Shopify Fulfillment Overview: Is It The Right Choice for Your eCommerce Business?

Shopify has become one of the most popular ecommerce platforms, supporting over 4.4 million businesses with online stores. A fundamental part of any ecommerce operation is fulfillment – the process of actually getting orders from the warehouse to the customer’s door. This is where Shopify Fulfillment Network comes into play, the software platform’s very own order fulfillment service for online merchants.

So how does Shopify fulfillment work? And more importantly, is it the right option for your businesses? Depending on your supply chain, customer demand, and other data metrics – Shopify fulfillment may be the right option, or it may be worthwhile exploring other fulfillment alternatives, like Print Bind Ship.

In this guide, we’re going over everything to know about Shopify fulfillment and how it compares to other order fulfillment solutions.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a popular ecommerce platform that lets anyone easily create an online store and sell products online. Founded originally in Ottawa, Canada in 2006, Shopify has revolutionized online shopping and now powers over 4.4 million active online stores globally.

Shopify’s strongest appeal lies in how it offers a relatively straightforward way for entrepreneurs and small business owners to set up ecommerce websites, manage products and inventory, process orders and accept payments, handle shipping and fulfillment, and analyze sales data.

As a SaaS (software as a service), Shopify makes selling online simple without requiring complex coding or technical expertise. Shopify handles the backend technical aspects, while merchants can focus on their branding, storefront design, and enhancing their customer experience. It provides them robust data analytics into product performance, traffic patterns, and conversions. It also offers flexibility to sell across multiple channels – not just their Shopify website but also on marketplaces, through pop-up shops, on social media and so forth.

Numerous businesses in all types of industries use Shopify to power their online stores and brands. Take a look at some of the types of businesses Shopify supports.

Physical Products

Of course, you can sell all of your physical products through the Shopify platform, such as clothing, toys, jewelry, books, or anything else you are creating. You can even choose to sell some of your products on the platform and not others, depending on your needs. This is the most popular use of the platform, but it’s certainly not the only one.

Classes Or Lessons

In addition to standard physical products, you can even sell book lessons and online classes through the Shopify platform. They can manage the class offerings and notify you when lessons are sold. Tangible products will be promptly shipped and processed, while digital orders will be processed immediately and delivered via appropriate digital format (email, on the webpage, etc.)

Digital Products

Speaking of digital orders, you can also sell digital products on Shopify, like eBooks and other non-physical products. The app isn’t just for fulfilling physical orders.

Memberships & Subscription Boxes

Website memberships are sort of a digital product, but they’re also a product all their own. Still, they can be managed by the Shopify fulfillment platform. Another popular product that this app can help distribute and sell is the subscription box. These are becoming a hot item for several markets and audiences, and a fulfillment partner makes them easy to manage.

Rental Services

You can also sell rental services on this network. If you rent inflatable bounce houses and other party equipment, for example, you can make the transactions through Shopify for an easy sales platform.

Services & Consultations

Like rental services, you can also sell professional services and consultations on this network. For example, you can book Yoga classes or a professional nutrition consultation with clients, thanks to the Appointment Booking feature on the app.

Ticketed Experiences

Instead of tangible products, you can sell tickets or ticket-style events and experiences on your website. These could include tickets for workshops, events, and even travel. Let’s say your business is having a fundraiser dinner that’s ticket-only. You can sell the tickets through the Shopify platform for built-in administration and quick delivery.

How Does Shopify Fulfillment Work?

To understand how Shopify Fulfillment works, it’s helpful to first get an understanding of how ecommerce order fulfillment works in general.

At a basic level, order fulfillment is the complete process of receiving, processing, packing, and shipping orders to customers. It starts when a customer places an online order and ends when the order is delivered.

Much of the order fulfillment process takes place in a warehouse, where employees are tasked with steps like order processing, payment collection, inventory allocation, picking & packing, shipping, and returns management. Efficient order fulfillment is vital for ecommerce businesses to meet and exceed customer delivery expectations.

Shopify offers its own fulfillment services through Shopify Fulfillment Network, a linked network of third-party logistics (3PL) providers designed to help merchants easily scale their fulfillment process. Once a Shopify merchant enables Shopify Fulfillment Network, they can store their inventory across Shopify’s network of warehouses within the United States and Canada.

As orders come in, Shopify automatically routes them to the closest fulfillment location carrying the product ordered. This allows for 2-day shipping or better to a large portion of buyers. The warehouses then pick, pack and ship the orders on behalf of the merchants. Shopify Fulfillment Network also handles customer service inquiries related to deliveries. Merchants can check the progress of an order and tackle and questions or issues with a representative Shopify admin.

How To Set Up Fulfillment In Shopify

Setting up fulfillment on Shopify is relatively simple. For starters, you’ll need to download the Shopify Fulfillment Network app and sign up for Flexport, a supply chain logistics platform, through the app. From there, Flexport will direct you to where to send your inventory and will handle the distribution logistics from there. You should receive a quote for shipments and monthly storage fees upfront so that you know exactly what to expect.

How Much Is Shopify Fulfillment?

Shopify is a completely customized solution. Therefore, exact pricing information isn’t available until you apply through the network and receive a custom quote. Their pricing typically includes things like storage, picking, packing, shipping, and special products or projects, like inventory management and validation.

Benefits and Disadvantages Of Shopify Fulfillment Network

There are several different benefits and disadvantages to consider when you are thinking of using Shopify fulfillment.


The benefits of Shopify start with the fact that all the hard work is taken off of your hands. Shopify does everything from the close of the sale, including picking and packing orders, preparing shipments, and distributing orders across the U.S. Some of the biggest perks are listed here.

  • Inventory Tracking: Being able to track your inventory in real-time through the Shopify platform and not have to manage it in-house can save a lot of time and hassle.
  • Information Management: You’ll also be able to rely on the platform’s robust AI and machine learning tools to keep better track of your operations and your business in general.
  • Low Operating Costs: For small companies and startups that can’t afford to warehouse their inventory and handle distribution on their own, Shopify fulfillment offers a cost-effective solution that handles everything without a huge expense.


There aren’t many disadvantages to a solution like Shopify. However, it might not be the ideal choice for everyone. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering your options for fulfillment, including Shopify.

  • Control of 3PL Providers (or Lack Thereof): This platform doesn’t give you a lot of control over who’s handling what out of the box, since they take care of it all. You may not be able to have complete control of logistics, including shipping, which could impact your quality control.
  • Higher Costs: In some cases, Shopify fulfillment is one of the more expensive options for distribution available today. You will have to pay all of the required fees, along with your membership fee, to keep your service going. There may be a more affordable solutions on the market that are worth exploring.

Alternatives To Shopify Fulfillment

Shopify fulfillment isn’t the only order fulfillment solution out there. To ensure you’re getting the best price and the best service, you may want to explore other options.

One of the leading order fulfillment providers and 3PLs in North America is Print Bind Ship, a family-owned business with over 60 years of experience in the field and with the tools and resources to rival industry giants like Shopify and Amazon.

Print Bind Ship allows you to pick and choose fulfillment services as you need them. You can explore full-service fulfillment and logistics solutions, or choose à la carte options for a more personalized approach.

Taking a personalized approach one step further, Print Bind Ship isn’t only a leading order fulfillment provider, but also a partner when it comes to printing and creating custom products for your business. Whether you’re an author looking to print your own books, you sell customized merchandise, or you’re breaking into the print-on-demand market, Print Bind Ship offers solutions.

We help businesses create custom books, fitness products, tote bags, t-shirts, subscription kits, even custom packaging and more! Our solutions go beyond the standard order fulfillment – aside from inventory management, shipping, and customer returns we also offer countless ways to truly personalize your brand.

What’s Next: Fulfillment With Print Bind Ship

If you’re ready to take your fulfillment to the next level and stay in control of the decisions, contact the team at Print Bind Ship. As one of the leading fulfillment services for Shopify merchants, we work with ecommerce brands to create custom solutions for fulfillment that suit your needs.

Our team of experts can even help you compare the costs of our service with other popular brands like Shopify, to ensure that you’re getting the best deals and the best fulfillment solutions. Get in touch for a free consultation and estimate for your project!


What products can I fulfill with Shopify Fulfillment Network?

Shopify Fulfillment Network supports most products sold online including apparel, electronics, jewelry, beauty products, health supplements, and books. Products must be sellable at retail stores and comply with prohibition lists for dangerous goods. If your products require special handling like refrigeration, you may want to inquire with Shopify, or other leading providers like Print Bind Ship, about accomations.

How much does Shopify Fulfillment Network cost?

Pricing is generally based on a fee per order plus storage space and weight charges. Volume discounts may be available as your sales increase and there are no monthly fees or long-term contracts. To ensure you’re getting the best price, you may want to compare quotes from Shopify Fulfillment Network with Print Bind Ship.

How fast is shipping with Shopify Fulfillment Network?

Shopify uses top shipping carriers like UPS, FedEx and USPS. Transit days depend on buyer proximity to a warehouse. The network aims to achieve 2-day ground shipping to the majority of American and Canadian buyers from entry of a fulfillable order. Expedited and rush shipping options are also available.