How Does Fulfillment Work on Shopify?

How Does Fulfillment Work on Shopify?

Are you selling products via a website built using Shopify? Are you thinking about setting up a Shopify account to start an online store? Either way, you will definitely want to make sure that you’re informed about the order fulfillment process that Shopify uses.

How Does Fulfillment Work on Shopify?

There are several reasons why you might consider outsourcing such a critical component of your business, such as logistics not being a core skill set of your business or the increased overhead of managing them in-house. While seeking the expertise of those for whom logistics is their core business may sound like a no-brainer, it’s important you understand the pros of working with a 3PL company to fulfill your orders on Shopify.

Here are a few advantages of using a 3PL:

  • Less investment/risk: You don’t have to invest in an expensive warehouse, storage, packing, or shipping supplies. You can even provide branded shipping supplies to your 3PL to ensure you maintain brand consistency.
  • Savings on shipping: 3PLs often handle merchandise from several sellers and tend to ship products in bulk. This means that they can negotiate contracts with carriers that make shipping more affordable. Not only does this save you shipping costs, but you can pass those savings on to your customers, making shopping with you more attractive.
  • Leverage expertise: 3PLs have a lot of experience in picking, packing, storing, and shipping different kinds of merchandise. By letting them do what they do best, you can focus on growing your business without having to worry about being able to manage an increase in order load.

Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN)

The Shopify Fulfillment Network, or SFN, is an option for business owners running their eCommerce store on Shopify to outsource fulfillment. SFN can be an invaluable solution for eCommerce business owners who either don’t have the time or the know-how to handle the time-consuming and often tedious task of fulfilling customer orders.

By outsourcing the order fulfillment process to a 3PL fulfillment service, Shopify store owners can free up their time so that they can focus on more important things, like growing their company and improving customer satisfaction.

However, is Shopify Fulfillment Network, the in-house order fulfillment option that Shopify offers, really worth your while? Compare the disadvantages of SFN and other 3PL fulfillment providers to find out which option is best for your business.


  • Currently, only open to US sellers.
  • Need to hit certain requirements in order to be eligible for SFN:
  • Offer fewer than 2000 SKUs
  • You must ship at least 10 orders per day
  • You can’t ship more than 10,000 orders a day
  • There are certain restricted items SFN won’t manage.

While Shopify offers a great solution for those who sell in their ecosystem and fulfill their requirements, it doesn’t cover those who don’t. Therefore, it’s important to do your own research and find a great 3PL partner for your store’s growth.

3PL Warehouse Integration with Shopify

MAI Fulfillment Inventory & Order Management System (OMS) offers a Shopify Integration that makes it easy to manage all of your orders. MAI Fulfillment in Chicago, IL offers Shopify Integration website owners the option to have the OMS as their system of record (SOR) or use their Shopify store as their SOR. It makes it easy to manage all of your orders from all of your marketplaces and sales channels.

This integration sends all of your marketplace orders directly to your Shopify store. It then pulls tracking numbers and SKU inventory and sends them back to the marketplaces where your OMS is connected. This makes sure that all other marketplaces have the most current inventory level for each SKU.

Why do companies choose to work with a 3PL provider?

If you’ve never worked with a 3PL before, it might sound like an expensive solution to an albeit annoying workflow. After all, picking, packing, and shipping orders from your warehouse or brick-and-mortar store can be a cheaper option than hiring third-party help.

However, it’s sensible to choose a 3PL before you’re overwhelmed by order growth. Not just a solution for enterprise-sized brands, 3PLs are designed for merchants of any size with the intention to scale. Suppose you have a flash sale or one of your products goes viral. It’s not always feasible (or cost-effective) to handle that surge of orders in-house.

The best 3PL logistics companies are experts in fulfillment and can help set up automatic fulfillment processes to increase customer satisfaction and decrease time spent picking and packing. When an order is placed, your 3PL provider will have the order fulfilled automatically so your package is ready to be shipped in a timely manner.

Three key questions will help you determine whether it’s time to enlist the services of a 3PL Company

  • Are you fulfilling more than 10 to 20 orders per day?
  • Running out of inventory storage space?
  • Can your existing infrastructure handle a surge in demand?

Do what you do best—and allow others to do what they do best. 3PLs are specialists in logistics. By allowing them to manage your shipping and fulfillment, you’ll have more time to invest in a big-picture strategy.

MAI Fulfillment | ECommerce Fulfillment Company Chicago, IL

Warehouse | Cross Docking | Fulfillment | Kitting | Inbound/Outbound Voice | Freight Broker

Established in 1981, MAI is a privately-held 3PL company in Chicago specializing in warehousing, fulfillment, and omnichannel contact services. As an experienced outsourced provider, we provide value-added solutions designed to help companies build and maintain relationships with their customers.

The MAI business model offers clients the efficiency and convenience of dealing with a single accountable resource for a wide range of services. MAI areas of specialization include:

  • Custom B2B and B2C warehouse/fulfillment solutions
  • Omni-channel contact center services
  • Technology support

A wide range of service offerings, strategic problem-solving skills, and experience make MAI a valued partner to a broad range of Fortune 500 companies. “Quality” is more than just a word here – it’s the foundation of how we conduct business and an integral part of the processes and metrics we use to deliver value to our clients every day.

Contact MAI today to learn more!

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