Experienced E-commerce Agency for Magento/ Adobe Commerce/ Shopify/ Shopware Development

How To Fulfill Orders On Shopify Dropshipping: A Comprehensive Guide

Dropshipping fulfillment enables ecommerce businesses to fulfill order demands without the financial burden and risk associated with inventory management. But how to fulfill orders on Shopify dropshipping, and how can you prevent some obstacles? This guide addresses precisely these questions.

What is Dropshipping Fulfillment? 

How To Fulfill Orders On Shopify Dropshipping

Dropshipping fulfillment entails the practice wherein the business refrains from physically stocking items. Instead, these items are retained within the inventory of a third-party supplier, who directly undertakes the order fulfillment process. Consequently, the seller is absolved from any involvement in the supply chain, rendering this method a convenient approach to order fulfillment.

Order fulfillment includes a multifaceted and time-consuming process key to the success or failure of a business. Customers are often convinced by the efficiency of this process, with delays potentially deterring them from completing their purchase. Beginning upon the placement of an order and topping with the shipment of the product, the order fulfillment procedure comprises several crucial steps:

  1. Assembling the products and packaging them according to their unique specifications.
  2. Labelling orders for shipment.
  3. Shipping the package to the customer via a designated mail carrier.

While these steps may appear straightforward, they entail numerous intricate details, such as updating order statuses to customers via email and the “Orders” page on the Shopify website.

Before embarking on the order fulfillment process, website owners must configure their chosen fulfillment method. The available fulfillment methods include:

– Fulfilling local delivery orders.

– Utilizing custom fulfillment services.

– Performing manual order fulfillment.

– Employing automated order fulfillment.

– Leveraging app-driven order fulfillment.

– Facilitating fulfillment for multiple orders and locations.

Furthermore, sellers must delineate their preferred fulfillment strategy, which may include:

– Self-fulfillment: Handling shipping independently without third-party involvement.

– Collaborating with a fulfillment partner: Delegating shipping and order tracking responsibilities to a designated Shopify partner.

– Adopting dropshipping: Directly sending orders to a dropshipper for subsequent handling.

Additionally, sellers must conduct a thorough analysis of fulfillment costs, packaging methodologies, and shipping strategies to determine the optimal fulfillment method for implementation.

Why is Dropshipping Order Fulfillment Beneficial?

Why is Dropshipping Order Fulfillment Beneficial?

Dropshipping fulfillment presents several advantages:

  1. Diverse Product Offerings: You can diversify your store’s product range without managing any aspect of the supply chain. Upon partnering with a fulfillment company, such as DSers, an AliExpress dropshipping partner, a single click enables you to showcase products in your store without incurring additional expenses.
  2. Low Capital Requirements: The absence of upfront product purchases in dropshipping fulfillment makes it financially viable to launch an ecommerce store or broaden your product selection without the need for substantial initial investments in inventory.
  3. Ease of Initiation: Physical product management is eliminated in dropshipping. Dropshipping suppliers manage their fulfillment centers, handling the packing and shipping of customers’ orders. Consequently, concerns regarding inventory management and stock level control are alleviated, requiring only a laptop to commence operations.
  4. Minimal Overheads: The low initial investment necessitated by dropshipping translates to minimal overhead expenses. Many dropshipping ventures originate as home-based business concepts before evolving into larger enterprises.
  5. Enhanced Scalability: Traditional retailers are burdened with manual order processing tasks, including receiving, fulfilling, packing, and dispatching orders. However, with dropshipping order fulfillment, suppliers assume responsibility for these tasks, enabling seamless scalability without overwhelming a small team.
  6. Expanded Product Range: As a dropshipping retailer, your product offerings are not restricted. Any new products stocked by your supplier’s fulfillment center can be promptly listed for sale in your store, without incurring additional costs.

How to Fulfill Orders on Shopify Dropshipping

Shopify offers 4 primary methods to fulfill orders: automated, manual, partial, and order management. Each approach offers unique benefits and can be tailored to suit merchants’ specific needs and functional workflows.

Automatically Fulfill Orders

Step 1: First, sign in to your Shopify account and select “Settings”.

Automatically Fulfill Orders

Step 2: Navigate to “Checkout” from the left-hand Shopify admin panel.

Step 2

Step 3: Scroll down to the “Order processing” section and select “Automatically fulfill the order’s line items.”

Step 3

Note: Check the box labeled “Notify customers of their shipment” to inform buyers of their order status. You can also choose to “Automatically fulfill all orders, even those with a high risk of fraud,” though this carries some risk.

Step 4: Save your changes by clicking “Save”

Manually Fulfill Orders on Shopify

Manual order fulfillment is commonly used by many shops. It helps keep track of stock and provides greater control over the fulfillment process.

First, uncheck “Automatically fulfill all of the order’s line items.”

To manually fulfill Shopify orders, follow these steps:

Step 1: Navigate to “Orders” on the left side of the admin panel.

Step 2: Select the “Unfulfilled” section and locate the unfulfilled order number.

Step 2

Step 3: Scroll down to find the “Request fulfillment” button.

Step 4: Choose a carrier from the drop-down menu and enter the Shopify tracking number in the “Optional tracking number” field.

Step 5: Select “Fulfill Items” to complete the process.

Step 5

Note: Confirm the details of your products and shipment, including models, quantities, and dimensions. Check the box “Send shipment details to your customer now” to notify customers via email.

Partially Fulfill an Order on Shopify

Step 1: Go to the Shopify admin panel and click “Orders” on the left side of the screen. Locate and select the order you wish to partially fulfill.

Step 2: Choose the order and click “Mark as Complete” to proceed.

Step 3: Decide how you want to ship your items.

Step 4: Click “Fulfill Items” when you’re done.

Fulfill Items

Step 5: The order status will now show “Partially Completed”, detailing what has been fulfilled and what remains outstanding.

Partially Completed

Note: If you purchased shipping labels through Shopify, print them after marking the order as completed. Click “Create shipping label” to buy one. Adjust item numbers on the order completion page, setting quantities to zero for items you cannot fulfill. Check the box next to “Send shipment details to the customer now” to update the customer, provided you have their email address.

Complete Shopify Dropship Orders

For Shopify sellers using dropshipping, the fulfillment process differs slightly. You do not need to complete orders directly or automatically through your shipping service. Instead, request your dropshipping partners (e.g., Printful) to handle it.

  • Automatic Payment Capture: When a customer successfully makes a payment, your dropshipping orders will automatically request delivery. The order status will show as “In progress.”
  • Manual Payment Capture: If you choose to capture payment manually, you must first “Capture the payment” and then manually complete the order.

Finally, click “Request fulfillment” to initiate the fulfillment process.

By applying these methods, you can facilitate your Shopify order fulfillment process, ensuring efficient operations and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Common dropshipping challenges

Common dropshipping challenges

Dropshipping businesses encounter a variety of challenges. Despite sharing similar goals, some businesses struggle with finding reliable suppliers, while others face issues with shipping. Regardless of the specific challenge, there’s always an area you can improve to transform your dropshipping business into a profitable venture.

Low Profit Margins

Low profit margins are a significant challenge for many dropshippers, especially in competitive niches. The ease of starting a dropshipping business allows competitors to sell items at low prices, focusing on revenue through sales volume rather than quality. Since the initial investment is minimal, these businesses can afford to operate on thin margins.

Supplier Challenges

Even good dropshipping suppliers also can make mistakes in fulfilling customer orders—mistakes for which you will need to take responsibility and apologize. A low-quality fulfillment partner can create issues with missing items, mishandled shipments, and poor packaging. Managing multiple fulfillment centers, as many dropshippers do, further complicates order fulfillment.

It is crucial to find reliable dropshippers to fulfill your orders. Vet your options and check reviews on supplier sites like DSers. Key criteria for choosing a good supplier include:

– Fair fees

– Low order minimums

– Expert knowledge

– Customer support

– Responsiveness

Finding a supplier that meets these criteria increases the likelihood of having positive dropshipping fulfillment experiences.

Poor Unboxing Experience

For online businesses, shipping and fulfillment mean the most direct touchpoint and connection with a customer. Since customers can’t physically interact with products before purchasing, the unboxing experience becomes a crucial opportunity to create a memorable impression and distinguish yourself from competitors. However, this is also a common challenge for many dropshippers.

Shipping Issues

Shipping times and delays are prevalent in dropshipping fulfillment. Depending on the destination country, shipping can take up to 60 days. 

One way to reduce shipping costs and complexities is to ship from your home country. Some dropshippers address this issue by purchasing products wholesale and hiring a fulfillment center in the destination country. This approach allows them to deliver orders within a few days instead of several months.

By solving these challenges and executing effective strategies, you can enhance your dropshipping business and improve overall customer satisfaction.

Processing Returns as a Dropshipper

Processing Returns as a Dropshipper

Returns become more complex when dealing with a dropshipping supplier. Each supplier has different return policies. Some may not allow returns, while others may charge high restocking fees. Additionally, you may be required to cover postage for returning defective items. The process varies, but ultimately, the customer looks to you for handling returns, and it’s crucial to ensure a smooth experience for them.

Aside from fulfillment services, the returns process for dropshippers typically follows these steps:

  1. The customer requests a return.
  2. You request a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number from the supplier.
  3. The customer sends the merchandise back to your supplier, noting the RMA number on the address.
  4. The supplier refunds your account for the wholesale price of the merchandise.
  5. You refund the customer for the full price of the merchandise.

There’s no ideal way to process returns as a dropshipper. Some ecommerce businesses may offer “returnless refunds,” providing a full refund without requiring the customer to return the merchandise.

It’s important to have a transparent return policy stated on your website to build trust with customers and encourage purchases. If you’re unsure how to create one, Shopify’s Return Policy Generator can help you quickly and easily generate a policy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fulfilling Orders in Shopify Dropshipping

1. How do I fulfill orders on Shopify as a dropshipper?

To fulfill orders on Shopify as a dropshipper, you first need to receive the order notification. Then, contact your supplier to place the order on behalf of your customer. Once the supplier processes the order, update the order status in your Shopify dashboard to “Fulfilled” and provide tracking information to the customer if available.

2. What happens if an item is out of stock with my supplier?

If an item is out of stock with your supplier, promptly notify the customer and offer alternatives such as a refund, a replacement product, or the option to wait for the item to be restocked. Transparent communication with the customer is essential to manage expectations and ensure satisfaction.

3. How long does it take to fulfill orders in dropshipping?

The time to fulfill orders in dropshipping can vary depending on factors such as supplier location, shipping method, and product availability. Typically, orders are fulfilled within a few days to a week. It’s crucial to communicate estimated delivery times to customers to manage expectations effectively.

4. Can I customize packaging for orders in dropshipping?

Yes, you can customize packaging for orders in dropshipping to enhance the unboxing experience and promote your brand. Many dropshipping suppliers offer white-label or custom packaging options for an additional fee. Alternatively, you can use third-party packaging services to add branding elements to your shipments.

5. How do I handle returns and refunds in dropshipping?

Handle returns and refunds according to your store’s return policy. If a customer requests a return or refund, communicate promptly with them to initiate the process. Depending on your supplier’s policies, you may need to coordinate returns directly with them. Ensure that refunds are processed promptly to maintain customer trust and satisfaction.


In conclusion, mastering order fulfillment in Shopify Dropshipping is important for the prosperity of your online store. By automating order fulfillment procedures, optimizing inventory management, and delivering exceptional customer service, you can ensure smooth operations and enhance customer satisfaction.

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A data-driven marketing leader with over 10 years of experience in the ecommerce industry. Summer leverages her deep understanding of customer behavior and market trends to develop strategic marketing campaigns that drive brand awareness, customer acquisition, and ultimately, sales growth for our company.
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