In today's fast-paced ecommerce world, customers expect quick and efficient delivery of orders. To meet these expectations, merchants need to streamline their fulfillment and shipping processes, enabling them to get orders out the door as quickly as possible. This involves finding faster ways to review unfulfilled orders, purchase shipping labels, print shipping labels, print packing slips, pick inventory for orders, pack and label orders, and hand off packages to the carrier—a job that becomes more difficult and time consuming as order volume grows.
In this blog, we’ll review some tips and tricks to help you streamline your fulfillment operations as your business grows, so you can get orders out the door as quickly as possible.
This video walks through Tip 1 - 5, showing you how to organize orders by similar attributes, create saved views, buy and print shipping labels in bulk, create manifests, and track delivery status for a group of orders.
Tip 1: Customize and organize your orders list
Fulfilling multiple orders at once can be a great way to save time during the fulfillment process. To speed up this process even further, you may want to consider organizing your orders and grouping them based on similar attributes. Using the orders list page in Shopify, you can easily group your orders using search, filters, and tags. You can even customize the way you view these orders by adding and removing columns. Even better, you can save these views, so future orders automatically get organized as they come into your store.
There are many ways to organize and group your orders. One suggestion is to group orders by product or order items. Start by filtering by unfulfilled orders, then filter orders by product or SKU, which can be done by selecting the filter or with the search bar. These products are likely sitting together in your warehouse, so you can speed up fulfillment by picking and packing these orders all at once instead of running across your warehouse to pick and pack a mix of inventory items.
Another way to organize your orders would be by destination market. Many merchants use one carrier for US-based orders and another carrier for Canadian orders. By fulfilling these orders all at once, the carrier who handles your US based orders can pick up all these packages in one go.
Tip 2: Create, purchase and print shipping labels in bulk
Once you have your orders organized and are ready to fulfill, bulk select these orders and click “Create shipping labels.” Using the shipping labels index, you can double check that all the information required for shipping is correct, which includes packaging, carrier service, and insurance coverage. Shopify even automatically suggests the best packaging for each order, based on historical order data. Any changes can be made directly in this central view. Once you've validated the information is correct, you can buy the shipping labels and print them and packing slips for these orders all in one go.
💡Pro Tip: Use the printed packing slips as your pick list to make it easy to find the inventory items required for this group of orders on your warehouse floor.
Tip 3: Reduce pickup time with USPS manifests
If you use USPS for shipping, you have the option to create a manifest for all USPS orders. With manifests, you can generate a single bar code that houses all of the shipping details for a group of orders. This means, when you drop off or schedule a pickup with USPS, they can scan the single bar code on the manifest to accept the shipment, instead of scanning the shipping label for each order individually, saving time in your fulfillment process.
Tip 4: Check statuses on the orders page or shipping labels index
The label printer has run out of ink or needs troubleshooting half way through a print job. Now what? To avoid this very common headache, you can use the label printer index to quickly check which labels have printed and which ones have not. To do this, filter by “Not printed,” bulk select those orders, and click “Print shipping labels.” In addition to reprinting labels, you can also use the shipping label index to void shipping labels that have already been printed, reprint packing slips, and reprint custom forms for international orders.
Another common headache for merchants is dealing with delivery delays caused by the carrier. Using the orders page or the shipping labels index, you can also check the delivery status—In Transit, Out for Delivery, Delivered—for each order. With a quick glance, you can determine if an order is taking longer to deliver than expected, then work with the carrier to troubleshoot the issue. Solving these delivery delay problems early can help ensure the package still gets delivered to your customer quickly.
Tip 5: Automate fulfillment processes with Shopify Flow
Another great way to speed up the fulfillment process is to automate mundane fulfillment tasks with Shopify Flow. Once installed, you can browse from a list of pre-existing fulfillment and order automation templates, or create your own automation flow from scratch.
Some of the most common fulfillment flows that merchants use are:
- Hold fulfillment based on risk level: Where high risk orders are automatically identified and put on hold.
- Hold orders if customer placed more than 1 order in the last 24 hours: Where orders shipping to the same address are put on hold, so they can be managed, fulfilled and shipped together, saving you time and reducing the cost of shipping.
- Send fulfillment request for paid orders that use a specified fulfillment service: For merchants working with third-party-logistic providers, you can automatically assign a fulfillment to that 3PL.
- Add order tag with assigned fulfillment location: To keep orders more organized by automatically tagging the order with the fulfillment location that the order has been assigned to, making it easy for the fulfillment workers at that location to see the orders they need to fulfill that day.
Tip 6: Pick the best fulfillment location with smart order routing
For merchants with multiple fulfillment locations, smart order routing is another great tool to speed up the fulfillment process, deliver orders faster, and reduce the cost of shipping.. With smart order routing, you can automatically prioritize and assign the best location to fulfill an order based on a set of rules. There are four rules that come out of the box with smart order routing:
- Ship from the closest location: Where the order gets routed to the location nearest to the customer’s delivery address to minimize the delivery time and cost of shipping.
- Stay within the destination market: Where the order gets routed to a fulfillment location in the same country or region as the customer to avoid custom tariffs and duties.
- Minimize split fulfillments: To ensure the fulfillment location has all the items in an order in stock, so they can be fulfilled all at once.
- Ranked locations: Where the merchant can rank their preferred fulfillment locations, whether its a warehouse, 3PL or physical retail store.
Once the rules are chosen, they can be ranked in order of priority. Then, as an order comes through, Shopify automatically checks which fulfillment locations have that inventory available, then applies the order routing logic set to determine the location that orders gets sent to for fulfillment.
Efficient order fulfillment is crucial for any growing ecommerce businesses to meet customer expectations and scale its operations effectively. By organizing orders, fulfilling orders in bulk, using manifests, addressing printer and delivery errors quickly, and automating manual parts of the fulfillment process, you can streamline fulfillment operations and deliver products faster to your customers. These tips and tricks will not only help you save time and reduce shipping costs, but also improve the customer experience. Keep up with your growth with a scalable and efficient fulfillment operation.