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Shopify Fulfillment Network: What to Know After Flexport Acquisition

Alex Selwitz

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In 2019, Shopify built the Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN) to provide storage, inventory management, picking, packing, and shipping for Shopify sellers. The network comprised a mix of warehouses owned by Shopify and independent eCommerce Fulfillment warehouses that Shopify subcontracted with. In May 2023, Shopify announced the sale of the Shopify Fulfillment Network, including Deliverr, to Flexport, a freight and logistics management company.

Flexport will partner with Shopify to provide in-app fulfillment services, so online sellers that use the Shopify Fulfillment Network can continue to manage their logistics in the Shopify dashboard. In addition, Flexport’s Shopify fulfillment services will support Shopify Promise, a seller badge certifying fast and reliable delivery.

Here’s what you need to know about the Shopify Fulfillment Network, now that it’s under new management.

Who should use the Shopify Fulfillment Network?

Currently, you need to apply to use Shopify Fulfillment Network services. The fulfillment service only ships from the U.S. and won’t ship items on Shopify’s prohibited list. The service doesn’t handle products over 50 pounds or with a long side of 40” or more, so it’s not a fit for brands that sell heavy or oversized products.

Joining SFN is the only way to get the Shopify Promise badge. Like Amazon Prime, the badge can increase sales because it provides proof of fast order delivery. If your products meet the criteria and you want Shopify Promise, SFN could be a good fulfillment choice.

With the sale to Flexport, SFN services may expand. However, you can get excellent Shopify fulfillment today from Red Stag Fulfillment. Our Shopify services include:

  • Shopify plugin for fast, seamless integration with your Shopify store
  • Same-day and next-day fulfillment 
  • Convenient warehouse locations that can reach 96% of U.S. households in two days or less
  • Expert handling of oversized, bulky, and high-value items
  • Industry-leading fulfillment guarantees.
Try RSF's award-winning fulfillment services

How Shopify Fulfillment Network works

Here’s how to get started with Shopify Fulfillment Network:

  1. Designate the products you want to ship with the Shopify Fulfillment Network and get them approved.
  2. Work with Shopify to determine product packaging, including specialized boxes, inserts, infills, kits, and more. Unlike Amazon FBA, SFN will send orders in your custom packaging, if desired.
  3. Send your products to SFN warehouse locations. Shopify/Flexport will make specific recommendations on where to locate your goods, including volume levels.
  4. When you make a sale on a Shopify channel (your store, Facebook, Amazon, Etsy, Instagram, etc.), SFN distributes these out to different fulfillment partners to have orders picked, packed, and shipped.
  5. Use the admin panel to determine inventory amounts and resupply partners when they fall below established thresholds.

You also get metrics and dashboards added to your existing Shopify admin panel, making overall management relatively simple. 

You won’t have as much control as you would if you picked your own 3PL, but SFN can work well for small businesses that appreciate the structure of a pre-fab fulfillment experience.

Once approved, Shopify will handle everyday fulfillment tasks for you, including:

  • Receiving freight shipments and putting the inventory away
  • Picking orders as they happen, regardless of sales channel
  • Packaging orders, either with standard boxes or custom packaging you send to each distribution center
  • Buying shipping and automating the delivery of tracking orders and carrier tracking information
  • Inventory management, including recommendations for reallocation, resupply, and minimum inventory levels.
  • Returns and exchange processing, including verification of goods so that they can be added back to your active inventory.

Do you need to be a Shopify customer?

SFN only works with Shopify customers. Flexport is a large enterprise that offers freight shipping, both internationally and domestically, as well as a range of logistics support. With the acquisition of Shopify Fulfillment Network, Flexport has added order fulfillment to its portfolio.

At the moment, the only fulfillment service listed on Flexport’s website is Shopify fulfillment, but the company may open a similar service offering to sellers who don’t use the Shopify platform in the future. Plus, Deliverr already works with numerous platforms in addition to Shopify.

SFN will work if you:

  • Have a Shopify account and sell through your Shopify store
  • Want to fulfill sales in the United States
  • Offer fewer than 2,000 SKUs
  • Ship at least 10 orders per day
  • Ship under 10,000 orders per day
  • Don’t offer any prohibited or regulated products.

Again, these metrics may shift under Flexport’s management, so check the SFN page for details when you’re ready to apply.

Shopify Fulfillment Network pricing

An essential feature of the Shopify platform is that you get a single monthly bill when you join the SFN. Shopify will add all SFN charges and costs to your existing Shopify subscription and clearly label each charge.

You can get a quote for storage and fulfillment using SFN’s pricing calculator. The calculator includes sample pricing for a range of generic products. For example, the fulfillment cost for a bucket hat is $6.59, and one month of storage for 50 hats is $2.10. A sheet set, the heaviest item on the sample page at 7 pounds, incurs a $13.34 pick and pack fee and $27.60 for 30 days of storage for 50 units.

You can get a sense of SFN pricing by entering the weight and dimensions of your product. Entering the maximum dimensions Shopify Fulfillment Network will accept (50 pounds, 40”x30”x15”) returns a fulfillment cost of $124.61 per unit and $422.10/month to store 50.

In addition to the quoted fulfillment and storage fees, your bill may include extra charges for returns processing, bundling or kitting services, or inventory audits. Your costs may also include penalties for failing to meet contract terms, such as monthly order minimums.

The bottom line: Is SFN worth it?

Shopify Fulfillment Network is a somewhat expensive option for no-frills eCommerce fulfillment compared to the additional services you can get from a Shopify 3PL provider. In addition, with SFN, you have limited control over your inventory and shipping.

As of this writing, the sale to Flexport is too new to evaluate. It may bring efficiencies that make the network more affordable, and the new owners may expand the service offerings. Sellers already using SFN should keep an eye on their fulfillment to ensure they continue to get the level of service they expect. If you’re considering SFN, extra due diligence is in order before signing up for the service. And you might want to consider an alternative.

Alternatives to Shopify Fulfillment Network

Your fulfillment can dictate whether a customer is happy and if they’ll repeat a purchase. That’s why Red Stag Fulfillment makes accurate, efficient order fulfillment our top priority. We work with you during onboarding to ensure our processes are tailored to enhance your customer experience. 

When you work with RSF, you’ll get regular updates and have consistent audits to ensure that your orders go out correctly, on time, and meet your specific packaging standards. That’s all part of our commitment to you.

If you’re wondering whether SFN makes sense for your business, why not reach out to us? We can help you understand the best way to meet your fulfillment needs. Red Stag Fulfillment integrates seamlessly with Shopify sales channels, so you can have accurate fulfillment with Red Stag’s fulfillment guarantees for your Shopify store. And, if we’re not the best match for your business, we’ll introduce you to another company that might be.

Find out how Red Stag Fulfillment can help you with Shopify shipping

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