Fulfilment with Shopify: here's how it's done by Linda Blijenberg
What is fulfilment?
We already explained it briefly in our blog on dropshipping: here's the slightly longer explanation.
Fulfilment is the term used for the processing of orders. This includes all activities from the moment a product reaches the company warehouse, to the moment it is delivered to the customer. Among other things the reception of goods, storage, stock management, orderprocessing, packaging, shipping, and often the processing of returns as well.
There are many, many ways to design the fulfilment process. In eCommerce – we're mainly talking about the larger webshops here – it is becoming more and more customary to outsource the whole thing to professional third parties. This has a few major advantages.
Advantages of having a fulfilment partner
First and foremost: expertise and specialisation. Fulfilment companies focus entirely on the fast processing of orders and are constantly optimizing the logistics. What's more, they do this for a number of clients, hence on a scale that makes it worthwhile to invest in costly technological solutions. As a stand-alone webshop it is hard to compete with that.
Second: having a fulfilment partner streamlines your business considerably, of course. Outsourcing the reception and storage of goods, stock management, orderprocessing, packaging, shipping and returns leaves you with a lot of time to spend on other things. Like sales and marketing. At a price, obviously, but a price worth paying!
And finally: quality fulfilment businesses offer you a range of related services, aimed at making it easier for you to run your webshop. We already mentioned the processing of returns; additional possibilities are customer service, product photography, webdesign, and payment processing.
Would you like to know more about the pros of fulfilment, or check if outsourcing works for your webshop? In this article (in Dutch) Jeroen Dekker of Active Ants explains what fulfilment can do for you, and offers a calculation example that allows you to determine the real cost of fulfilment for your situation.
How do you choose a fulfilment partner?
In the end it's all about three things: software, software, and software. Well, of course there are some other things to consider (read some tips here, in Dutch), but this is by far the most important! If you don't want to waste a lot of time troubleshooting, you have to be sure the whole process is automised flawlessly.
Especially the connector between your webshop platform and your fulfilment partner's software. Customers should be able to see if a product is available in your webshop, or they will order something that can't be delivered and you will have a disappointed customer on the phone. Clear communication with shipping companies is also important. Customers want to know where their package is at all times, and are used to receiving a Track & Trace code for instance.
What's more, with accurate, real-time reports you can be sure to have all the information. Good fulfilment partners make an effort to keep you as well informed about everything they do for your webshop as they are themselves.
Fulfilment for Shopify with the Active Ants-connector
Most quality fulfilment businesses offer readymade connectors for the most popular webshop platforms in the Netherlands, such as Magento, Lightspeed and WooCommerce. Until recently Shopify wasn't on that list, as a relatively young player on the market. This has changed, though!
Last year Active Ants, one of the most innovative fulfilment parties in the Netherlands, has developed a connector for Shopify. "We noticed an increase in Shopify-users, so we thought this would be a smart move," explains Ruud Reijmerink of Active Ants. So far four of their clients (among them a client of Code) are using the connector, and Reijmerink expects that number to rise quickly.
Fulfilment across the border
At Code we are quite happy with this development! We've been connecting Shopify webshops to fulfilment businesses for some time now, which will become a lot easier for connections with Active Ants. This is all the more interesting for Dutch Shopify webshops wanting to expand across the border. Active Ants is a cross-border specialist: their warehouse in Nieuwegein functions as the European threshold for various international clients (Tabasco for instance), to reduce the time and cost of shipping on orders from this region.
Hence, Active Ants has a lot of experience with shipping goods from the Netherlands to other European countries. Orders from Germany are delivered the next day, for instance, which is promising for webshops looking to expand into the German market. A very interesting market for many Dutch webshops: with the Shopify-connector from Active Ants that market just got a lot more accessible!
Did we spark your curiosity? Call or email us if you want to hear what we can do for your webshop. Whether you plan to work (or already work) with Active Ants or another fulfilment partner, Code can connect you. We're looking forward to hearing your case!