Shopify was designed to make it easy for anyone to set up an eCommerce shop. That might be why it’s the most popular eCommerce platform, with more than 800,000 storefronts and counting. Shopify makes selling easy, but that’s only part of the equation for online retail. ECommerce fulfillment is a vital part of your operations. Here are three options to simplify shipping for Shopify, no matter how large or small your Shopify store is.
Three options for your Shopify order fulfillment and shipping
Every eCommerce seller has many options for order fulfillment. The three primary ways to handle shipping for Shopify are: ship yourself, use the Shopify Fulfillment Network, or use a fulfillment center. If you keep your order processing in-house, you don’t have to do everything on your own — Shopify Shipping can lend a hand.
Here’s what you need to know to evaluate your choices and decide how best to handle shipping for Shopify. Remember, also, that what works for your Shopify store may change over time as your business grows.
1. Shopify Shipping
With Shopify Shipping, you can see all your shipping information in your Shopify store dashboard. You print shipping labels right from the dashboard and track your packages through Shopify as well.
Pros and cons of Shopify Shipping
It’s helpful to make a pro and con list when you consider your shipping options. Here are some of the considerations for Shopify Shipping.
- Shopify Shipping makes eCommerce shipping simple.
- You get access to discounted shipping rates you couldn’t get on your own.
- One monthly bill from Shopify covers all your costs, including shipping.
- It’s easy to set your shipping rates at checkout.
- You can use Shopify Shipping to set free shipping minimum order amounts.
- FedEx is not one of the options for Shopify Shipping.
- It’s a little too easy to introduce an element of human error. For example, you might choose the wrong packaging type when you print the order label. Or you could print a shipping label with the incorrect shipping service level.
- Shopify Shipping is only for merchants with in-house fulfillment. If you outsource your order fulfillment, you’ll have to find other ways to get discounts from shipping carriers.
Shopify Shipping rates
You can use Shopify Shipping with Basic Shopify, Shopify, or Shopify Advanced. At all levels, you get discounted shipping, but your shipping rate savings will depend on which type of Shopify store you have. Shopify advertises savings of as much as 88% off of retail shipping rates. Use the Shopify shipping calculator to find out what your rates would be.
Who should use Shopify Shipping?
Shopify Shipping is an excellent choice for small online merchants. If you’re starting your first store or online retail is your side hustle, Shopify Shipping will help you compete on shipping costs. However, if you ship more than five orders a day, Shopify recommends moving up to the Shopify Fulfillment Network.
2. Shopify Fulfillment Network
The Shopify Fulfillment Network is a third-party fulfillment solution for Shopify merchants. You ship your products to Shopify for storage, pick and pack services, and shipping. Like with other 3PLs, you will pay fulfillment and warehousing fees. Unlike other 3PLs, your fulfillment services are integrated with your Shopify store.
At this time, the Shopify Fulfillment Network only delivers orders within the U.S. Shopify stores that ship fewer than 200 SKUs and ship between three and 200 orders per day can use this fulfillment service. Shopify’s warehouses aren’t set up to provide fulfillment for perishable products or regulated items.
Shopify Fulfillment Network vs. Amazon FBA
When compared with Amazon FBA, the Shopify Fulfillment Network has pros and cons.
On the plus side for Amazon, its fulfillment operations are far more extensive, with warehouses in every corner of the U.S. Amazon operates its own warehouses, while Shopify contracts with third-party logistics companies to provide its fulfillment services. Plus, Shopify is a relative newcomer to fulfillment, while Amazon has had years to refine its fulfillment operations. You can use FBA to ship orders from your Shopify store, but Shopify doesn’t offer multi-channel fulfillment.
Shopify has the advantage when it comes to branding. While all Fulfillment by Amazon orders go out in Amazon-branded boxes, Shopify will send orders in your packaging and even include package inserts for you. Unlike Amazon, Shopify does not sell products of its own and will not knock off your products or sell your information to outside vendors. And, while Shopify doesn’t have Amazon’s sophisticated warehouse system (yet), it owns 6 River Systems, a company that makes some of the most advanced AI and robots for use in warehousing operations.
Pros and cons of the Shopify Fulfillment Network
Beyond the comparisons to Amazon, here are some additional things to consider before choosing the Shopify Fulfillment Network.
- Easy integration with your Shopify stores.
- You are in control of your fulfillment, down to extras that go in your orders (a big difference from FBA).
- When Shopify Fulfillment sends an order for you, the shipping notification emails come from your business.
- Shopify has vetted its fulfillment partners and will manage their work, so you don’t have to.
- You get recommendations for the best warehouse locations for your products.
- You can only send orders that were placed in your Shopify store through Shopify’s fulfillment services.
- The Shopify Fulfillment Network is only open to U.S. and Canadian companies.
- Shopify will store your products in warehouses run by multiple outside 3PL companies, so your fulfillment could be inconsistent.
- Control of your fulfillment operations is in Shopify’s hands, not yours.
Shopify Fulfillment Network costs
The Shopify Fulfillment Network is not the cheapest fulfillment solution, but the convenience may make up for the price. You’ll pay for storage plus a pick and pack fee for each order. You will also be billed special project fees for services, including receiving inventory, kitting, and returns. Special project fees also include penalties that Shopify assesses for things such as sending inbound inventory incorrectly.
Who should use Shopify Fulfillment Network?
If you are a dedicated Shopify seller and don’t want the hassle of doing your own fulfillment or finding and managing a 3PL yourself, Shopify Fulfillment Network can be a good choice. However, if you’re an omnichannel merchant or you think you might outgrow the Shopify platform at some point, you might be better served by developing a relationship with a third-party logistics company.
3. Third-party shipping for Shopify
It’s easy to manage third-party Shopify shipping. You can manage 3PL fulfillment in your Shopify dashboard. Plus, since Shopify is the most popular eCommerce platform, almost every 3PL will offer a ready-made Shopify integration.
Working with a fulfillment company puts you entirely in charge of your eCommerce company from start to finish. You choose the right fulfillment company for your products and develop a long-term partnership with that provider. As your business grows and changes, you can stay with your original logistics company.
Shifting fulfillment warehouses is costly. You incur the expense of shipping your products to the new warehouse and backorders until the new warehouse finishes your onboarding process. Choosing the right 3PL now is a terrific investment in the future of your eCommerce company.
Pros and cons of third-party shipping for Shopify
Working with a 3PL isn’t the right choice for every Shopify seller. Here are some of the items to put in your pro and con columns.
- You have complete control over your fulfillment operations.
- A 3PL may have no order minimums or maximums.
- The warehouse you choose might have no limits (or higher limits) on the number of SKUs.
- You can ship a full range of products, including perishable or restricted items.
- Shopify will use your branded packaging and inserts when shipping your orders.
- Many 3PLs offer shipping discounts to their clients.
- You’ll have a wider choice of shipping carriers, including FedEx.
- Your 3PL can ship all your orders from every sales platform out of one set of inventory, rather than holding separate stock for your Shopify store.
- The work of managing your fulfillment falls to you (with help from your 3PL).
- You face the task of finding the best 3PL company for your business.
- You need to integrate a third-party dashboard into your Shopify operations and won’t be able to manage everything from inside Shopify (however, there are apps to help you do this).
3PL Shopify shipping costs
Shopify shipping costs will vary from one fulfillment center to the next. You can expect to pay warehousing and pick and pack fees, plus extra for special services such as kitting. When you consider logistics costs, look beyond the bottom line at the total fulfillment value. Take into account the savings you’ll see from professional fulfillment services.
Who should use third-party shipping for Shopify?
Any Shopify seller with expansion plans should consider third-party fulfillment. Omnichannel eCommerce businesses are best served by a fulfillment warehouse that can process orders from several different platforms. If you’re ready for professional fulfillment, consider working with a 3PL. You can find a fulfillment center that’s a good fit for your business, no matter your size.
Let Red Stag Fulfillment handle your shipping for Shopify
Red Stag Fulfillment offers Shopify shipping and fulfillment services. We specialize in omnichannel fulfillment, with seamless integrations that link to dozens of eCommerce platforms and marketplaces. We even provide Amazon Seller Prime Fulfillment.
If you’re ready for all-in-one fulfillment for your Shopify store and beyond, give Red Stag Fulfillment a call.