Blog Post

A Guide to Fulfillment Options On Shopify

June 10, 2023

When it comes to e-commerce, efficient and reliable order fulfillment is as integral to customer satisfaction as the quality of the products being sold. As a Shopify seller, there are numerous options you can potentially utilize. From in-house operations to third-party logistics (3PL) providers, to Shopify’s own fulfillment network, each offers unique benefits and potential drawbacks. Here, we dissect these options to help you navigate which option suits your Shopify store best.

In-House Fulfillment


With this option, you’re essentially fulfilling orders yourself. This includes managing inventory, packaging, labeling, shipping, and handling any returns. This is where everyone usually starts and it may be where you wish to continue if your Shopify business is quite small. There are numerous benefits to this, with arguably the biggest being the fact that you have complete control over your business’ fulfillment. You can also save costs. However, as your business grows, so will your orders, and self-fulfillment can quickly become overwhelming. Not to mention, issues such as storage space can also crop up.

If you plan on sticking with self-fulfillment then it’s crucial to have systems such as inventory management in place. This is just one area where the Juiced app can help your selling journey. Our app automatically imports your sales, orders, and more into one central hub, meaning you can manage and list orders from one place. You can also list across various marketplaces at the same time as well as track your success with our detailed graphs. If this sounds great then sign up for free here. If you don’t plan on fulfilling orders yourself then below are some other options.

Third-Party Order Fulfillment


Many Shopify sellers find third-party logistics (3PL) services to be a fitting solution for their fulfillment needs. This route typically involves outsourcing warehousing, picking, packing, and shipping to an experienced partner. A wealth of 3PL providers exists, each with its unique service offerings, pricing structures, and value propositions. The most well-known of these is probably ShipBob, which has the advantage of being able to operate in 30+ fulfillment centers across 6 different countries.

The main advantage of using third-party logistic companies like ShipBob is that it allows you to save time. Delegating this part of the business allows you to streamline the process if you’re looking to offload some of the day-to-day operations. This delegation allows you to focus more on other aspects of your business, such as marketing and customer service.

In terms of costs, 3PL providers typically charge for storage and order fulfillment. The former is usually a monthly fee based on the amount of warehouse space your inventory occupies, while the latter involves per-item fees depending on its dimensions and weight. Some providers also charge for additional services like kitting or assembling multiple items into a single package. Each provider has its own fee structure, however, so it’s important to look into these costs when comparing different services.

Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN)


SFN is Shopify’s own integrated fulfillment solution. One of the standout features of SFN is its tailored inventory distribution. Unlike traditional third-party logistics (3PL) services, SFN utilizes machine learning to review your sales history, predict future sales, and accordingly suggest the optimal locations to stock your products. This can significantly reduce shipping times and lower costs.

There are also many other benefits to using a system within the Shopify ecosystem. SFN simplifies the headache often caused by returns, with an integrated returns system. It allows customers to return products easily and also efficiently re-adds returned items to your inventory. This is a major advantage, helping you keep track of your stock levels and minimize losses. Another advantage SFN has over the likes of ShipBob is its custom packaging offering. From specific packaging materials to personalized notes for your customers, SFN gives you the tools to maintain your brand identity throughout the fulfillment process.

While the benefits of SFN are clear, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. The service is tailored for Shopify merchants who are moving between 10 and 10,000 units per week. It’s also important to bear in mind that, while SFN keeps you within the Shopify ecosystem, it still means outsourcing your fulfillment operations, meaning you have less control. It can also often be slightly more costly than third-party solutions, although it’s arguably worth it due to the extremely quick shipping times and other benefits discussed previously.


Choosing your Shopify fulfillment method ultimately depends on your business’s unique needs and size. Self-fulfillment offers control but can be time-consuming and challenging to scale. 3PL providers and SFN can ease this scaling process, but you’ll have to relinquish some control and it can be costly.