how to automate shopify order fulfillment

How to Automate Shopify Order Fulfillment

If your Shopify business is at a size where you’ve outgrown the capacity to manage and fulfill your own orders, first of all, congratulations! This could very well mean your business is growing or has grown to the size you’d hoped it would. It also means you need to take a step back into more of a strategic, visionary role and leave the day-to-day operations to someone — or something — else. This is where order automation comes in handy.

Here, you’ll learn how to automate Shopify order fulfillment in the best way for your business to thrive. This article will guide you through:

  • What Shopify order fulfillment’s all about and what’s involved in setting it up for your store.
  • Automating your Shopify order fulfillment, including benefits, things to consider, and how to know if this is the right route for your business.
  • Steps to take to automate your Shopify order fulfillment, including tips, automatic order archiving and cancelling order fulfillments.
  • An overview of some handy tools for automating Shopify order fulfillment, including Simple Purchase orders for automated POs and procurement.

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What is Shopify Order Fulfillment?

shopify order fulfillment

When a customer places an order with your Shopify store, your job is to prepare and deliver the items in it. The process of doing this is called order fulfillment, and it typically goes something like this:

  • Pick and package products in a box or envelope (or you might have everything pre-packaged and ready to go).
  • Label the order for shipment, including the customer’s delivery address and your return address information.
  • Ship the package with a delivery service or mail carrier.


Shopify Order Fulfillment: Your Setup Options

There are a few decisions you’ll need to make and steps you’ll go through in setting up your Shopify store’s order fulfillment. First, you’ll need to decide on your fulfillment method(s): doing it yourself, using third-party fulfillment services, or implementing a combination of both methods.

The nice thing about Shopify is that when you add a product to your store, you’re prompted to choose a fulfillment method for it, meaning your customers can utilize different fulfillment methods for various items in a single order. For instance, if someone orders a warehouse product and a handmade product you’re making at home, the warehouse can dispatch the first product while you can do so when the second one is ready.

Next, you’ll decide on manual or automatic order fulfillment. Whichever you choose, it will apply to all of your order fulfillment methods. It’s important to note that your store will, by default, use manual fulfillment, but you can easily switch to automatic order fulfillment with simple configuration in your order processing settings.

If you like the idea of automated fulfillment, we’ve got all you need to know about this convenient option — just read on.

Using Automated Shopify Order Fulfillment: The What, Why and When

automate shopify order fulfillment

Automated order fulfillment happens when you implement resources and technology to manage the process automatically and ship items effectively, without any human intervention. This is done because it helps to speed up the process, reduce errors and save time overall — especially if you receive lots of orders on a daily basis.

Automatic order fulfillment for Shopify means you don’t take any actions to complete orders that have been paid for. It’s the most hands-off way to manage and fulfill customer orders, but keep in mind that you can only use this method for certain product types. These include:

  • Anything in your store, so long as all your inventory is being moved through a fulfillment service,
  • Products that don’t need packing and shipping, like digital gift cards or downloads, or
  • Items that aren’t available for pre-order.


Benefits of Automating Your Shopify Order Fulfillment

There are several benefits to automating your Shopify order fulfillment:

Scale-up and save money. For one, you can scale your business quicker and more efficiently while saving money and time, all helping you remain competitive in your market. When you automate, you might see tangible results like increased customer satisfaction, an optimized supply chain, higher sales, and lower fulfillment and labor costs.

Receive orders anytime, anywhere. Another great feature of automated Shopify order fulfillment is that it can literally be done anytime, anywhere, even when you’re not connected to your store. You can be traversing the world or playing with your toddler — anything, really — while your Shopify orders are processed and paid for in the background of your life.

Make your customers happy so that they return and refer you. Communication is key. Your customers want to be informed every step of the way, like through timely updates on their order as soon as it becomes available. Small things like this add up and improve the overall customer experience and can truly mean the difference between getting a repeat purchase and referrals to others or not.

Totally rely on the system, with no risk of price changes. Since automated order fulfillment happens right after a purchase, you won’t have to worry about the time lag between a manual order receipt and fulfillment and the potential risk of price changes that can occur during that period.

Considerations for Automating Your Shopify Order Fulfillment

tips for shopify order fulfillment

When you use automated Shopify order fulfillment, you are inherently running into a few risks. This doesn’t mean you should walk away from your plans, but rather that you should keep these things in mind as you run your business.

Do your due diligence to avoid fraud. Unfortunately, any industry deals with some bad apples who go to any lengths they can to cheat the system. In ecommerce, this can mean people entering stolen credit card and personal information to make purchases they will never pay for. To mitigate this risk so these orders don’t actually get filled and charged back to you, you need a sound fulfillment system and third-party logistics partner (if you’re using one).

Test changes to avoid odd behavior and duplicate orders. There have been issues with some automatic fulfillment systems in the past, including creating duplicate orders. So, you should monitor your automatic system regularly to ensure it’s behaving as it should and not causing problems. You should also test any key changes you want to make to your processes for orders, fulfillment and shipping before going live with those changes. When you run some test orders and returns, you get to see the intricacies of your system and make tweaks before moving your whole store onto it.

Don’t use automatic order fulfillment if you’re packaging and shipping products. Otherwise, your orders will be flagged as fulfilled before you can sort or identify which ones need to be shipped.


Is Automatic Shopify Order Fulfillment Right for You?

With Shopify’s automatic order fulfillment, once your customer places and pays for an order, the process begins automatically without any action being taken by you or your team. What a great thing — with so much to get done in a day, you can focus on other things while your orders are passively being processed! Plus, if you’re using a fulfillment service, an automated request is sent to them once an order has been paid – no need to contact your service provider with a manual request for fulfillment. How’s that for convenience?

Automated Shopify order fulfillment and payment is ideal if you:

  • Use fulfillment services for all of your items,
  • Sell items that don’t need packing and shipping, like digital gift cards or downloads (which a customer automatically gets via an emailed download link, when the order gets marked as being fulfilled), or
  • Don’t sell any products that are available for pre-order.


On the other hand, automated Shopify order fulfillment is not ideal if you:

  • Offer local pickup orders, as they need to be manually fulfilled.
  • Need to package and ship products, as they’ll be marked as fulfilled with no way to sort which orders need to be shipped.


Now that you have some idea if automated Shopify order fulfillment is the way to go for your store, you can get into the nitty-gritty and set yourself up with it. Read on to learn how.


How to Automate Shopify Order Fulfillment with Simple Purchase Orders

automating order fulfillment

It’s easy to automate your fulfillment of every Shopify order with the Simple Purchase Orders Shopify inventory management and order fulfillment tool.

Simple Purchase Orders is there to help with seamlessly automating the order fulfillment of your store. The tool allows you to create supplier records and import their products and cost prices. You can generate purchase orders (POs) automatically for reordering stock and transferring it to your inventory. Plus, the tool will directly send orders to your suppliers whenever you need it to.

Once you’re signed up with Simple Purchase Orders, you just need to configure your Shopify order fulfillment settings accordingly through the Order Processing section. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be set up with automated Shopify order fulfillment in no time.

Step 1: Sign up for Simple Purchase Orders for Free

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Step 2: Go to Settings > Checkout

Within the Shopify admin, select Settings > Checkout, then navigate to the Order Processing area.

Step 3: Choose the Automatic Setting in Order Processing

Under After an order has been paid, choose Automatically fulfill the order’s line items.

Step 4: Send Your Customers Optional Automated Emails

Optional: if you’d like customers to receive an email when their order is automatically fulfilled, select Notify customers of their shipment via email.

Step 5: Save

Be sure to click Save to keep your changes.

Step 6: Choose the Optional Fulfillment Service Setting

Optional: if you’re using a fulfillment service for shipping, ensure you enable the fulfillment service in your settings.

how to automate ecommerce order fulfillment


Note: the above steps are for desktops. If you’re looking to automate your Shopify order fulfillment on your mobile device, visit this help page and select Android or iPhone.

Automated order fulfillment tips

Keep in mind, when you set automatic order fulfillment, your order gets automatically marked as fulfilled as soon as payment is received. And, if you’re accepting manual payments for orders, you’ll need order payment before automatic fulfillment can happen. When it comes to fulfilling partial orders, you won’t be able to use automatic fulfillment.


Automatic order archiving

Once your orders are paid for and shipped out, it can be helpful to archive them so you’re not seeing them with active orders being worked on.  To automatically close your orders, follow the steps below.

  • In your Shopify admin, head to Settings > Checkout.
  • Scroll down to Order Processing.
  • Under After an order has been fulfilled and paid you’ll see the option, Automatically archive the order. Checking this off automatically archives each order after it has been paid for and fulfilled.
  • Click Save.


Or, if you wish to maintain more control or track orders very closely, leave the Automatically archive the order box unchecked and manually archive your orders as you please.


Cancelling automatic and manual order fulfillment

When you cancel an order fulfillment, its status goes back to Unfulfilled. If you’d purchased a shipping label, you’ll need to void it before doing this. Once cancelled, you can buy a new shipping label or start a brand new fulfillment for that order.

Remember, if you’re using a third-party fulfillment service, you’ll still need to connect with them to cancel an order fulfillment. Cancelling it in Shopify alone won’t change anything that’s already in progress.

To cancel an order fulfillment:

  • In your Shopify admin, go to Orders.
  • On the Orders page, select the number of the order you’d like to cancel (it must have a Fulfillment Status of Fulfilled).
  • Within the Fulfillments section, click the “…” button, then Cancel fulfillment.

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Tools for Automating Shopify Order Fulfillment

spo app

Automated POs and Inventory Management: Simple Purchase Orders

Simple Purchase Orders is a Shopify inventory management and order fulfillment tool that makes it extremely easy to automate your store’s order fulfillment. It lets you work seamlessly with dropshipping and wholesale suppliers using automated purchase orders and inventory restocking.

With Simple Purchase Orders, you can:

  • Set up suppliers and import products and their cost prices,
  • Automatically generate purchase orders (POs) to reorder stock and transfer to your inventory, and
  • Forward orders straight to your suppliers.


automatically create pos


Simple Purchase Orders features

  • Automate Shopify order fulfillment.
  • Reorder and transfer your stock to inventory in seconds.
  • Easily set up the tool, with no coding knowledge required.
  • Generate a PO from an order, product, or supplier, automatically filled out with the appropriate products, variants or SKUs.
  • Maintain total control over how your PO looks with the editable template engine.
  • Customize variants by setting supplier SKUs, cost prices, and extra details.
  • Automatically send orders to suppliers the moment an order is paid for.
  • Import the cost price of each product variant and automatically pull it into the PO with the supplier’s information along with your shop’s and customer’s details.
  • Easily work with split orders (orders containing items from at least 2 suppliers).
  • Work with any currency, as the tool supports all.

simple purchase orders influencer

Below, you can quickly learn how to create a PO directly from an order using Simple Purchase Orders:

Get Simple Purchase Orders here.


Third-Party Fulfillment: ShipBob

ShipBob is a third-party logistics (3PL) partner with a cohesive, streamlined fulfillment network, enabled by tech. Their proprietary software connects to your store and you send them your merchandise to be securely stored in their warehouses or fulfillment centers. When your customers place an order with your store, ShipBob picks, packs and ships that order to your customers quickly.


Order Tracking: Tracktor Order Tracking

With Tracktor, you can remove the order tracking support layer for your customers since they can easily see where their order is at for themselves. As the tool is connected with over 1,000 freight operators, they can track their package in real-time, anytime. You’ll also have the chance to rectify any distribution issues before they affect your customers. With mapped in-transit orders, updates on arrivals and notifications on shipping durations, you can use Tracktor’s key insights to make better decisions.


Now that you have a better handle on ecommerce order fulfillment and specifically how to automate Shopify order fulfillment, you can take a critical look at your business and decide how best to move forward. There are many benefits to automating this key aspect of your store. This is thankfully made easy with Shopify and the many tools at your fingertips, like Simple Purchase Orders.

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