Shopify Order Fulfillment Guide for E-commerce Success

Shopify order fulfillment, ecommerce business owner surrounded by shipping boxes, looking at the documents and computer.

Shopify, where would internet shopaholics be without you?

It’s hard to remember a time before the ecommerce platform Shopify swooped in to save customers and businesses from raging online shopfront headaches. Its simple interface and catalogue of features make managing e-stores easier than ever before.

But as loveable as Shopify can be, the Goods team knows getting started with a new platform can be intimidating. That’s exactly why we’ve assembled our team of logistics geeks to whip up this beginner’s tutorial.

Read on and find out how to use Shopify to wrangle your order fulfillment process.

The Basic Facts: What exactly is Shopify, and what does it do?

Shopify is one of the most popular online store management platforms on the market today. In short, it’s a handy toolkit for creating and maintaining your store. Key capabilities include:

  • Store Customization: Use Shopify’s preloaded themes and templates to build your online store—without getting a degree in web design.
  • Product Management: Organize your store products in Shopify, including images and product info.
  • Order Management: Fulfill and track orders through Shopify’s system.
  • Payment Processing: Integrate payment gateways so customers can pay for items using a variety of different methods.
  • Inventory Management: Keep tabs on inventory levels and make sure you don’t run out of a hot item.
  • Marketing Tools: Integrate with social media platforms, and learn from Shopify’s SEO features and metadata.
  • Analytics and Reporting: Study Shopify’s analytics to track sales and monitor customer behavior.
  • Applications: Shopify’s app store can help rope in third-party applications, covering needs Shopify doesn’t fill.

Shopify + Order Fulfillment

Of course, you can’t become an ecom maven without first mastering the challenge of fulfilling orders.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably already used Shopify to kickstart your online store—or you’re about to.

Let’s break down Shopify’s order fulfillment features step by step, and we’ll make sure you know everything you need to get your products into customers’ hands.

Customer Goggles: Understanding the order process from a buyer’s point of view

Before we help you optimize your end of the process, it’s a good idea to understand the Shopify experience from a customer’s view.

  1. Order Placement: You know the drill. A customer visits your online store, browses your products, adds items to their cart, and heads to the checkout page.
  2. Order Notification: Once the customer checks out and payment is approved, you’ll receive a notification from Shopify informing you about the new order.
  3. Order Fulfillment: Seller, is where your work begins. Fulfillment includes picking, packing, and shipping items to your customer.
  4. Order Tracking: Once the order is shipped, the customer receives a tracking number to monitor the status of their delivery.

Seller Goggles: Understanding the order process from a business’s point of view

We’ve covered the basic Shopify experience from the customer’s side of a transaction. So, what does the process look like from the seller’s seat?

When it comes to Shopify store fulfillment, you have a few options:

  • In-House Fulfillment: Do it yourself. This is the typical choice for smaller businesses and merchants looking to minimize costs, but be careful—doing things manually can be a slow and inefficient process, limiting your ability to scale.
  • Third-Party & Custom Fulfillment: Outsource it. Entrust your fulfillment to a third-party service to pick, pack, and ship your orders. This method can save a tremendous amount of time, but costs can be unfeasible for smaller operations. Some business owners also prefer the oversight of managing an in-house process.
  • Integrated Fulfillment: App it. Some examples of Shopify apps you might use to enhance your order fulfillment experience include stocking, dropshipping, and print-on-demand services.
  • The Shopify Fulfillment Network: Shopify it. The Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN) is Shopify’s own homebrew fulfillment solution. It provides end-to-end fulfillment services, including warehousing, inventory management, picking, packing, and shipping.
    • Goods Tip: SFN is a little different from other solutions. Since it’s fully integrated with Shopify, it includes synchronization of inventory, orders, and fulfillment data. Strategically located fulfillment sites enable businesses to reach customers in a variety of different regions. When it comes to marketing, SFN also offers customized packaging materials for a consistent brand image.

Keep in mind that you can select your fulfillment method when you add a product to your store, which means you can fulfill different products via different methods. When prompted, just tell Shopify if the product will be fulfilled manually or automatically.

Above all, if your goal is to improve the efficiency and speed of your Shopify order fulfillment process, make sure you select a fulfillment method that is big enough for your business.

STANDARD STEPS: Filling an order through Shopify

Here’s everything you’ll have to do to complete a standard in-house Shopify order fulfillment process, step by step:

  1. STEP ONE: Access your orders

First things first. Log into Shopify and head to your administrative dashboard. From the homepage, click the “Orders” section, where you’ll find a list of all the orders placed via your storefront.

  1. STEP TWO: Review order details

Simply choose the specific order you’d like to fulfill to see all known details.

Goods Tip: We love automation at Goods—it saves us time and stress. But we recommend you have a doublechecking system in place to ensure all items are included in the order, the shipping address is valid, and the customer’s special instructions are honored.

  1. STEP THREE: Prep the order

Once you’ve confirmed the order details are correct, it’s safe to prepare the items for shipping. Navigate to your inventory to find the products you’ll need to fulfill the order, and have your team pick & prepare the items to send out.

Goods Tip: Depending on the rate of your inbound orders, the strength of your team, and the size of your storage location, this step may call for more advanced logistics tools. Large operations will benefit from a comprehensive warehouse management system, which streamlines the order fulfillment process. This is appropriate when manual recordkeeping—such as paper, Excel, or other old-school systems—just can’t keep up with demand anymore.

Goods Tip: Sometimes customers buy several items or bundles that are stored in different logistics sites. Don’t sweat it. You can use Shopify to fulfill the order in separate “chunks,” all based on the physical location where your inventory is stocked. You can also set your own priority rules to make sure the items are picked in the right order.

  1. STEP FOUR: Choose your shipping method
    Shopify offers a variety of different shipping options, so take the time to select the best fit for the demands of the order. If you like, you can purchase and print shipping labels from Shopify.
  1. STEP FIVE: Update the fulfillment status
    Once the items are picked and packed, head back to the Shopify order details page and mark the order as fulfilled.

Goods Tip: Be advised that this step will notify the customer that their order has been processed and is on its way to them.

  1. STEP SIX: Ship the order

Use the shipping method you selected to send the packaged items to the customer.

  1. STEP SEVEN: Update order tracking information
    If you generated a tracking number, enter it into Shopify to update the tracking information. This will enable customers to track their packages.
  1. STEP EIGHT: Confirm delivery
    Once the customer receives their order, Shopify will automatically update the status to reflect delivery. Great news—your order fulfillment process is finished!

When Ship Hits the Fan: Common challenges for Shopify storefronts

Nobody’s perfect. We’re Shopify fans at Goods (if you couldn’t tell), but it’s important for all business owners to educate themselves about the pitfalls of order fulfillment when using the Shopify platform.

We’ve assembled a list of some common mishaps, followed by our advice on how to fix them—or, better yet, avoid them.

  • PROBLEM: Inventory management errors
    So you ran out of stock due to an inaccuracy, error, or an insufficient inventory management method. This is a major challenge for scaling SMBs, and it can be a customer loyalty-killer. But don’t beat yourself up—with a few best-practice changes, you can iron out the wrinkles in your system.

    SOLUTION: The true answer is to practice better maintenance discipline. Make sure you regularly update your inventory levels in Shopify to reflect stock changes. Better yet, use inventory management tools or apps to fully automate inventory tracking so you receive insights into low stock well before you’re running dry.

  • PROBLEM: Order processing delays

Dealing with delays in your order process due to manual handling or inefficient workflows? At Goods, we hear that a lot.

SOLUTION: Automate, automate, automate. You can optimize your order processing workflows by utilizing Shopify automation features, such as order notifications and bulk actions. Implement standardized procedures for picking, packing, and shipping orders to ensure efficiency.

If Shopify’s tools don’t fit your needs or size, don’t hesitate to investigate bigger omnichannel solutions. And don’t be intimidated by myths based on clunky, overpriced legacy platforms. A modern, user-friendly software can scale to meet you where you are, for a price you can manage—while lifting you to where you’d like to be.

  • PROBLEM: Shipping flubs

Incorrect shipping addresses, failures, and sloppy packaging can lead to broken or missing items. And very annoyed customers.

SOLUTION: Some shipping mishaps can’t be avoided, like bad weather and route disruptions . . . or a mail carrier falling into a puddle. But we find most problems with shipping actually lie in the preparation process.

  • Make sure you have doublechecking procedures in place to verify addresses, methods, and other details before orders ship.
  • Invest in quality packaging to minimize damage to items during transit. Stumbles, spills, and slippery staircases are a part of life, but no one likes opening up a box of rubble.
  • Remember that international shipping and fulfillment considerations can significantly increase operational costs. Customs and import duties add up quickly, so do your homework and negotiate shipping rates with international carriers. You might also consider using third-party shipping solutions to take advantage of special deals, bargains, and scaling rates—particularly those that integrate with Shopify.
  • Track those orders! Make use of Shopify’s tracking features to provide customers with real-time status updates so they know when to expect the goods stuff. Always ensure that tracking information is correct on order confirmation emails, too.
  • PROBLEM: Lackluster customer support

Plain and simple, nothing sours a customer’s attitude faster than bad customer service.

SOLUTION: Shopify apps and integrations offer advanced customer support ticket management. Whenever possible, provide multiple support channels to make your customers’ lives easier.


Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry—at Goods, we’ve found that Shopify is more straightforward than it seems once you dive in and begin exploring features with your team.

When in doubt, come back and consult our guide at any time. By following these steps and picking the practices that comfortably fit your business, you’ll soon benefit from a faster, easier, and more accurate order fulfillment process.

And no more online headaches.