Setting up fulfillment

Set up order fulfillment in your Shopify store. Follow the steps below and choose the fulfillment setup that best fits your business.

Step 1: Choose your fulfillment methods

You can choose to fulfill your own orders, use third-party fulfillment services, or use a combination of these fulfillment methods.

When you add a product to your store, you select a fulfillment method for it. This means that there can be different fulfillment methods for items on the same order.

For example, if a customer orders a dropshipped product and a custom product that you create at home, then the dropshipper fulfills the first item, and you fulfill the second item.

Fulfill your own orders

You can fulfill orders yourself by packaging and shipping your own items. You might choose to fulfill orders yourself if your business is new or small, and you need an inexpensive fulfillment method. Fulfilling your own orders also gives you control over specialized packaging.

Fulfillment services

A fulfillment service usually stores, packages, and ships items for you. Using a fulfillment service takes less time than fulfilling your own orders, and can be more cost effective for large businesses.

There are two types of fulfillment services: services that integrate with Shopify using an app, and custom fulfillment services.

After you choose your fulfillment services, you need to activate them in Shopify.

Fulfillment services that integrate with Shopify

Fulfillment apps sync with your Shopify admin so your order updates as the fulfillment progresses. With these fulfillment services, you can also make changes to your fulfillments from your Shopify admin. The types of updates you receive depend on your fulfillment services.

Below are common examples of fulfillment services and apps:

  • General fulfillment services - These services stock, fulfill, and ship on behalf of your store. Learn more about fulfillment services.
  • Dropshipping apps - Some dropshipping apps automatically mark items as fulfilled when they ship the order. Others require you to order your customers' items within their app. Contact your dropshipping app developer to determine the best workflow for orders that use their service.
  • Print-on-demand apps - Most print-on-demand apps automatically mark the items as fulfilled on your behalf when the order is shipped. Check the recommended settings and workflow with your app developer.

Custom fulfillment services

Custom fulfillment services fulfill your orders when they receive an email request. When you mark an item or order as fulfilled in your Shopify admin, the fulfillment service is automatically sent an email with the information they need to fulfill the order for you.

Because custom fulfillment services don't sync with your Shopify admin, your order timeline and fulfillment statuses don't update as the fulfillment progresses.

Activate fulfillment services in Shopify

If you decide to use fulfillment services, then you need to connect them to your Shopify admin.

If you use a custom fulfillment service, then use the instructions in the Shopify Help Center to active your fulfillment service:

If you use fulfillment services that have an app, then use customer support for the fulfillment service.

Step 2: Choose manual or automatic fulfillment

After you set up your fulfillment methods, you choose to fulfill your orders manually or automatically. The setting you choose applies to all fulfillment methods. By default, your store uses manual order fulfillment.

You can change to automatic order fulfillment by configuring your order processing settings.

Manual fulfillment

Manual fulfillment helps you keep track of your inventory and control when an order is sent. Manual fulfillment might be the best method if one of the following situations applies to your business:

  • You make products to order.
  • You have products available for preorder.
  • You sometimes run out of stock.
  • You want to offer your customers partial fulfillment without having to issue a refund.

After a customer places and pays for an order, the status of the order is Unfulfilled until you manually open and fulfill the order.

Automatic fulfillment

After a customer places and pays for an order, order fulfillment begins automatically without you taking any action.

If any of the following situations apply to your business, then automatic fulfillment can help you ship your orders more effectively:

  • you exclusively sell digital downloads or digital gift cards
  • you use fulfillment services for all your products

If you use fulfillment services, then a fulfillment request is sent to your service when the order is paid. You don't need to contact your fulfillment to request fulfillment.

Set up automatic order fulfillment from the order processing settings.

Step 3: Assign fulfillment methods to your products

When you add a product to your store, or edit a product, you select a fulfillment method while completing the Inventory will be stocked at field under product details. Depending on how you manage inventory, you could fulfill orders from multiple locations, which could include one or more store locations as well as one or more fulfillment apps that allow multi-managed inventory.

You can change the fulfillment service for multiple products at the same time by using the bulk editor.

Steps 4: Fulfill your orders

Now that you have fulfillment set up, you can begin fulfilling orders. The steps depend on the fulfillment method. For instructions, click the type of fulfillment you want to complete:

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