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This is How to Fulfill Orders on Shopify: a Beginner’s Guide

In the era of eCommerce, everyone knows there is money to be made selling online. But, what happens after you invest a ton of energy into building a Shopify store only to find that you don’t know what to do when you get your first order. Sure, you can follow the guides in Shopify’s knowledge-base, but you still don’t know if you’re making the right decision.

Here, you’ll learn how to fulfill orders on Shopify, no matter what type of online retail you offer. Let’s take a look at everything you should know when that first order or wave of orders comes in: online sales fulfillment basics.

What is Order Fulfillment?

Some new online sellers, when learning how Shopify works, ask if “fulfillment” is the same as shipping. While shipping is one aspect of order fulfillment, it’s not the whole picture. Order fulfillment is every step taken to process a sales transaction from order to delivery. Another way to look at the term is to think of it as the footwork necessary to get your product to your customer’s door.  

order fulfillment

[Image source: BestBuy]

In some cases, you will allow pre-orders of select inventory that is not yet in stock. In these cases, more steps over a longer time period will be taken to fulfill the orders than usual (which is part of why you can’t think of fulfillment as just shipping & delivery).

In other cases, online store owners utilize dropshipping and print on demand services for the physical part of their order fulfillment. In these cases, less steps are needed to fulfill and order.

Still, there are a set of best practices that go into fulfilling an order on a Shopify store.

  1. Inventory Receiving
  2. Product Storage (Warehousing)
  3. Order Processing & Handling
  4. Shipping & Delivery (*Logistics)
  5. Returns, Exchanges, & Refunds

Largely, your receiving, warehousing, and returns processes will vary greatly depending on what type of e-tail business you run. So, for this purpose, let’s focus on item numbers three and four from above: Order Processing and Shipping.

Related Reading: Making Money with Shopify: a Blueprint for New Online Sellers

Does Shopify Handle Fulfillment for Sellers?

Because of the external services the platform promotes, many newbies wonder if Shopify handles fulfillment for sellers. The short answer is, “no.” But, automation is easier than you could imagine. And, even manual order fulfillment in the platform is user-friendly.

Your fulfillment operations within the Shopify admin can vary greatly depending on the third-party services and apps you use. I’ll recommend some later. For now, let’s find out how manual fulfillment works in the Shopify admin. 

How to Manually Fulfill Orders in the Shopify Admin

As a standalone product, Shopify has enough power to generate a successful sales operation. Without the use of any external software, you can sell on the platform. And, when it comes time to fulfill an order, manual steps can be taken.

You would want to use this option when you require greater control over your operations. For example, you might sell handmade or custom products. In this case, you may want to maintain full control over the fulfillment process for the sake of customer service.

manual fulfillment

[Image source: Coralie Reiter]

You might also want to implement manual fulfillment when you need to offer partial fulfillment for one reason or another. For complete, partial, and multiple orders, here’s how to manually fulfill with Shopify.

Complete Manual Fulfillment in Shopify

Here are the steps to manually fulfill a complete order from your Shopify Admin.

  1. Log in to your Shopify admin and go to Orders.
  2. Find and click the number of the order you want to fulfill.
  3. If using Shopify Shipping, select Create Shipping Label in the Unfulfilled section and buy a shipping label for your order.


  1. If you’re NOT using Shopify Shipping, select Mark as Fulfilled, and enter the tracking number from your shipping provider.
  1. Select Fulfill Items to mark the order complete.
  2. Click Buy Shipping Label.

The steps are pretty cut-and-dried.

Partial Manual Fulfillment in Shopify

Here are the steps to manually fulfill a partial order from yous Shopify Admin if you’re using Shopify Shipping.

  1. Log in to your Shopify admin and go to Orders.
  2. Find and click the number the order you want to partially fulfill.
  3. Select Create Shipping Label in the Unfulfilled section and buy a shipping label for your order.
  4. Go back to the Fulfillment page.
  5. Change the number of products that you want to fulfill for each line item in the Items section.
  6. Select your shipping method.
  7. Click Buy Shipping Label.

At this point, you will need to repeat these steps until the order is entirely fulfilled or issue a refund. When the process is complete, don’t forget to mark the order fulfilled in your admin.

Manual Fulfillment for Multiple Orders in Shopify

Here are the steps to manually fulfill multiple orders at one time in Shopify.

  1. Log in to your Shopify admin and go to Orders.
  2. Open the Unfulfilled tab to see only the orders that still need to be fulfilled.
  3. Click the checkboxes next to the orders you want to fulfill.
  4. Select Actions.
  5. Select Fulfill Orders.
  6. Select Fulfill.

Voila! That’s it — you’re done.

(Note: Shopify does allow users to fulfill orders via mobile. When fulfilling an order from an Android or iOS device, these steps may look a little different.)

How to Automate Order Fulfillment for Shopify

While manual fulfillment is great for smaller stores with handmade goods and one-on-one customer relationships, it won’t work for stores with massive product catalogs. And, it will probably not benefit a store whose inventory is stored in multiple warehouses.

So, if you’re an enterprise seller or you’re just interested in automating your workflow for convenience, here’s more on Shopify fulfillment automation.

Can Fulfillment be Fully-Automated with Shopify?

If you create handmade gifts or you run a small boutique out of your home, of course the entire fulfillment process can’t be automated — you need to deal with packaging, shipping, etc. But, if your inventory is stored in a warehouse/ fulfillment center, you are probably wondering how to completely automate the fulfillment process. Can it be done?

While part of your job as an online seller is to monitor your operations, you can mostly automate the fulfillment process in Shopify.

In 2017, an automation platform called DropVessel attempted to fully-automate the drop shipping processes in Shopify.

[Image source: Shopify Community]

Unfortunately, their run didn’t last. Technical issues arose and it turned out there was no one-size-fits-all method for automating fulfillment. Now, there’s no sign of DropVessel online or in the Shopify App Store.

DropVessel not around anymore

[Image source: Shopify App Store]

Today, to automate your processes, you will need to enlist the help of a set of apps, not just a single one. And, you can automate many operations with the right combination of tools.

Does Oberlo Automatically Fulfill Orders?

Oberlo is one of Shopify’s top-promoted partners, connecting sellers directly to dropshippers worldwide.


[Image source: Oberlo]

And while their platform provides users with tons of automation, they themselves don’t claim to deliver a fully-automated system. Instead, Oberlo themselves refer to the process as “semi-automatic.” As a user, you will still need to initiate fulfillment by placing orders in your Oberlo dashboard after they are ordered on Shopify.

Recommended Tools for Shopify Fulfillment Automation

A few apps stand out from the rest when it comes to fulfillment automation. Here are a few favorites along with costs and a brief summary.

1. ShipHawk | Price: unknown

A powerful, all-in-one shipping and transportation automation platform, referred to as TMS 2.0.



2. Upinus | Price: $19.90 per month and up

A global supply chain platform for all internet retailers. Includes product sourcing, fulfillment, and inventory management.



3. Ali Orders | Price: Free plan available

Dropshipping automation with product imports and integrated reviews.

Ali Orders


Final Thoughts

While you can’t completely set your eCommerce operations on auto-pilot, you can come pretty close. Use this guide as a starting point to fulfill orders on the Shopify platform no matter what type of online retail company you run. Reach out if you have questions and stay tuned for more Shopify advice.

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