.
By using a Shopify fulfilment center and synchronising your shopify account with any other platforms you sell on like Amazon or eBay, the fulfilment center can keep track of your stock situation for you across multiple sales channels. This massively simplifies things for those selling across the board and wanting to keep a reliable track of stock. You will even get notified when stock is running low.
This is more for people who are already renting storage space for their stock and possibly paying a salary to someone to pick, pack and dispatch orders for you. If this is your situation then there is a good chance that it would be considerably cheaper just to pay for shelf space in a warehouse and per product shipped.
Fulfilment providers work directly with logistics companies like FedEx, UPS and more. And because they use these companies so much due to the large amount of clients they are servicing, they can take advantage of economies of scale and get bulk discounts, which is passed on to you.
If you are on a basic plan then you have to be prepared to up that to their premium service, which isn’t a small step up. Obviously this is less of a problem for those already using that service and to be fair, the premium package does provide some kick ass features which nearly any eCommerce store could benefit from.
Remember, this is a network of third party centers, not Shopify's own. This means that you will have to negotiate with them regarding storage and shipping costs. This is based on factors like how much shelf space you will need and how many orders you expect to turn out per month. Not everyone is going to be completely comfortable with these details and as such, could easily mess this stage up.
Though Shopify have clearly vetted their service providers and established deep integrations between their services, it is ultimately a third party still which means you will have one more company to deal with, and potentially have problems with. Compared to a service like Fulfillment by Amazon where they own the whole supply chain, this isn’t ideal. To be fair though, if you are going to go down the fulfilment company route, using one that integrates so well with your store and has been vetted by Shopify is probably the first place to look.
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