Shopify Order Fulfillment For Your Online Business

September 16, 2020

E-commerce platforms have gained in popularity over the last handful of years, and we can certainly see why. Shopping online has become the norm. While it’s tough to beat the experience of going to the store and having personal interaction with others, there is something to be said about the convenience that online shopping gives you — I mean, who doesn’t enjoy buying things in their pyjamas?

More and more businesses are moving online, and entrepreneurs are finding success with an online marketplace. This is where Shopify shines. 

In this article, we’ll explore all things Shopify. By the end of this blog, you’ll learn:

Let’s dive in:

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a digital platform that gives anyone the ability to start their own online business. This is an industry known as e-commerce. More than one million businesses use Shopify around the world, and Shopify businesses have made over $135 billion USD in sales to date.

In short, if you want to start an online business, learning about Shopify should be one of your top priorities. It’ll make your online transition much smoother.

To learn the ins and outs of Shopify, you can learn directly from them. Shopify put together a comprehensive guide here

Who is Shopify for?

Shopify can be used to sell pretty much anything under the sun, but it is especially beloved by small business owners. If you’re considering using Shopify, you probably have something to sell, or at least a really good idea of something you can sell. Small businesses, in particular, love Shopify. It basically allows people to develop their own digital storefront with very few barriers.

While many businesses use Shopify to sell services, for the interest of this blog, we're going to talk about the sale of physical products.

A physical product could be something you make by hand, something you have manufactured, or something you dropship to customers. These products can be one-off sales, or online subscriptions that provide customers with a recurring delivery of goods, such as groceries, freshly prepped meals, or flowers.  At the end of the day, these are items that have to get into the hands of customers, and that’s where delivery plays a major role.

Food Made Fresh: A Shopify (and Routific) success!

Chrissy Weir, owner and Head Chef at Food Made Fresh, is passionate about food and people. And for the past few years, her team has been delivering healthy, fully cooked meals to satisfied customers all throughout the San Diego area. Her team uses a combination of Shopify and Routific.

“My team and I have got 50% of our business model down — the cooking and prepping,” said Chrissy. “We rely on Routific to do the heavy lifting for the other 50% of our business — finding efficient and affordable ways to get our meals to our clients.”

How do I handle Shopify order fulfillment?

You’ve started an online store and generated some interest. Yay! Next step is getting your product or service into the hands of your customers. And you do that with local delivery. 

When it comes to your Shopify store, you have a few options. You can either have a third party handle your fulfillment and delivery (more on that later), or you can handle deliveries yourself, with your own fleet. There are pros and cons to both, so let’s dive into that. 

What is fulfillment and delivery?

Fulfillment is basically a fancy word for “completing an order”. Essentially, this is the process of making sure that the customer receives what they ordered, in a timely fashion. It involves packaging the products, shipping them and ensuring safe (and quick) delivery. So there are a lot of moving parts. Here are two ways you can go about fulfilling orders.

Your own delivery fleet

If you’re able to hire drivers (or beg friends and family to help you), having your own delivery fleet holds a ton of advantages for you as a business owner. The most important of those being that you have full control of all the costs associated with bringing your product to the customer:

  • Packaging
  • Presentation
  • Driver wages
  • Fuel

Making tweaks to any of these factors can shift the total cost of your transaction — which has a direct impact on your bottom line. Having your own fleet of drivers gives you control of the delivery process, and the ability to pull on those levers when you need to.

The drawback? Although you have complete control, it also means that you need to dedicate more time to get things just right. The fulfillment of each order is still on your plate, which gives you another thing to give time and space to. And as a business owner, we know you have a ton of things on the go already.

Third-party fulfillment

With third party fulfillment, you are basically contracting out the delivery part of your business to another company that specializes in this service. The best part about doing this is that you can take a large logistics project off your plate and dump it right into the hands of experts. This frees you up to focus on other tasks related to growing your business.

The downside is mainly cost. While you might be able to find some decently priced services, you have no control over those services or how they conduct business. If they give you a certain price, that’s what you pay. There’s not a lot of flexibility or control of your costs. 

The other downside is that you create a bit of a blindspot in your customer service. When you hand your delivery services off to another company, the last mile delivery is in the hands of someone else. And often, customers will associate their delivery experience directly with you. If a delivery is late or missing, or delivery ETAs aren't communicated clearly to the customer, that affects your company more than it affects the third party delivery. 

Routific + Shopify = Perfect Match

If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve learned quite a bit about the basics of starting your own small delivery business on Shopify. Once you’re up and running, it’s all about making tweaks to save you time and money – ultimately leading to larger profit margins for your business.

Routific and Shopify

This is where route planning software shines. As we pointed out earlier, one of the more variable costs you will incur when running your online business is delivery – getting your products into the hands of customers.

Routific and Shopify

There are tons of variables that affect the cost of delivery: how much product you have to deliver, how quickly you've promised delivery of your goods, gasoline costs, driver wages, and more. The more you can control these variables and optimize them, the more you can control your costs. 

Routific’s Route Optimization Algorithm

As of right now, route optimization algorithms are the best way to calculate the most efficient routes for a given set of delivery addresses. That’s because constraints such as delivery time windows, the capacity of delivery trucks, and even driver speeds, increase the amount of possible outcomes exponentially — to the point where it is humanly impossible to calculate them yourself. 

Routific’s route optimization algorithm can find the most optimal route, while considering all of your business and delivery constraints. And it can do that in a matter of seconds. What it really means is that it saves you hours every single day. It gives you more time to focus on the things that will grow your business, instead of spending time running your business. 

Routific’s Shopify Integration

Routific’s Shopify integration allows users to import orders from their Shopify Store directly into Routific. The Shopify Integration replaces the need to upload a spreadsheet of stops or manually enter in stops. (7)

This makes the process of fulfilling orders even quicker with Routific. You don’t have to mess around with messy spreadsheets, or reformat data to make sure it lines up nicely with another software. It's a seamless workflow that saves time and mitigates any frustration or human error you might have experienced. 

Once you've done this, you can enter your driver information, and then immediately optimize your route. The next step is to dispatch these routes to your drivers using Routific's free mobile app for drivers (6)

Your best bet for Shopify order management

Whether you are starting a brand new delivery business online, or transitioning your current delivery business online, the combination of Shopify and Routific will be a home run for you. You are able to:

  • Control and lower costs at each stage of fulfillment
  • Optimize delivery routes
  • Save time to help you refocus your energy on other parts of your business.

Having route optimization software is key to a successful local delivery business. And it's pretty simple to get started. Try Routific for yourself to see the difference ⬇️

If you're interested in trying Routific, we offer a risk-free 7 day trial. No credit card required. 

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Philip Manzano

Written by Philip Manzano

Philip Manzano is a Content Marketing Manager at Routific, a delivery management and route optimization solution that helps local food businesses scale up home delivery operations.