How to Fulfil and Automate Shopify Orders: 2024 Guide

For many Shopify store owners, order fulfilment is the backbone of the business, directly impacting customer satisfaction and operational efficiency. This guide provides an in-depth look at streamlining your Shopify order fulfilment process, from basic steps to advanced automation techniques. We’ll cover everything necessary to transform your fulfilment process into a smooth, customer-friendly operation.

The Importance of Fulfilment for Shopify Store Owners

Effective order fulfilment is crucial for any e-commerce business, but it holds particular significance for Shopify store owners. Here’s why mastering fulfilment is vital:

Customer Satisfaction

The fulfilment process is your customer’s most direct touchpoint. Quick, accurate, and reliable fulfilment can significantly enhance customer satisfaction, leading to repeat purchases and positive reviews, which are vital for business growth.

Brand Reputation

Fulfilment experiences directly impact your brand’s reputation. Efficient fulfilment operations can help build a reputation for reliability and excellent customer service, making your store the go-to option for return customers.

Operational Efficiency

Streamlined fulfilment processes reduce the time and resources spent on each order, allowing you to scale up operations without a proportional increase in overheads. This efficiency can be a significant competitive advantage in the fast-paced world of e-commerce.

Cost Reduction

Effective management of inventory and fulfilment operations can significantly reduce costs associated with wasted storage space, excess inventory, and inefficient shipping practices, directly benefiting your bottom line.

Understanding Shopify Order Fulfilment

Order fulfilment on Shopify involves several key steps from the moment a customer places an order to the final delivery. Efficient management of these steps ensures a seamless process for both the store owner and the customer.

1. Receiving and Managing Inventory

Before you can fulfil any orders, you need to have a clear system for receiving and managing inventory. This includes:

  • Regularly updating your inventory levels on Shopify to reflect what products you have in stock.
  • Organising your storage space for easy access and tracking.
  • Setting up alerts for low stock levels to avoid overselling products.

2. Processing Orders

As soon as an order is placed, the process of picking, packing, and shipping begins. This is streamlined through the Shopify admin, where you can view all order details, including customer information and product specifics.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fulfilling an Order on Shopify:

  1. Access your orders: Log into your Shopify admin and go to the ‘Orders’ section.
  2. Review the order: Confirm the items, quantities, and the shipping address.
  3. Pick and pack the products: Locate the items in your warehouse or storage facility, check them for quality, and package them securely.
  4. Label and ship the order: Generate a shipping label through Shopify or a third-party app, attach it to the package, and arrange for collection by your chosen courier.

3. Shipping and Tracking

Choosing the right shipping partners and options is crucial for timely and reliable delivery. Shopify integrates with various couriers and provides tracking information that you can pass along to your customers, ensuring they are updated on their order status.

Shopify Fulfilment Network

The Shopify Fulfilment Network (SFN) is a powerful tool for e-commerce businesses looking to scale and enhance their fulfilment capabilities. Here’s a detailed look at how SFN works and the benefits it can offer your business:

Overview of Shopify Fulfilment Network

The SFN is an end-to-end fulfilment solution provided by Shopify that leverages advanced logistics, machine learning technology, and a network of distributed fulfilment centres. By storing your inventory across multiple locations closer to your customers, SFN reduces shipping times and costs while maintaining the accuracy and reliability of your deliveries.

Benefits of Using SFN

  1. Faster Delivery Times: By strategically locating inventory closer to customers, SFN can significantly reduce delivery times, enhancing customer satisfaction and retention.
  2. Reduced Shipping Costs: Distributed inventory means reduced distance for shipments, which can lower shipping costs.
  3. Scalability: SFN is designed to grow with your business, easily accommodating seasonal fluctuations and increasing order volumes without the need for additional resources or infrastructure.
  4. Hassle-Free Management: SFN integrates directly with your Shopify store, providing real-time inventory updates, order tracking, and predictive analytics to better manage your stock levels and fulfilment processes.

How to Get Started with SFN

To begin using the Shopify Fulfilment Network, you must apply to see if your business qualifies. Factors such as order volume, fulfilment needs, and product types are considered during the evaluation. Once accepted, you’ll work with Shopify experts to set up your fulfilment strategy, integrate your inventory with SFN

4 Fulfilment Options Available to Shopify Store Owners

Selecting the right fulfilment method is crucial to ensuring that your operation scales efficiently while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction. Here’s a deeper look into each primary fulfilment method available to Shopify store owners:

Initial overview:

Fulfilment Type Description Ideal for
In-House Fulfilment You manage all aspects of fulfilment, including storage, picking, packing, and shipping, internally. Businesses that want full control over their operations and have the capacity to handle logistics.
Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Outsourcing your fulfilment needs to a third party that handles storage, packing, and shipping. Growing businesses needing scalable solutions without the burden of physical logistics management.
Dropshipping You sell products that are shipped directly to your customers by the supplier or manufacturer. New entrepreneurs and those with limited capital or storage space; ideal for testing new markets.
Hybrid Fulfilment Combining different fulfilment methods, such as in-house and 3PL, to optimize efficiency and costs. Businesses with diverse product ranges or varying sales volumes; those looking for flexibility.


1. In-House Fulfilment

In-house fulfilment involves handling all aspects of the fulfilment process within your own business, from storing stock to packing and shipping orders.


  • Control: You maintain complete control over every step of the fulfilment process. This control allows for greater flexibility in how orders are handled, packaged, and shipped.
  • Customisation: It’s easier to offer personalised packaging, handwritten thank-you notes, samples, or specific bundle offers, enhancing the customer experience.
  • Cost-Saving Potential: Over time, as you refine your processes and scale your operation, you might reduce costs by avoiding third-party fees.


  • Resource Intensive: Requires significant investments in storage space, inventory management, and staffing, which can be costly and time-consuming.
  • Scalability Issues: As order volumes increase, you may need to invest in additional resources or space to keep up, which can be a major challenge for small businesses.
  • Operational Overheads: Running a warehouse and handling logistics can add considerable operational overheads, including utilities, insurance, and technology investments.

2. Third-Party Logistics (3PL)

Third-Party Logistics providers are companies that specialise in handling the logistics of storage, packing, and shipping on behalf of other businesses.


  • Scalability: 3PLs can handle fluctuations in order volumes with ease, allowing you to scale your business without direct investment in physical resources.
  • Expertise: 3PLs bring extensive logistics expertise, which can improve efficiency and potentially reduce costs through optimised shipping routes and bulk carrier rates.
  • Global Reach: Many 3PLs have established international logistics networks, making it easier for you to expand your market reach without dealing with the complexities of international shipping regulations.


  • Less Control: Outsourcing to a 3PL means relinquishing direct control over how products are stored, packed, and shipped, which can lead to generic customer experiences.
  • Dependency: You rely on the 3PL’s ability to manage your inventory and orders effectively. Any issues they face, like delays or stock mismanagement, directly impact your customers.
  • Cost Variability: Costs can vary based on volume, storage needs, and other services, leading to unpredictable monthly expenses.

3. Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a fulfilment model where you sell products that are then shipped directly to your customers by a third-party supplier.


  • Low Startup Costs: You don’t need to invest heavily in inventory, warehousing, or initial logistics setup, making it an accessible model for new entrepreneurs.
  • Wide Product Selection: You can offer a broader range of products without the risk of buying in bulk, as suppliers maintain inventory.
  • Flexibility: Dropshipping allows you to operate from anywhere without needing a physical location for stock, which reduces overheads.


  • Competition: Low entry barriers mean higher competition, often on the same platforms and with the same suppliers.
  • Supplier Reliability: You are dependent on suppliers for stock levels, product quality, and timely fulfilment, over which you have little control.
  • Lower Margins: Operating in a competitive dropshipping market often leads to lower profit margins compared to other fulfilment models.

4. Hybrid Fulfilment

Hybrid fulfilment combines various fulfilment methods to optimise efficiency based on the product type, customer location, and other operational factors.


  • Versatility: Allows you to balance control and convenience by using different fulfilment strategies for different parts of your business or product lines.
  • Cost Efficiency: You can switch between fulfilment methods depending on what is most cost-effective at the time, such as using in-house fulfilment for high-margin items and dropshipping for low-margin ones.
  • Risk Management: Diversifies your fulfilment strategy, reducing dependence on any single method and allowing for more flexibility in managing supply chain disruptions.


  • Complexity: Managing multiple fulfilment methods requires robust systems and processes to ensure smooth operations across different channels.
  • Integration Issues: Integrating different systems (like inventory management, shipping logistics, and order processing) can be challenging and may require additional software or custom solutions.
  • Consistency: Maintaining a consistent customer experience across different fulfilment methods can be difficult, especially when it comes to packaging and delivery times.

Automating Shopify Order Fulfilment

Automating the fulfilment process can significantly enhance efficiency, accuracy, and scalability while reducing the manual labour required to manage orders. For Shopify store owners, there are numerous ways to implement automation across various stages of the fulfilment process. Here’s a deeper dive into how you can automate order fulfilment on your Shopify store.

Inventory Management

Automated inventory updates can ensure that your store always reflects the correct stock levels, preventing overselling and helping to manage reorders efficiently. Automation tools can also predict inventory needs based on sales trends, seasonality, and other factors, allowing for proactive stock management.

Popular Tools:

Shopify’s Inventory Management: Integrates seamlessly with your store, providing automatic stock adjustments as sales occur.

Stocky by Shopify: Offers purchase order automation and demand forecasting, ideal for Shopify POS users.

Order Processing

Automating order processing begins the moment an order is placed. Automation can categorise orders based on set criteria such as location, product type, or priority. This segmentation helps in streamlining the picking and packing process by automatically generating packing slips and invoices.

Popular Tools:

Shopify Flow: Create custom workflows to automate tasks like order tagging, fraud analysis, and VIP customer identification.

Order Printer Pro: Automatically prints custom invoices, labels, and receipts, streamlining the packaging process.

Shipping and Tracking

Once an order is ready for shipment, automating the shipping process can save considerable time and reduce errors. Automated systems can select the best courier based on cost, delivery speed, and reliability, print shipping labels, and send tracking information to customers without manual input.

Popular Tools:

ShipStation: Connects with multiple couriers, provides discounted shipping rates, and automates label printing and tracking updates.

Shippo: Offers similar functionalities, integrating with several couriers, automating the shipping process, and updating customers with real-time tracking information.

Customer Communication

Communication is key in maintaining customer satisfaction. Automating customer updates at each step of the order process ensures they are always informed about their order status, from confirmation to delivery. This transparency builds trust and reduces customer service inquiries.

Popular Tools:

Klaviyo: Integrates with Shopify to automate customer communications, sending updates about order confirmation, shipment, and delivery.

Omnisend: Allows you to set up automated messaging across multiple channels including email, SMS, and social media.

Returns and Exchanges

Handling returns and exchanges can also be automated to ensure a smooth process for both the customer and your business. Automated systems can generate return labels, track the status of returned items, and manage inventory adjustments accordingly.

Popular Tools:

Returnly: Specialises in streamlining the return process for e-commerce sites, offering instant credits for exchanges and managing the returns workflow.

AfterShip Returns Center: Helps manage and automate the returns process with customizable return policies and automated status notifications.

Implementing Automation Tools

  1. Choose the Right Tools: Select apps that integrate seamlessly with Shopify and meet your specific needs in terms of scalability, cost, and features.
  2. Set Clear Rules and Parameters: Define clear criteria for each automation to ensure they work under the right conditions and trigger the appropriate actions.
  3. Test Before Full Implementation: Run tests with your automation setups to ensure they function as expected without disrupting your existing workflow.
  4. Monitor and Optimise: Regularly review the performance of your automation tools to ensure they are delivering the desired outcomes. Make adjustments as needed to address new challenges.

How Impact Express Can Help Streamline Shopify Fulfilment

Impact Express offers tailored fulfilment services that can significantly enhance the efficiency of your Shopify store’s operations. Here’s how partnering with Impact Express can benefit your business:

Seamless Integration

Impact Express integrates seamlessly with Shopify, allowing for automatic syncing of sales and order information. This integration facilitates efficient order processing, from inventory management to shipping and tracking, reducing manual data entry and the potential for errors.

Customised Fulfilment Solutions

Understanding that each e-commerce business has unique needs, Impact Express offers customised fulfilment solutions. Whether you’re dealing with large volumes of orders, require special packaging, or need expedited shipping options, Impact Express can accommodate your specific requirements.

Worldwide Shipping

With a robust global network, Impact Express can handle international shipments efficiently, ensuring your products reach customers worldwide. This service is invaluable for expanding your market reach beyond local borders.

Expert Support

Impact Express provides expert support and advice on logistics and fulfilment strategies. This can be crucial for Shopify store owners looking to optimise their fulfilment processes and improve overall customer satisfaction.

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