It’s no surprise for store owners like you nowadays to prefer doing your business with dropshipping. It allows you to avoid the risk of holding inventory.
In return, you need to order and purchase items from suppliers and have them shipped to your customers quickly when they order from you. You need to look for an app that allows you to do that in an automated way.
Despite having access to a lot of order fulfillment tutorials and guides online, some of you might get confused about what goes behind the scene.
In this article, you will learn more about the order fulfillment process better.
How to Fulfill Shopify Orders on AliExpress – An Overview
You can see in this diagram how orders are being fulfilled in dropshipping stores, which also applies when you use an app to fulfill your customers’ orders automatically.
It’s worth noting that while dropshipping apps fulfill orders the same way as shown in the diagram, they implement the process differently as every app has its user interface and controls.
Some apps may not require a human to intervene in the process, while others need you to review or click around.
But usually, the order fulfillment process goes like this:
- The customer orders from your Shopify store.
- The order details are picked up via the dropshipping app you’re using.
- From the app, the order is made with a supplier on AliExpress.
- You pay the supplier for the order on AliExpress.
- The supplier processes and ships the order to the customer.
- The supplier sends the tracking number to you via the app.
- The app will automatically update the orders on Shopify with tracking numbers and marked them as fulfilled.
- From your store, your customer can see updates regarding their order and get notified with the tracking number once it has been shipped.
What do you need to take notice of during fulfillment?
You would want to allow some time to review the order, or better yet, allow a time window for your customer to change his/her mind and adjust the order before it is fulfilled. This is to avoid any mistakes or delays that may happen when the order being fulfilled isn’t the right one.
Your credit/debit card should also have enough credit limit. It should be able to handle multiple small payments as well. Otherwise your bank might limit your card after you use it to pay for too many orders on AliExpress.
It’s worth noting that paying attention to Shopify fraud analysis is important, especially for big orders. It will tell you if an order is legit enough for you to proceed fulfillment with, preventing big-amounted chargeback on your part.
Tip: If an order is flagged down as high-risk, you might need to ask your customer to go through an ID verification before proceeding to fulfill it.
A dropshipping app automates the fulfillment process by passing the order details from one platform to the other. Therefore, it takes time to complete. The higher the order volume, the slower the process will be.
This is the reason why it’s essential to use an app that automates as much as it could the data synchronization process—regardless of the order volume you may get from your customers.
Although most features of dropshipping apps that come with free plan like Oberlo are automated features, there are some functions that you can only access with a paid plan (e.g. make multiple order payments in one go). A review of many popular dropshipping apps.
Frequently asked questions about automated fulfillment
Now you know what it’s like behind the scenes when fulfilling orders and what you can do to fulfill orders more efficiently.
It’s time for us to answer some questions you may have when using an automatic order fulfillment app.
Can I automatically choose a shipping method when I fulfill orders?
You can set a default shipping method in most dropshipping apps. This is to reduce the time spent on choosing a shipping method every time an order is made.
Take, for example, if you’re using Oberlo, you need to set which country the order will be shipped to and what method will be used to send it after choosing a product.
In case the app cannot apply any of the default shipping methods during the ordering process, you will be asked to specify a shipping method manually.
Can I include a message to the supplier before placing the order?
You can draft a message, have it sent to the supplier automatically with some dropshipping apps.
You can set it to let the supplier know that you are a dropshipper. This is so they won’t send any invoice or promotional materials with the order. In case the dropshipping app you’re using doesn’t have this function, you should let the supplier know straight from AliExpress.
While fulfilling an order, which phone number should I provide to the customer?
It usually depends on the country. There are places like Dubai, where a phone number is required when their post office is delivering packages. If you aren’t sure about it, make it a point to include your customer’s phone number during the fulfillment process.
On another note, there may be times when you can choose to override the phone number with your own or a dummy number. Unless you confirm that the order’s destination country doesn’t require any phone number, then it’s better to refrain from doing this.
How To Scale Up The Order Fulfillment Process
As more customers buy from your store, there will come a time where you won’t be able to manage all the orders at once – even if you’re using an automated dropshipping app.
There are two ways for you to fulfill those high-volume orders more efficiently:
Via CSV fulfillment. If you have a supplier or two that you always rely on, you can ask them if they can fulfill orders from your store using this method. If they say yes, here are the steps that you take:
- In your Shopify admin panel, go to Orders > All Orders.
- Choose what to export and then click on Export Orders.
- Send it to the supplier for processing. Ask them to add in the tracking numbers to the file once the orders are shipped.
- Use an app like Mass Fulfill to upload the tracking numbers to your Shopify store. This will also allow you to notify your customers regarding their orders.
Via a third-party app. Some apps like DSers have built-in functions to support the abovementioned method. It allows you to upload CSV files with product and order information.
However, this feature is semi-manual. Meaning, you still have to do something by hand to fulfill orders.
Based on the information that comes with the CSV files you’ve uploaded through the app, DSers will send the orders to the correct supplier.
Once the supplier fulfills the orders, the CSV file will then be filled with the tracking numbers. The file can be downloaded in the same place where you have uploaded it.
This feature is best for stores that deal with thousands of orders per week.
Fulfilling orders in a more personal way
Sooner or later, your store will grow to a stage where you need to have better personalized service.
Ship Products In The Same Order With One Package
Doing this will not only save you time and money from paying for different packages and tracking them separately. But you will also be helping the environment against plastic or paper waste that comes with the item packaging.
Customize The Packaging
While most dropshippers have their suppliers send out their customers’ orders with the standard packaging, they actually prefer to have their orders sent packaged with the store’s style.
One great thing about this is it allows you to establish your brand more effectively, further gaining the trust of your customers.
Also, you don’t have to deal with returns or refunds due to customers getting their orders with unsecured or unsatisfactory (e.g. tear and wear) packaging.
It’s somehow a given that customers who order from online stores couldn’t wait to have their packages delivered at their doorsteps.
So, any store that sells dropshipped items with orders fulfilled and shipped right away will always shine bright in the industry.
Simply put, fast shipping times are equal to excellent customer experience that will likely lead to a high satisfaction rate for your store.
A Penny For Your Thoughts
Using a dropshipping app isn’t enough to fulfill orders satisfying all the above conditions. You need to look beyond an app.
Such as, enlisting the help of companies that can offer shipping services. These include freight forwarders and 3PL fulfillment providers.
We will review such services in future post.