Shopify Fulfillment Network: How Does It Work and Is It the Best Fulfillment Option for Ecommerce Businesses?
The online ecommerce industry is seeing rapid growth, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. People can now order nearly all the items they need from the convenience of their homes. As a result, businesses are experiencing a bulk load of orders.
While getting orders might be a pleasant side for an ecommerce business, fulfilling them isn’t easy. It is the most tedious and mundane part of running an ecommerce website. According to Pitney Bowes, the parcel volume will reach the 300 billion mark by 2027 globally.
This means that fulfilling orders can become more and more challenging for businesses. As the ecommerce industry is becoming increasingly competitive, businesses need to streamline their order fulfillment process.
Failure to do so will put their sustainability at stake. Since most ecommerce businesses are hosted on Shopify, their order fulfillment process comprises various integral components. They work hand-in-hand to give you an effective ecommerce fulfillment service.
In this article, we’ll discuss the process that goes behind the Shopify Fulfillment Network and how you can use it to benefit your business. We’ll cover the pros and cons and provide you with the top alternatives.
Table of Content
- What Is Shopify Fulfillment Network?
- How Does Shopify Fulfillment Network Work?
- What Are the Pros and Cons of Shopify Fulfillment Network?
- Shopify Fulfillment Network Pricing
- Shopify Fulfillment Network Reviews
- Four Best Shopify Fulfillment Network Alternatives
- Is Shopify Fulfillment Network the Best Solution for Ecommerce Business?
What Is Shopify Fulfillment Network?
The Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN) is the Shopify-designed and designated fulfillment service that businesses can use for their ecommerce fulfillment processes. It helps you keep an inventory stock and fulfill incoming orders.
When a business gets an order, the SFN will fulfill the order within the next 2 days. Shipments throughout the US will be delivered to customers in a couple of days.
The SFN also helps you with the following things:
- Packaging: With the help of the Shopify fulfillment service, you can offer more personalized packaging to your customers with your brand material. That way, you can enhance your reach and improve your brand identity.
- Shipping: The SFN will usually handle everything related to the shipment of your products. Business owners can also get tracking information automatically throughout the ecommerce fulfillment process.
- Inventory Management: Using ML (Machine Learning) and AI (Artificial Intelligence), the platform will recommend the best Shopify Fulfillment Network locations to help you save time and costs.
- Returns: The platform will also manage all the returns and exchanges on your behalf. They will repack all the returned items and place them in your current stock.
Simply put, the SFN helps you to manage all your business data through a single platform. Whether managing your inventory levels or tracking a shipment, you can use the Shopify fulfillment app for a complete business overview.
How Does Shopify Fulfillment Network Work?
The first thing you need to do to get started with the Shopify Fulfillment Network is to submit an application. Once the platform reviews and approves your ecommerce website and shipment requirements, it’ll start its fulfillment network process.
The process is quite simple, and you can manage it through your current admin panel.
Below is the step-by-step process to help you out with getting started:
Step 1: Assign the items that the Shopify Fulfillment Network will ship and get them approved.
Step 2: Decide the product packaging and discuss it with Shopify.
Step 3: Choose the products that you selected and then place them in the Shopify partner locations. The platform will give you recommendations regarding where you should place your products and what volume levels will be suitable for your business.
Step 4: After making a sale on the Shopify channel (your store, social media platforms, etc.), the SFN will distribute the orders to the various fulfillment partners to get the orders picked, packed, and shipped.
Use the admin panel to find out real-time information about the inventory levels and then restock them when they decrease below the thresholds.
The overall process for the SFN is relatively simple, and you won’t find any complications on your end. Additionally, you’ll get the metrics and dashboards included in your existing admin panel on the ecommerce platform. As a result, it will make the overall management of your ecommerce business smooth and easy.
Shopify Fulfillment Network Locations
Many Shopify fulfillment network locations are available globally. Whether in North America, Europe, Asia, or Australia, you can find an SFN store near you. Each location offers you the best services for Shopify fulfillment, such as optimal security measures, 24/7 customer support, and much more.
You’ll also find different amenities through the Shopify fulfillment locations as well. For instance, the Los Angeles Shopify fulfillment centers offer state-of-the-art security systems. On the other hand, the New York Shopify fulfillment centers offer 24/7 support services.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Shopify Fulfillment Network?
Just like every other thing in ecommerce, the Shopify Fulfillment Network has certain pros and cons. Let’s go over them in more detail to give you a better idea.
We’ll start with the advantages:
Shopify Fulfillment Network Pros
- Availability of same-day fulfillment in specific markets - the customer and the SFN location must be close by, and the product should have sufficient size/volume.
- Don’t have to worry about dealing with exchanges and returns since the fulfillment center will handle them for your business.
- Enjoy support service for Shopify sales elements, such as wholesale channels for B2B and much more
- Get easy access to various analytical tools to forecast demand, inventory allocation, and more.
- Get recommendations from the platform according to your customer locations and DC size.
- No matter what total distribution nodes you have, the SFN makes inventory management simple and efficient.
- Reliable shipping services with budget-friendly rates through UPS and USPS.
- Have complete access and control over your data.
Meanwhile, the disadvantages that you need to consider include:
Shopify Fulfillment Network Cons
- Since Shopify will receive the product, there is no check and balance over quality control.
- The fees for the services of fulfillment by Shopify can be expensive for some businesses.
- It might not be available in a location nearby your business.
- The platform can only cater a minimum of 10 orders and a maximum of 10,000 orders per day.
Shopify Fulfillment Network Pricing
The Shopify fulfillment pricing has a bit of a tricky structure since it offers custom quotes. Therefore, it becomes difficult for you to estimate the Shopify fulfillment pricing for your business requirements. Nevertheless, you can contact Shopify, and they can provide a quote.
One thing to keep in mind is that the fees are calculated daily.
There are certain factors that determine the price for your services, such as:
Shopify will assess and determine all the factors, such as size, delivery time, etc., to know about your transportation needs.
Picking and Packaging Requirements
The location where the company has to pick your products and whether you want customized packaging affects the pricing of the service too.
The space that your inventory would require also plays a major role in the Shopify fulfillment network pricing. Greater storage space means that you would have to pay a higher amount.
This factor comes into play for products with a short lifetime, such as a fast trend or a seasonal product.
This fee is charged when the products you send to the SFN have an inaccurate, missing, or unclear barcode. The company will charge for the accurate relabeling of the product.
Shopify Fulfillment Network Reviews
The rating of Shopify services on the Trustpilot service is around 1.7 out of 5 stars. Its profile has more than 83% of 1-star reviews, and customers aren’t too happy about its services.
Some customers have complained how they had a hard time getting their payments from Shopify.
Others complained about the horrible customer service and data leaks, leading to the loss of valuable information. Some unhappy customers also complained about the high Shopify Fulfillment Network cost.
Nonetheless, there were a few positive reviews of Shopify on the Trustpilot platform as well.
But overall, the Shopify Fulfillment Network reviews on Trustpilot highlighted the platform’s negative aspects.
On the other hand, Shopify does enjoy a good rating on the TrustRadius platform.
Four Best Shopify Fulfillment Network Alternatives
Finding a company for fulfillment services can be challenging and daunting.
So, to help you out, here is a list of the four best Shopify fulfillment network alternatives, along with their features and pros and cons. You can choose the best one according to your business needs.
1. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
Amazon is a popular ecommerce website that allows you to benefit from its fulfillment services. Businesses offering only their products through Amazon might want to join the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program. That way, they can keep all the things under one roof.
This entails sending the products to Amazon’s fulfillment centers, which will give you access to the two-day shipping option. It will help customers feel in favor of purchasing your products.
Below are the pros and cons of using this service.
- Lower operating costs
- Amazon’s incredibly efficient systems
- Greater work flexibility
- Long-term storage fees
- Payment of Amazon FBA fees
- A long list of requirements for product preparation
2. Red Stag Fulfillment
If you don’t have much experience with fulfillment services, then Red Stag is an option worth considering. You can get a trial of 30 days to get familiar with its services.
Furthermore, it has a wide range of amazing features, such as integrations with different online shopping cart tools. Also, the company gives you updates about your inventory so you can fulfill customer orders without any issues.
Below are some of the pros and cons of using this service.
- Amazing service guarantees and clarity about its operations
- Budget-friendly rates for the shipping of items
- No requirement for long-term contracts
- A limited number of warehouse
- The UX/UI design isn’t user-friendly
- Costly pick and pack fees
If your business setup is in Europe, then ShipMonk is the best option. It is an optimal fulfillment solution that has warehouses throughout Europe. The company has one in the UK and is planning to open in other parts of Europe. You’ll also find warehouses for ShipMonk in Canada and Mexico.
The key feature that helps it to stand out from the rest of the competition is that it offers over 100 integrations. As a result, it can fit perfectly with your existing business processes. You’ll also notice transparent billing and reports to get an accurate estimate of expenses.
- Excellent customer support
- Much better accuracy in terms of operations
- Value for money
- Complaints about not following up on lost packages and breakage
- High shipping prices
4. ShipHero Fulfillment
Last but not least, ShipHero is also an option you can use as an alternative to Shopify. There are around seven warehouses that you’ll find throughout North America. These warehouses distribute your products according to the customers’ locations.
The best thing about the ShipHero fulfillment service is that it streamlines the inventory and warehouse management system. That way, you can replenish stock timely to ensure no delays in product fulfillment.
Let’s go over the pros and cons of this fulfillment service.
- Robust features that help you keep track of your inventory levels
- A more organized and efficient shipping service
- Extensive 3PL software
- 24/7 support available only through email
- Minimum order volume requirements
- A limited network of warehouse
Is Shopify Fulfillment Network the Best Solution for Ecommerce Business?
The Shopify fulfillment services can help you ensure customers receive their orders on time. You can use the Shopify Fulfillment Network app to stay updated on the inventory levels and other major aspects of your ecommerce business. In sum, there is a wide range of benefits that you can get from Shopify apps. Using the services of Shopify fulfillment, you can unlock various new opportunities for your business.
Meanwhile, if you need some extra help in the marketing, personalization, and building a loyal customer base for your business, check out Coretava. Our interactive, customizable tools can help you take your ecommerce company to the next level.
Connect today to learn more about how we can help your business grow.
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Daniela has 6 years of experience in digital marketing for ecommerce businesses.
Aws is the Co-Founder of Coretava, a complete retail ecommerce growth platform. He has 6+ years of experience in managing and growing ecommerce businesses.