Hi everyone - looking for some tips on how we can solve a fulfilment process challenge we're facing with our USA-based Shopify store.
We currently fulfill our orders using a mix of FBA and in-house. One of our SKUs is simultaneously located both at FBA warehouses and our own warehouse, and for each order, we choose whether to use FBA or in-house fulfillment depending on a variety of factors including (but not limited to) total order size, shipping destination, cost and line item quantities / combinations.
We do this to optimize our fulfillment costs, minimize the risk of damaged during handling and shipment, and, especially for international shipments, because some orders require additional paperwork (e.g. CE declaration of conformity for EU shipments) that FBA cannot complete on our behalf.
The way we currently see it, deciding which fulfillment service to use can only be determined at the product / SKU level, within each product variant's setting. In other words, a single SKU cannot simultaneously be sometimes be fulfilled by FBA while other times fulfilled by another fulfillment service (i.e. in-house) without manually changing the product's fulfillment setting each time.
As a result, we currently only see two options, both of which have serious drawbacks:
1) Configure the SKU to be fulfilled by FBA, or
2) Configure the SKU to be fulfilled in-house
The problem with (1) is that if we decide not to proceed with FBA for a particular order (e.g. international order), there is no way to manually convert it to an in-house shipment and purchase postage through Shopify. (Purchasing postage through Shopify has been great way for us to save on shipping costs). Our workaround has been to create dummy orders with $0 value, just so that we can purchase a shipping label. For obvious reasons, this has our accounting and data analysis folks upset!
The problem with (2) is that if we decide to use FBA for a particular order, we have to manually type in the SKUs and shipping address for the order. This is unequivocally inconvenient, extremely time consuming and prevents us from scaling. On multiple occasions we have, inevitably, made errors during this manual data entry process. An additional pain point is that we have to wait for FBA to process the shipment, before we can send the tracking number (again, a manual process) to the customer.
In an ideal world, we could have some preset conditions that trigger different fulfillment services (e.g. if [line item quantity] < 2, use FBA) and process everything automatically. More realistically, we can also accept a manual review of each order to determine whether to use FBA or in-house. (We had hoped Shopify devs would have considered implementing this functionality in the standard platform back-end).
Does anyone have experience dealing with a similar issue, or have any suggestions for a solution? If absolutely necessary, we can consider custom scripts and/or code - in which case we would appreciate any high-level pointers or advice on how to implement it.
Josh @ Waveform Lighting
Sounds like you have a solid business going. Here are a couple of suggestions that may help:
1. Consider using a 3rd parth fulfillment service with a Shopify integration that auto-selects the location. There are a number of fulfillment centers out there with multiple locations to help decrease shipping costs.
2. Utilize an order management tool such as Sku Vault that integrates with Shopify, FBA, and others. This also allows you to setup multiple fulfillment centers, be it your own, or FBA, or a 3rd party. Sku Vault (and others) also allow you to pick SKUs from different locations, which can be setup on the back-end and seamless for the customer and you operations.
Hope these suggestions help. Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions.