Changing the fulfillment location to a fulfillment service

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I attended the Shopify Unite fulfillment session this year and one of the questions referenced the ability to change the “location” of a fulfillment to a third party fulfillment service. The Shopify team said that functionality was in the works for late 2019/early 2020, has there been any update on when that might be becoming available?

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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
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Hello, @Craig_B

 

Elias here with Shopify Support. That is a great question.

 

This feature is available to all merchants now, simply upgrade your shipping to the shipping profiles and add your third-party fulfillment service. Third-party fulfillment can be a custom fulfilment service or fulfillment by Amazon

 

After that, you can enable multiple locations and begin assigning inventory to locations. Once that’s done, go back to the shipping profiles and set up your shipping rates for each location. If you have vastly different rates between products, you can consider using the combined rates at checkout

 

Is this the feature you were looking for?

Elias | Social Care @ Shopify 
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Hi @Elias,

 

Thanks for the reply. I'm not certain if we're talking about the same functionality. I'm looking for the feature where, after an order is placed, you can change an individual item (or items) in that order to be fulfilled from a different service. For instance, we have Widget A that we sell in our brick and mortar store, but we can also dropship from the distributor we purchase Widget A from. When it makes more sense for me to fulfill the item from my dropshipper, like if I have limited inventory in my store, I want to switch to fulfill through my distributor's custom fulfillment service that is installed in my Shopify store rather than fulfilling it directly from my store. Does that make sense?

 

Thanks,

Craig

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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
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Hey, @Craig_B.

 

Thank you for following up. Yes, we’re talking about the same functionality. However, this setup involves setting up several different aspects so I wanted to make sure you had all the information on hand. First you need to set up the locations and assign the inventory to them. After that, you can adjust the location when you fulfill the orders

 

The custom fulfillment that I mentioned previously is for setting up the email notifications that gets sent to your distributor when one of their products are processed in an order. This notification can be set up for each product. 

 

I hope this helps clarify the functionality you’re looking for. If you have any further questions regarding multiple location fulfillment, feel free to let me know.

Elias | Social Care @ Shopify 
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Hi @Elias,

 

I finally had the opportunity to set up a test store for this and I'm not seeing the functionality outlined above available. Can you let me know what I'm missing here?

 

I have one product: "Widget A"

 

I created two store locations that both have inventory of Widget A. Inventory is tracked by Shopify.

I have a custom fulfillment service from my distributor who provides the same Widget A.

 

Once an order comes in for "Widget A" I can't change to the custom fulfillment service to fulfill the item. Only my two store locations are available.

 

Please advise. Thanks!

 

Craig

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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
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Hey, @Craig_B.

 

Thank you for following up. The custom fulfillment is only for email notifications to the supplier when one of their products has been ordered and isn’t directly related to your fulfillment locations. However, if you add your supplier to your locations, they will become an option as a fulfillment location. If you’re adding them as a location, depending on your products, remember to set your priority of your locations for fulfilling orders or prevent a location from fulfilling online orders if necessary. 

 

Let me know if this is what you’re looking for!

Elias | Social Care @ Shopify 
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Hi @Elias,

 

Thanks for sticking with me on this.

 

Our distributor provides an actual fulfillment service. As mentioned in the original message, we stock a product "Widget A" in our physical store  that we buy from our distributor. When we receive an order from a customer local to our store, we fulfill "Widget A" out of our physical location. When we receive an order from outside our area, we want to route that order to our distributor's fulfillment service and have them dropship that same "Widget A" product for us.

 

When it makes more sense for me to fulfill the item from my dropshipper, like if I have limited inventory in my store, I want to switch to fulfill through my distributor's custom fulfillment service that is installed in my Shopify store rather than fulfilling it directly from my store.

It seems like a similar flow to how I would expect FBA to work, but looking at the Fulfillment By Amazon page, I see it says: 

 

If you use Fulfillment by Amazon for a product, then you can't also stock the product in the locations that you manage.

That's exactly the functionality we're trying to achieve and asked about at Unite. One product either fulfilled from our store location or our distributor's custom fulfillment service decided after order time. The team at the fulfillment session at Unite said this would be possible.

 

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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
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Hey, @Craig_B.

 

Thank you for following up again and I’m happy to carry on with our conversation. I understand the setup you’re looking for and I think there may have been a bit of misunderstanding between the Unite announcement for this function and the expectations, as third-party fulfillment, like Amazon’s FBA, isn't able to do this as well. 

 

Since you are actually fulfilling orders from both locations, your physical store and from your distributor, you can add your distributor as one of your locations. However, locations are meant for order management purposes on your end and does not notify your distributors of an order. This will need someone from their end to become a staff on your account so they are able to see which location you’ve chosen for a particular order. This is why I suggested setting up the custom fulfillment, so when one of their items is purchased by a customer - they are automatically notified. That said, this is also where problems, similar to Amazon’s FBA, start to occur as they would receive notifications for every order containing a particular product but isn't able to differentiate who is fulfilling it. I think this is where the misunderstanding is and I’ll be happy to put forth a feature request with our developers to improve our location functions. I believe if locations can notify someone via email, either a staff in another warehouse or your distributor, this will solve your problem.

 

You can see if your distributor can work out a process with you, perhaps by contacting them and confirming which orders they need to fulfill at the end of each week. If you're adding them to your locations, you can set your fulfillment priorities for online orders. This allows you to decide which orders you will be fulfilling yourself and confirm with your distributor on remaining orders afterwards. Though this doesn’t notify your distributor, this allows you to fulfill an order from multiple locations or change your fulfillment location based on the customer’s address or availability of your own inventory. 

 

I hope this clarifies the custom fulfillment and locations. If you have any other questions on this topic, don’t hesitate to let me know!

Elias | Social Care @ Shopify 
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